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Practical Application for Software Engineering: Scrum

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Software development and engineering is an excellent project to manage using agile and scrum methodologies. This is what an application of Scrum looks like in a practical setting.

Scrum in Software Engineering

In the Scrum Models in Systems Engineering: Process & Examples lesson, you learned that the best way to implement Agile development is with a framework like Scrum. This framework can be used to organize required tasks into a backlog. The backlog helps you get a big picture look at everything that needs to be done. It also helps you prioritize tasks and estimate a timeframe for completing each task.

When you know the required timeframe to complete each task in the backlog, you can then split the tasks into several sprints. Each sprint includes a set of tasks from the backlog. The number of tasks in a given sprint depends on the required timeframe to complete the tasks. In most cases, each sprint lasts two weeks.

Progress is constantly evaluated through daily stand-up meetings between the Scrum Master and the development team. Since the backlog is a living document, it may need to be adjusted based on information communicated in these meetings.

Example

Let's look at an example of a really simple backlog split into three separate two-week sprints.

Priority Backlog Task Number of Days to Complete Sprint Number
1 As a user, I need to be able to create a user account 7 1
2 As a user, I need to be able to edit my user account profile 7 1
3 As a user, I need to be able to place items in my cart 5 2
4 As a user, I need to be able to view items in my cart 5 2
5 I need to be able to remove items from my cart 4 2
6 I need to be able to ask questions about items in my cart 7 3
7 I need to be able to pay for items in my cart 7 3

Application

Imagine that you are an IT director. You have been charged with using Scrum methodology to work through the development of a new software project.

Backlog and Sprints

First, you need to create a prioritized backlog of all the tasks that need to be completed. The number of days it will take to complete each task should be also noted. Next, you need to sort the tasks into three sprints. Each sprint should last two weeks and include a set of two to four tasks.

Portions of the following table have been completed for you. Fill in the rest of the the table with the following backlog tasks:

  • As a user, I want to be able to view my monthly bill.
  • As a user, I want to be able to create a user account.
  • As a user, I want to be able to chat online with the billing department.
  • As a user, I want to be able to add payment information to my account profile.
  • As a user, I want to be able to pay my bill using saved payment information.
  • As a user, I want to be able to see a description of each itemized charge on the monthly bill.
  • As a user, I want to be able to make payment arrangements.
  • As a user, I want to be able to edit my user account profile.
  • As a user, I want to be able to edit my account password.
  • As a user, I want to be able to print my bill.

Then, sort the tasks into four separate two-week sprints.

Priority Backlog Task Number of Days to Complete Sprint Number
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

As you are filling out the table, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does each sprint contain two to four tasks?
  • Does each sprint last just two weeks?
  • Do any of these tasks build upon each other? If so, are the foundational tasks given a higher priority?

Scrum Meetings

Regularly-scheduled, hour-long meetings are often a substantial waste of time. Daily stand-up meetings that last 15 minutes or less will help you evaluate team progress and determine whether or not anyone needs help.

Write three questions that you can ask team members during the daily meeting.

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