Part 2 Planning Projects
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Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, Agile Software
Development with Scrum (Prentice Hall, 2001).
PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN ACTION
Managing Software Development with Agile Methods and Scrum
The Scrum process was described for use in agile
software development by Ken Schwaber and Mike
Beedle. Exhibit 8.21 illustrates the Scrum process.
In practice, many agile methods and variations are
utilized, but they all share a basis in iterative
development, extensive verbal communication, team
interaction, and the reduction of resource-intensive
intermediate products. Agile software development
methods attempt to minimize risk via short time boxes
called iterations or Sprints. Typically, the time boxes
are from one to a maximum of four weeks and usually
include numerous subtasks. Each Sprint is frequently
like a software development project in and of itself and
includes planning, requirements analysis, design,
E X H I B I T 8. 2 1
SCRUM APPROACH TO NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
5–20 Day Cycle with
Source: Adapted from Ken Schwaber and MikeBeedle, Agile Software Development with SCRUM (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 2001).
Chapter 8 Resourcing Projects
coding, testing, documentation, and validation of
deliverables. Some iterations may generate new
products or capabilities, but most are integrated into
larger groups to be released as new products.
Scalability is one of the benefits of the approach,
and another is the opportunity to reevaluate priorities
in an incremental fashion. This technique, therefore,
can be used effectively for software maintenance
and enhancements, as well as new product
Scrum is facilitated by a scrum master who
organizes the project like any good project manager.
This person has the primary task of removing
impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the
Sprint goal and project objectives. The scrum master is
not necessarily the leader of the team in the traditional
formal sense (as the teams are self-organizing), but
acts as a productivity buffer between the team and any
destabilizing influences. This encourages the
emergence of informal leadership and team
cohesiveness. Scrum includes the following elements,
which define the process:
A dynamic backlog of prioritized work to be
The use of short iterations or Sprints
A brief daily meeting or Scrum session during
which progress is explained, upcoming work is
described, and impediments are identified and if
possible immediately resolved
A brief planning session during which the prioritized
backlog of items for the Sprint is identified and further defined by the team
A brief retrospective during which all team
members reflect about the past Sprint and any
design or other influences on future Sprints or
This approach keeps everyone on the team engaged
and focused. It works very well when everyone is
co-located to facilitate verbal communications, but has
been shown to work well in virtual teams or
geographically dispersed teams as well. The emphasis
on verbal communications has proven to be
particularly useful for international teams where
written communications alone may not be clearly
understood. The use of video conferencing and virtual
development environments is also beneficial in these
Agile software development teams include all
resources necessary to accomplish the tasks and finish
the software product. This includes designers,
architects, analysts, testers, technical writers,
managers, and customers (the people who define the
The primary metric for progress in this environment
is working software based on the scope as identified in
the Sprints. Schedules and other resources are based
on accomplishing the Sprints and removing
impediments. With their preference for verbal
communications, agile methods produce little written
documentation relative to other methods. That is not to
say that the team produces no documentation, as it is
important to have requirements, design, and other
aspects of the software product documented to
facilitate maintenance and support and in some cases
to meet industry regulatory compliance requirements.
This reduced emphasis on documentation has resulted
in criticism of agile methods as undisciplined or, as
some have called it, “cowboy coding.” As a rule, this
does not seem to be the case in practice because, if
properly implemented, the requirements are
documented in the prioritized backlog; the design is
documented in the Sprints and Scrum sessions; and
the testing, user, and technical documents complete
the documentation set. It is important to note that the
use of a scribe during Scrum sessions, planning, or
retrospective sessions is vital to capture what is
transpiring, since the sessions tend to be short and
intense by nature.
Many companies have now embraced the agile
methods to reduce development time, foster
innovation, and reduce development risk. One
example is a Seattle-based company that has utilized
Scrum to shorten development cycle time and
improve quality for software deliveries to its clients. It
uses Sprints to group similar requirements and
provide a two-week window of work for its
developers. Daily Scrum sessions help it stay focused
and deal immediately with impediments. This works
ideally, in that it keeps task scope to a minimum for
the developers, and everyone on the team is aware of
what is transpiring throughout the development
process. This has shortened development time and
led to more rapid release of products and
enhancements to the clients, thus reducing
development costs and improving margins.
Part 2 Planning Projects
Another example is an Ohio company that utilizes
agile methods and Scrum for software development for
clients in the highly regulated pharmaceutical, bio-tech,
and medical device industries. A recent software system
developed to be used in manufacturing data acquisition
and control for products requiring complete traceability,
including raw materials and processes, was designed
and developed in five months to beta delivery. The
software will ultimately track and control all of the
company’s production when fully implemented. The
system was put into a pilot manufacturing line. It was
working within thirty minutes of software installation
and processed product through the pilot production
facility the same day without a glitch. The system was
delivered essentially bug-free. This was unheard of
previously using traditional development methods and
would have taken a year or more to get to beta delivery,
Source: Warren A. Opfer, CCP, PMP®.
with many more issues. The company accounts for this
success due to the use of the agile process, Scrum, and
thorough quality testing. The requirements in this
regulated environment were developed in a traditional
manner; however, once the requirements were
approved by the client management, the Scrum
approach was used, which represented a departure from
the traditional waterfall approach. Each module of the
system was developed separately using the Scrum
approach by focusing on developing a few design
elements at a time rather than trying to focus on the
entire system design at once. In this way, the
development team could focus and accomplish a few
things at a time and leave the big picture design and
architecture to the scrum master and development
management. Use of this approach exceeded all
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