The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Scrum Master Certification program.
Scrum is popular, but that doesn't mean it should always be used. It has advantages.
- Scrum for rapidly changing requirements
- Iteration and Increment
The Waterfall method is the traditional project management approach. The Waterfall is a linear and consistent procedure. This means that in this approach, you are processing one phase after another in a linear fashion and do not have any overlap in the phases.
- You cannot do the design before you have done the planning.
- You can't get started before you've done the design.
- You can't test anything before the project is ready.
- And so on.
Scrum for rapidly changing requirements
In the real modern world, many products and organizations have to cope with rapidly changing requirements, customers, users, needs.
In Waterfall, where everything is consistent, teams need to have all the requirements at the beginning of the project, and everything is documented, every step is planned, discussed, and approved by multiple stakeholders.
Each change in the project changes the documentation, budgets, and deadlines. BVOP states that this can cause stress for many teams and participants.
When following the Waterfall methodology, it is usually challenging to offer any product to the client or organization before the end of the project.
After a certain amount of time has elapsed after the project's launch, it may not meet the needs of the market.
A possible problematic situation would be if project stakeholders no longer even need what they used to a long time ago.
Waterfall project management is, in fact, excellent and stable. Tasks must be completed one after the other, and detailed planning and design are required before work on the actual project begins.
The Waterfall is very suitable for businesses such as heavy industry and construction, where the direction and scope of the project remain relatively unchanged.
Waterfall, on the other hand, may not be suitable for projects where the product needs constant adaptation to changing requirements and circumstances.
For example, if a product to be developed is a mobile application for artists or a new innovative virtual reality, Waterfall may not be the right method of operation.
One important topic in all Agile practices and Scrum is the value theme, which BVOP strongly emphasizes and generalizes to the overall Business Value idea.
For many products, value is not just a timely completion of a project, adherence to basic rules, or fit into a specific budget.
For some products, business value can be a highly usable user interface. For other products, business value will be quick work; for others, it will be readable text.
Iteration and Increment
Iterations in Scrum
Scrum is organized in cycles.
It is "iterative". It means repetitive. In Scrum, work is organized at intervals called Sprints.
Inspection and adaptation also occur iteratively within each Sprint. Scrum events (Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective) also take place at each iteration (repetition).
Scrum is incremental
During the iteration (also known as Sprint, or the time interval in which the team works), the team works collaboratively to create a "Potentially Shippable Product Increment".
This "increment" is a working version of the product being developed that can be made available to end-users. These increments (better versions) must be fully completed. There should be no hidden, unknown work that still needs to be done.
Inspection is performed on the “incremental” product, and any adjustments made aim to create a better and more valuable version.
What is Increment?
The simplest explanation is that increment is the current version of the product you are developing. This current version contains all the previous work put into the product, plus the one in the current sprint.
If your project just started and you are in the first sprint, your increment is only the completed work for the current (first) period.
If you are already in the second sprint, then your increment is simply the outcome of the previous sprint, plus the tasks you completed during the current sprint.
The following issues related to chapter "Why use Scrum" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of May 27, 2023, 1:27 am
|0||Scrum is incremental||60 sec||SM, PO|
|1||Iterations in Scrum||60 sec||SM, PO|
|2||What is Increment?||60 sec||SM, PO|
|3||Scrum for rapidly changing requirements||60 sec||SM, PO|
|4||Iteration and Increment||60 sec||SM, PO|
Comments from the BVOP™ community on "Why use Scrum"
Scrum is good, but not always necessary. It has benefits. The Waterfall method is the traditional approach. It is a linear process with no overlap between phases. For example, you can't design before planning, start before designing, or test before the project is ready.
Many products and organizations face rapidly changing requirements and needs. Waterfall methodology requires all requirements to be known at the beginning of the project, with every step planned and approved by multiple stakeholders. Changes can cause stress and affect budgets and deadlines. Waterfall is stable and suitable for industries with unchanged direction and scope, but not for projects that require constant adaptation. Agile practices and Scrum emphasize the value theme, which BVOP generalizes to overall business value. Business value can be a highly usable user interface, quick work, or readable text for different products.
Scrum is a cyclical and iterative approach to work organization. The work is divided into intervals called Sprints, where the team collaborates to create a working version of the product being developed. This version is called a Potentially Shippable Product Increment and must be fully completed with no hidden work. Scrum events take place at each iteration, and inspection and adaptation occur iteratively within each Sprint. The goal is to create a better and more valuable version of the product through incremental improvements.
The increment is the current version of a product being developed. It includes all previous work and the current sprint's tasks. For a project in its first sprint, the increment only consists of completed work from that period. For a project in its second sprint, the increment is the previous sprint's outcome plus the current sprint's tasks.
- Previous article Lean and MVP
- Next article The Elements of Scrum
I would like to make a few small clarifications and summaries on the topic. Scrum is "iterative", ie. repetitive. Simply put, the work of the teams is organized in time intervals called Sprints. Inspection and adaptation also take place iteratively within each Sprint. That is, after the end of each sprint we check everything.
The three "pillars" of Scrum are transparency, inspection, and adaptability. But why do we need to follow them? Without them, the product goal will not be achieved. These ideas are the main difference between this framework and popular project management methodologies and systems.
The main unit of Scrum is the Scrum Team. The team consists of only one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. There are no sub-teams or hierarchies in the Scrum team. The team is a cohesive unit of specialists focused on one current goal - Product Goal.
Scrum teams are multifunctional. This means that team members have all the skills needed to create value in each Sprint. This means you don't have to wait for other people outside the team to do your job. You do everything yourself. This way you avoid addictions and delays.
The people in the team are self-governing. This means that they decide for themselves who does what, when they do it and how. They don't wait for someone else to give them orders. Teams are looking for more efficient ways to work. And then test these ideas in practice. However, to achieve such levels of cooperation between self-organizing cross-teams, we need real professionals.
Outsiders such as customers or senior management should not make decisions for the team.
Also, Scrum follows his ideas based on empiricism. Empiricism means that knowledge comes only from experience. Decision-making must be based only on what we already know. We do not make assumptions because we can make mistakes. We must avoid theories. We need data and evidence.
The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities. These activities are, for example, collaboration with stakeholders, validation, implementation, experimentation, research, and everything else necessary. Team members are structured and have the authority to organize and manage their work. Working in sprints at a steady pace improves the focus and perseverance of the Scrum Team. The entire Scrum Team is responsible for creating a useful, usable Increment in each Sprint. We cannot blame Scrum Master or Product Owner for the problems. Or just a specific developer. Everyone is responsible.
Scrum improves team flexibility and productivity. With this framework, we can detect problems in the work process and eliminate them. When we see shortcomings, the team can quickly return to the previous stage and react as quickly as possible.
The approach helps to remove ambiguities in the development process. To find out what needs to be improved, the Scrum team needs to use the help of Scrum's three pillars:
This Agile work model is suitable for organizing complex tasks in difficult projects. Also, clarity in distinguishing roles and planned events ensures that there are transparency and collective responsibility throughout the project cycle.
Scrum is not a good idea for projects with a fixed price, time, and precisely defined scope.
Scrum requires transparency. Sometimes managers are concerned about transparent processes where problems are exposed. Teams and managers often have problems with transparency.
Scrum is not intended for teams receiving instructions on when and what to do.
If the organization does not allow teams to determine how best they can do their job, then Scrum would be misapplied.
If team members cannot work together, there can be no self-organizing team.
Teams must be empowered to decide how to achieve their goal and be able to work closely together.
If there are people with experience in the field, presenting the idea of how the Scrum team strives for continuous improvement and improvement would be a big plus. Daily meetings to discuss issues or concerns that team members may have would also be a possible reason for implementing Scrum. This helps a lot in the work process and the team feels safe.
Every organization strives in one way or another for the work process to run quickly and smoothly, so that the end-user remains satisfied, or the quality of the final product is up to standard. Here we can mention that through Scrum this can be done.
Before an organization decides to introduce Scrum, it must first analyze how applicable the framework is to its products. In my opinion, the main reason for the introduction of Scrum is the type of product that is produced. If it is complex and does not involve a strict contractual relationship, is not mass production, or is subject to legal regulations, the use of Scrum may be introduced.
The main advantage of Scrum is that the product is delivered continuously, which allows the customer to begin to recoup the investment in a shorter time. The team can inspect what it has created throughout the process, and if any of its members find a potential problem, they can share it at the Daily Scrum meeting. In addition, the work of iterations allows the elimination of all problems that arose during the preliminary tests, as well as after there is feedback from real users. It also allows the elimination of functions that have proved unnecessary in the tests. Scrum allows you to change product requirements during the process.
Emphasis is placed on the use of experience (empirical method) and thus reduces the chance of errors due to lack of such or uncertain assumptions.
It is easier to plan tasks for shorter periods (sprints), and the retrospective at the end of each iteration gives clarity on how the project is moving.
The advantages for the people from the team are also many - the ability to focus on a few specific tasks for a certain period, the simplified process, the clear roles. These factors reduce stress and increase the quality of work performed. I think that the introduction of Scrum would be very useful for small start-ups that do not yet have a company culture and principles of operation.
The company that introduced Scrum will have greater clarity about the progress and status of its projects, more employee engagement, efficiency and focus, more free resources for innovation, better communication with its customers, and less time in the production of functions, which should not be used in the end.
The reason why the organization does not decide to introduce Scrum may be the nature of the product. If the company's product is mass-produced, has a strict contractual relationship, is subject to legal regulations, or cannot be delivered in stages, the Scrum framework is not appropriate.
For example, in the mass production of food with automatic machines, the actions of employees are specific and defined, the same. In this type of production, there is no creative part, the main processes are related to delivery, planning, and maintenance. Both these processes, as well as the production ones themselves, are clear and detailed. In this type of production, the focus would be on cost optimization.
Also, if the product cannot be delivered in stages and used without being in its entirety. For example, the production of clothing, fitness equipment, furniture, etc. For serial products, making changes during the production process is not cost-effective. And the consumer has purchased the product based on an exact specification or when it is already fully manufactured and put up for sale.
When to start producing the product, it must have passed the entire agreement with the customer, because during the production phase it is difficult not to make abrupt changes. For example, the product is a playground, to buy the material, paints, ropes, etc. for it, the manufacturer must know exactly what the customer wants in advance.
If we consider a construction company, Scrum is again not applicable, as the process and the product are regulated by local law. The company must comply with legal requirements and procedures.
To make a proper assessment of which method of work applies to a company, senior management must make or commission a study based on which to make a decision. As much as it purifies to have one method, if it does not fit the production processes for the reasons listed above, it can not bring benefits to the organization.
The reasons for introducing Scrum as a way of working are not the opposite of not introducing it, as good project management, process optimization, use of experience and quality work of employees are the aspirations of every good company. The nature of the product that is produced, in my opinion, is the decisive factor for such a choice.
The possible difficulties in implementing Scrum for the top management of an organization, in my opinion, can be listed below. The implementation of the three pillars of Scrum transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
If the company is not new, it has a history and established processes, and they need to be discontinued and replaced with a Scrum framework. For example - do not work on small teams of up to 10 people, with whom communication is through the Product owner. The establishment of periods (sprints), at the end of which there must be a ready functional part of the product for delivery, etc.
The way of communication and work with the small teams and the people in them, their distribution and the cooperation of the employees, so that they are not just a group of people in the same place.
Finding good professionals for the role of Scrum master.
Another difficulty would be the qualification of employees. To implement Scrum, they must be trained and learn to work and think according to the principles of flexible methodology. This would cost time, reduce efficiency. But over time, that investment will pay off.
To avoid chaos and confusion at the beginning of such an initiative, I think it should start in stages, with a test team working on a small project with the longest possible implementation time.