Agile fundamentals

The Agile Manifesto was codified in Snowbird in 2001 by practitioners of Scrum, XP, and DSDM. Experts from these three areas came together to create the foundation of Agile comprised of the 14 principles as well as a declaration of value. The Agile Manifesto concerns itself with different values:

  1. Individuals and Interactions ABOVE Processes and Tools
  2. Functioning software (systems) ABOVE meticulous documentation
  3. Collaboration with clients ABOVE contractual negotiations
  4. Reaction to changes ABOVE the rigorous following of a plan

These values form the foundation because of which agile methodology works and is used more and more in projects with high levels of uncertainty.

Three parts make up the spring-foundation:

  • Sprint Planning
  • Spring Development
  • Sprint Review & Sprint Retrospective

A sprint is a “timebox” or a time window which determines the time for the completion of a given set of work. This can be a window of two weeks up to a month (although among advanced practitioners shorter time windows are becoming increasingly popular).

The sprint planning begins with the product owner determining the work which is to be completed from the product backlog. The product backlog is a list of tasks, sorted by their importance either for the continuous improvement or completion of a new product. The team examines the stories and picks which tasks it can complete during the course of a sprint. This process is expedited by a scrum master who does not contribute to the tasks directly but rather focuses on allowing the team to work efficiently through good processes and best practices. The final compendium of stories should create a coherent “product increment” which the team can present.

  • Input: Product backlog consisting of the stories prioritized by the product owner
  • Process: Verification and selection of stories for the sprint
  • Result: A sprint backlog of stories which the team obligates itself to complete by the end of the sprint.

Sprint retrospectives and sprint reviews are ceremonies which are used to obtain feedback and continuously seek avenues for a team to improve. The first step is the sprint review in which the product owner presents the product increment to the stakeholders as a sprint. This is an opportunity for the team to procure valuable feedback from the stakeholders, so it knows whether the product orientation is on course. The product owner is also able to acquire feedback regarding what the goals of the next sprint should be. The sprint retrospective also known as “retro” is the second ceremony which concludes a sprint. During a retro, the team goes into a room to rate how the sprint went to find avenues of improvement for the next sprint. The best sprint retros are conducted in the form of games to increase the input from the entire team which allows it to quickly and efficiently identify improvement opportunities.

  • Input: A presentable product increment ready for delivery
  • Process: Demonstrations and games to ease the process of getting feedback on the product and the team processes
  • Result: Feedback for the course of the product and measure to improve the next sprint

The iron triangle helps explain how the different management methods are synchronized with each other. The iron triangle includes:

  • Scope: The outstanding technical work
  • Time frame: Total time for the completion of the project
  • Budget: The total cost of the project in euro

All aspects of the iron triangle are constraints and costs for the organization. A longer timetable means a delayed product and extended capital commitment. A higher budget means more money or invested capital. A larger scope means a larger product that needs to be supported and maintained. All of these are types of costs an place restrictions on how the work can be completed.

There are three types of project management: agile, traditional, and lean

  • Agile: variable scope with a rigid budget and time frame
  • Traditional: variable budget for a rigid scope and time frame
  • Lean: variable time frame (or solving time) for a rigid scope and budget

The goals and requirements of each individual method are of vital importance for the understanding of the status of each method in the arsenal of the project manager:

  • Agile: Aims for speed (quickly deliver early versions) and requires trust to minimize the scope for a rapid delivery of value
  • Traditional: Aims for efficiency (best price) and requires efficiency to deliver the lowest costs in a given budget and time frame
  • Lean: Aims for innovation (problem solving) and requires technical knowledge to minimize development time

False comparisons between different project types exist in abundance. Frequent objections against the use of agile are the omission of critical elements such as design, tests or documentation. This is wrong. Every project must contain the following elements to be successful:

  • Charter
  • Plan
  • Documentation
  • Drafts/Prototyping
  • Testing

Remember that we are varying scope to create exactly what the client needs to not waste time or money. This is the strength of varying scope. It is fast and reduces waste by reducing the work to be completed to the minimum viable product (MVP) which fulfills the project goals (in the charter). To achieve this, every agile project requires:

  • A visions which is robust to change (the scope may change and the goal isn’t forgotten about)
  • Complete teams (client + cross-functional team)
  • Incremental delivery (learning by doing and the utilization of small sprints)
  • Continuous integration and testing (teams test the increment to ensure their functionality)

Scrum, SAFe or disciplined agile are frame works which help define roles and processes to scale the implementation of agile methodology. They offer a shared language, yet every method remains the same.

VOQUZ – Masterclass

VOQUZ offers training in the IT sector under the label VOQUZ – Masterclass. The training offer and concepts are based on years of project experience from our coaches working on site with our clients.

  • Scrum Master
  • Product Owner

5 days – large practical component – Scrum outside of the IT certification exam


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