From Continous Delivery to Continous Deployment

One of key definitions of the Scrum framework is “Definition of Done”(DoD).  In order to be able to decide when an activity from the Sprint Backlog is completed, the Definition of Done (DoD) is used.  This bring all the team members to the same level of understanding about the conditions when a task is completed. The definition of done for our team is as follows:

Any issue in the Sprint Backlog is considered to be “Done” if the analysis, development and validation stages have been completed successfully and the acceptance criteria has been met. The deployment is not a prerequisite for the issue to be considered as “Done”.

Reference

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Velocity : Key metric to secure an effective Sprint Planning

One of key metrics of a Scrum team is Velocity. Even though it’s not mentioned in the Scrum guide, it is still very useful for the Product Owner while planning the Scope of the next Sprint and defining a concrete Sprint Goal.

As the name implies Velocity (consider the team as a vehicle) is a  metric calculated by averaging the total amount of Story Points completed over the number of Sprints within the same period. In practice, the velocity of the teams gets stabilized after a certain number Sprints are left behind. As the number of Sprints increases, the velocity starts oscillating in a regular rhythm.

 

Source

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How to build, maintain and communicate the Product Roadmap?

One of the key responsibilities of a Product Owner is looking after the backlog and building and maintaining the Product Roadmap. The Roadmap is a great tool that provides a visibility regarding the Scrum team’s work and to materialize where the team is headed to. It’s a good practice to communicate the up-to-date Roadmap with the shareholders often in order to let them know which new features and bugfixes are planned over the coming weeks and months and to notify if there is a recent change on the planning.

We are running 2 weeks-long Sprints. At the end of the Sprint Review session, as the PO, I’m presenting the PBIs (Product Backlog Item) in priority order and ask openly to my line manager and other shareholders if we share the same understanding of priorities. From time to time chances are my management team and/or shareholders comment on the priority of PBIs and ask changes. On those instances, we altogether discuss about the motives of these new requests and get fully aligned. At the end of the review we as the team get either confirmation from the audiences regarding the priority order or have an updated list of priority. Here below you can see the ~3 months Product Roadmap of our team. (I’ve intentionally made it blurry for confidentially reasons)

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How did we benefit from Contract-First REST API Design Approach?

To recall, the fundamental purpose of this blog is to share openly the best practices we had as the Scrum team from a Product Owner Perspective. That’s why it makes sense to share a typical approach we follow while developing new features by cooperating with client development teams with a strict deadline or  time pressure. It’s Contract-First REST API Design. A recent example of this was a back-end development of a new Payment channel to sell recurring TV packages to end users through the TV Web portal.

To launch this commercially, the in-house Web portal development team was relying on us to progress further and actively developing the brand-new web pages. Besides, the launch date was fixed and committed to the top-management.

Even though the deadline was approaching, since the earlier Sprint has failed, as the PO, I had to prioritize the relatively small work that was left over at the Sprint Planning event. My perspective was as the whole team had focused to ship the Sprint goal of the previous Sprint and we are pretty close to bring it to Done state, I set a Sprint Goal that dictates to continue to work on the earlier goal and only to take small baby steps regarding the payment solution. My rationale was freezing the work we already had started and progressed a lot and focusing on something totally new wouldn’t be an effective way of utilizing team’s efforts.

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How does the Burndown Chart help us to meet Sprint Goals?

From my perspective, the beauty of Scrum framework is running Sprints for a short period of time (typically 2-3 weeks) and at the end of it being able to judge the team’s overall performance  objectively.  Setting a goal for a few weeks timeframe and going for it enables the team to get disciplined and stay focused. Historically, we had 6-9 months long projects with potential delays. This leads the teams easily jump into the comfort zone and adapt a relaxed and ‘take it easy’ type of attitude due to the long time for the project completion. Generally speaking, the human nature has a tendency to delay most of the work to be done towards the deadline. ( Remember your university finales :)) Therefore, setting digestible, S.M.A.R.T Sprint goals developing iteratively and incrementaly is an effective way to accomplish significant achievements within a certain timeframe.

Well, how does the team monitor if bringing the Sprint Goal to DONE status is something already secured or it is at risk ? Even though, it’s not mentioned in the Scrum guide at all, best practices propose “Burndown Chart” for that purpose.  As the Scrum Institute put it precisely:

The Scrum Burndown Chart is a visual measurement tool that shows the completed work per day against the projected rate of completion for the current project release. Its purpose is to enable that the project is on the track to deliver the expected solution within the desired schedule.

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How to handle a failed Sprint and how to avoid it ?

Let’s imagine a typical Sprint of 2 weeks duration. If the team is delivering software continuously since more than a year it means that the team had run around 26 Sprints past year. Do you think it is feasible that each and every Sprint has been finalized with success? Obviously, it is not surprising that a number of Sprints fail to accomplish the Sprint Goal. Well, even though it’s not the best scenario, a mature Scrum team is supposed to manage mentally and emotionally the consequences of a failed Sprint.

Every professional aims to be successful at personal level. Similarly, everybody enjoys  being part of a winning, successful team. Nevertheless, it is very likely that a Sprint could not achieve the targeted Sprint goal and fails due to several reasons such as bad planning, dependencies, challenging Sprint goals, changing scope etc.

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Why is Refinement key for effective Sprint Planning ?

As a best practice, I organize Refinement meetings every second week of our 2 weeks long Sprints. This is really key in order to run an effective Sprint Planning event.

I prefer to use Refinement but not Grooming as the latter has a recent negative meaning.

At the invitation I send to the team for Refinement event, I briefly mention about the PBI that we will talk about. These are mostly the items those have the highest priority  and have not been yet estimated.  Refinement sessions could potentially get postponed if the team is working intensely to accomplish the Sprint Goal and short in time. That’s why it’s a good practise to schedule it to the very beginning of the second week in order not to jeopardize achieving the Sprint Goal.

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İlk e-kitabım çıktı : Türkiye’nin Sayısal Televizyon yolculuğu

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