The Agile methodology is easy to understand, but difficult to master. Take it from a Scrum Master. Agile Scrum, in particular, requires a change in mindset. Too often, Project Managers must define a schedule upfront and harass people to meet unrealistic dates. What makes the Agile Scrum approach attractive is its ability to promote transparency and accelerate output. If you're willing to let it, Agile Scrum can transform your organization.
But, let's face it: change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit and tend to resist change by default. Introducing a new organizational process, such as Scrum, to an established development team could easily be perceived as risky. You might even be met with downright hostility.
Fortunately, there is a middle ground. Oakwood Scrum Masters weigh in on three Agile techniques you can leverage as soon as today – without causing major disruption within your organization.
Terminology From The Scrum Master
It is important to understand some basic concepts. Oftentimes, the words “Agile” and “Scrum” are used interchangeably, and this is simply incorrect. Scrum is an implementation of the Agile framework. Scrum originally was designed for software development projects, but it works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are truly endless.
Be a Better Scrum Master Coach
Once you have a solid understanding of what it means to be agile and what it means to implement Scrum, it's time to put your knowledge to use. Agile coaches do this by learning and embodying the Agile Principles. When faced with a question or problem, successful Agile coaches look to the Agile Principles for answers.
For example, let's say your iterations are on track but your defect list is growing, and your customer is becoming frustrated. Agile Principle #1 states that “our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” In this example, the “early and continuous delivery” part has been achieved, but the “valuable software” part has not. A buggy product does nothing to satisfy the customer. Thus, the Agile methodology has not been implemented successfully.
So, how can you be a better coach? It's simple, really. Read the Agile Principles. Print them out and recite them daily. Refer to your principles when making decisions.
Pick a Tool and Live in It
The popularity of Agile has spawned an abundance of Agile project management tools designed to manage the performance of Agile teams. Which one is right for you? Well, that depends. Here's a look at a few of your options:
Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
VSTS allows software development teams to store and collaborate on code with unlimited private repositories. When you sign up for VSTS, you also get access to a broad set of free developer tools, Pluralsight training, and credits in your Azure account. The downside to VSTS is the repository management is not as intuitive as competing products. And, this particular tool might be overkill if you're just getting started with Agile.
Jira gives you access to more than a dozen out-of-the-box reports, giving you visibility across teams and projects. It was designed with Agile in mind and it allows you to create custom workflows of any size that match the exact way your teams build, test and release software. But again, if you are just getting started with Agile, it might be more than you need.
Which brings us to…
It may seem rudimentary, but this very well may be your lowest friction and highest impact option. A Kanban Board is a workflow visualization tool that enables you to optimize the flow of your work. The tools listed above (VSTS and Jira) have this feature in common. When boiled down to their most simple feature, VSTS and Jira are both sophisticated, online versions of Kanban Boards.
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