Agile Software Development with Scrum

Instructor: Stephen Meyer

Stephen has worked as a Project Manager and is PMP certified, as well as certified by the Scrum Alliance.

When it comes to project methodology, Agile and Scrum are often used interchangeably. However, Agile involves a set of values while Scrum is an approach to implement those values. Learn about Agile software development implemented with Scrum methodology.

Agile Values

Anthony's software company is making a shift in how they approach their projects. They are going to transition to Agile and use Scrum as their project methodology. His team has heard of Agile and Scrum, but is not quite sure the difference between the two. They assume if they are using Agile, it is the same as using Scrum. In order for his team to be the most effective, Anthony must help them understand Agile values and how Scrum enables these values to be accomplished.

The purpose of Agile is to be more responsive to change within a project. It's an alternative to traditional approaches to projects. It is defined by the Agile Manifesto, written in 2001 by a group called the Agile Alliance, which includes:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Everything in the manifesto is valuable, but the items on the left, such as individuals and interactions or working software, are considered more valuable than the items on the right, such as processes and tools or comprehensive documentation. This is a response to the limitations within projects based on scope, time, and/or cost. Anthony's team has often felt these limitations, and he is excited for an approach that explicitly acknowledges them.

In understanding Agile, Anthony's team must learn the difference between Agile and Scrum. Agile is a way of thinking about how to approach projects, while Scrum is a way to implement the approach. Scrum is a form of Agile, but Agile does not necessarily mean using Scrum. There are various approaches to Agile beyond Scrum. These include XP (or Extreme Programming), which focuses on how project work is developed and Kanban, which focuses on completing project work in a continuous flow. Unlike the others, Scrum looks to complete project work in repeated cycles. This is what Anthony and his team will use.

Scrum Roles

In order to implement Scrum, Anthony first focuses on defining the various roles. It is important for his team to understand the different people involved with a Scrum project, and how their roles reinforce the principles of Agile.

The first role that Anthony defines for his team is the one that they will fulfill, that of the development team. This role includes the individuals who develop and test the product, which is a part of all project methodologies. However, there are aspects that are unique to Scrum. In most methodologies, there are developers and testers on the team, each with specific functions. However, in Agile, the team is meant to be cross-functional, where individuals work together to complete the work and are involved throughout development and testing. This accomplishes the emphasis of individuals and interactions in Agile.

There are additional roles in Scrum beyond the development team. One of these is the Product Owner. The Product Owner is responsible for establishing the project requirements. These are written as desired functionality for specific users and are known as user stories. The Product Owner works with other stakeholders to write user stories and then works with the development team to make sure they are understood. Through each of these interactions, the Product Owner role achieves customer collaboration, another value of Agile.

The final role is the Scrum Master, whose goal is to make sure the product is built in the right way. The Scrum Master seeks to optimize the Scrum process, and helps the Scrum team to complete their work by removing hurdles. This is often done by managing communication between the Product Owner and development team. The Scrum Master is another role that accomplishes the Agile value of individuals and interactions.

Scrum Process

Once Anthony has defined how the roles of Scrum accomplish the purposes of Agile, he moves on to how the Scrum process does the same. Agile values are implemented by two specific aspects of the Scrum process. The first involves timing, which is a defining aspect of Scrum. The second includes the various meetings that mark the process.

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