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What is Agile Scrum – HelpingTesters

September 8, 2017
Agile Scrum, what is scr what is agile methodology

In our previous blogs, we learned what is Agile Methodology in details. In this today’s article, we will talk the most accepted process for Agile development i.e. Agile Scrum. Agile Scrum is the framework for managing team and gets maximum productivity in the project. 

We would be covering below topics in detail:

  • What is scrum
  • Roles in scrum
  • Responsibilities of scrum role
    • Product owner
    • Scrum master
    • Scrum Team
    • Management
  • Scrum Ceremonies / Events
    • Sprint Planning
    • Daily Standup
    • Sprint Review
    • Sprint Retrospective

⇒ What is agile scrum

  • Scrum is basically a subset of Agile Umbrella that uses Agile Manifesto and Principles
  • It is an agile process that helps managing work
  • A team based approach to develop application or product in an environment where requirements are changing rapidly.
  • A process to improve and maximize productivity.

⇒ Roles in agile scrum

  • Unlike traditional waterfall, Agile Scrum has different roles to be played. Here, you don’t find titles such as Junior / Senior Developer, Team Lead, QA Engineer, QA Lead, etc.
  • The key roles in scrum are as follows:
    • Product Owner (Voice of Customer)
    • Agile Scrum Master
    • Agile Scrum Team (includes Developers, Testers, Technical Writer, etc.)
  • One more role is there in the scrum which isn’t considered as a key role but still exists there and that is:
    • Executives/Managers
  • In all the Agile Scrum activities/ceremonies (which will be discussed in coming points), core participants are (i) Product Owner, (ii) Scrum Master and (iii) Scrum Team. While (iv) Executives/Managers have hardly a role to play here. They can participate in these activities/ceremonies, but can’t act like an active participant as others do. Management can share their views and suggest but can’t expect others to act as they say.

⇒ Responsibilities of Scrum Roles

Let us navigate through the responsibilities of or tasks performed by every role in Scrum

⇒ Product Owner

  • Product Owner is also known as a voice of the customer. He is at the center in the gile scrum. He knows the business well and acts a client representative.
  • To develop the product roadmap and product vision
  • To groom product backlog continuously by
    • Creating and updating user stories in backlog
    • Correctly prioritizing them to achieve business goal ASAP
    • Working closely with business and scrum team so that they are on the same page in understanding product backlog
  • To define release goals, release plan and work on release management activities
  • May manage one or more products
  • May work with one or more scrum teams working on same or different products

⇒ Scrum Master

  • Scrum master does not lead the team but instead acts as a Servant Leader for the team
  • Coaches scrum team on scrum values and practices
  • Ensures that all required practices are adopted and followed correctly
  • Acts as a facilitator for scrum ceremonies viz., Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up Meetings, Retrospective Meeting and Sprint Review Meeting by ensuring:
    • Set up of the meetings
    • Presence of all required members
    • Logs viz. Issue log, Retrospective log, Review log, etc.
  • Removes impediments of the scrum team
  • Protects scrum team from disturbances, internal as well as external, that do allow them to deliver what is committed
  • Encourages scrum team to volunteer for the work

⇒ Scrum Team

  • Ideal size of agile scrum team should be 7 plus or minus 2
  • Self-organized team and accountable for delivering what is committed. Team Members are collocated.
  • The team is usually cross-functional i.e. collective of Developers, Testers, Technical Writer, etc.
  • Participate in Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up Meeting, End of Sprint Review Meeting, and Sprint Retrospective meeting.
  • Review backlog, scrub user stories, estimate user stories and create tasks respective to user stories
  • Identifies and communicates risks, dependencies as well as impediments
  • Update story tasks status regularly

⇒ Management

  • To understand and support Agile process and agile scrum team
  • To provide business context

⇒ Scrum Ceremonies / Events

  • There are mainly four scrum ceremonies viz. Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, End-of-Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. Sometimes, a question arises, is it really necessary to follow and participate in all the scrum ceremonies? Can’t any event/ceremony be skipped?
  • Since all four ceremonies have their own importance and schedule, it is highly recommended that all should be scheduled and executed as per Scrum. And scrum master, scrum team, product owner must participate in the ceremonies as applicable.
  • Let us go through all of the ceremonies

⇒ Sprint Planning

  • Sprint is nothing but a fixed time duration in which shippable product is developed incrementally on the top of the existing product.
  • Sprint Planning is a time-boxed and collaborative team meeting occurring at the beginning of every sprint
  • Ideal duration should not take more than 8 hours (i.e. 1 day) for 4 weeks Sprint and 4 hours (i.e. ½ day) for 2 weeks Sprint
  • Objectives of the sprint are:
    • To define Sprint’s goal
    • To define stories to be worked on in the sprint
    • To determine velocity of the sprint
    • To have team commitment and vote of confidence from the team towards commitment
  • What Product Owner does:
    • Acts as a customer representative
    • Explains the sprint goals
    • Sets priority of user stories within a sprint
  • What Agile Scrum Master does:
    • Schedules and facilitates Sprint Planning meeting
    • Ensures that everybody is fully involved in the meeting
    • Helps in estimating user story and tasks
  • What Agile Scrum Team does:
    • Understanding and scrubbing the user stories
    • Estimating the user stories
    • Breaking down the user story into tasks
    • Give commitment for timely completion of the user stories
    • Identify dependencies, impediments, etc.
  • Others
    • May attend as active listeners
  • One should also be familiar with two backlogs i.e.
    • Product Backlog: Product backlog contains a list of all the user stories, epics (i.e. group of related user stories) for a product. These user stories are prioritized as per the business needs.
    • Sprint Backlog: Sprint backlog is a prioritized subset of product backlog

⇒ Daily Standup

  • Daily stand-up is a quick and focused meeting held daily during the sprint post completion of sprint planning
  • Maximum time for the meeting is 15 minutes.
  • Can be held at any time of the day decided by the team, but the team should consistently follow the schedule. Mostly conducted either at the beginning or at the end of the day.
  • What Scrum Team does:
    • Communicate daily progress and status
  • Scrum Master
    • Schedules and facilitates Daily Stand-up meeting
    • Ensures that everybody is present in the meeting
    • Updates sprint backlog if needed for any completed task
    • Updates risk / impediments log
  • Product Owner
    • May attend sometimes and listen to what is being discussed
  • Others
    • May attend but as active listeners only
    • What is discussed in daily stand up?
  • Each scrum team member conveys following three information only:
    • What did I complete yesterday?
    • What will I do today?
    • What are the impediments in completing my today’s task?
  • Sprint Burndown Chart
    • The sprint burndown chart shows the daily progress of the sprint in terms of how many story points are remaining. Let us have a look.
    • Y – axis represents the story points in a sprint
    • X – axis represents days in a sprint
    • Blue line shows ideal work remaining as on date
    • Red line shows actual work remaining as on date

⇒ User Story

One should also know what is a user story and how to estimate it:

  • A user story is nothing but requirements written in simple, easy to understand format
  • A user story should satisfy INVEST acronym i.e.
    • Independent: A user story should be independent of the other user stories in a sprint.
    • Negotiable: There should be a scope for negotiation in terms of scope, complexity, estimates, etc.
    • Valuable: It should provide a business value to customer when delivered
    • Estimatable: Agile Scrum team should be able to estimate in order to complete it.
    • Small: The user story should be sizable enough to get completed within the same sprint only. No roll-over.
    • Testable: Agile Scrum team should be able to test the functionality developed as part of the user story
  • User stories are never estimated in terms of man days or man hours, instead, they are assigned story points that denote complexity of a user story. The exercise of planning user stories for a sprint is known as Planning Poker.
  • There are few user story estimation techniques available such as
    • Fibonacci series: 0, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5, …
    • T-shirt Sizing: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
    • Power of 2: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, …..
    • It is very important that estimation of the consensus (agile scrum team) is not varying extremely. For ex. One scrum team member quoting 5 story points and another quoting 20 for the same.
    • In such cases, reasons should be discussed behind these highly varying estimates and then user story should be re-estimated to get closure estimates among the team members. It should continue until the team agrees to a common estimate.

⇒ Sprint Review

  • As you know that at the end of each sprint, agile scrum team delivers a working product having the user stories committed in the beginning of the sprint. How to determine it? The answer is, via Sprint Review meeting, also known as End-of-Sprint Review Meeting.
  • As the name suggests, this is a review meeting held at the end of every sprint.
  • The purpose of this review meeting is to understand the progress made during the sprint against what was committed.
  • This meeting is an informal meeting i.e. it does not need a hi-fi presentation.
  • The ideal time frame is 2 hours for the review meeting.
  • What Scrum Team does?
    • Demonstrates the completed user stories or deliverables
    • Does not demonstrate the incomplete ones.
    • Ideally, the demonstration is done by each developer who is primarily responsible for that user story.
  • What Scrum Master does?
    • Schedules and facilitates Sprint Review meeting
    • Ensures that everybody is present in the meeting
    • Summarizes team’s achievements using following:
      • How many user stories did the team complete in the sprint?
      • What is the velocity achieved by the team for the sprint?
      • What challenges did team face during the sprint while working on the user stories?
  • Whats Product Owner and/or Customer does?
    • Reviews what is done vs. what was expected
    • Reviews what is done vs. what was committed
    • Provides feedback on the functionalities completed

⇒ Sprint Retrospective

  • However good you perform, there remains a space for improvement. Sprint retrospective meeting is done to reflect on what happened during the sprint.
  • The meeting is generally conducted after End-of-Sprint Review Meeting.
  • Entire agile scrum team with scrum master identify answers to the following three questions:
    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • Are there improvements needed?
  • Moreover, they would also find out
    • What team should start doing?
    • What team should stop doing?
    • What team should continue doing?
  • What Scrum Team does?
    • Discusses the things mentioned above.
  • What Scrum Master does?
    • Schedules and facilitates Sprint Review meeting
    • Puts items discussed at a visible location
    • Updates sprint retrospective report or log
    • Concludes the sprint by thanking scrum team for participating in the sprint

About the author

Bansi Adhia author

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