„Working software over comprehensive documentation“

One of the many new practices for organizations going through agile transformation is the move from requirement documents to user stories. I’m quoting from Mike Cohn *:

„User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability, usually a user or customer of the system. They typically follow a simple template:

As a < type of user >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >.“

In the classical approach, there is a requirement document that has been agreed by development and business groups after multiple time-consuming iterations. Even if both parties agree on a document after significant time and start developing the new feature, chances are part of the original scope gets obsolete or changes and things need to be reiterated and perhaps portion of the development efforts have been wasted. This approach is obviously not suitable particularly for time-critical projects.  On the other hand, user stories are mutually understandable both for customers and developers and increase the communications between team members and stakeholders. User stories also allow the development team do the practical planning. As Roman Pinchler nicely puts it **:

„User stories are not about documenting requirements; they want to enable you to move fast and develop software as quickly as possible;not to impose any overhead.“

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We apply a tailor-made adaptation of XP practices

Scrum framework doesn’t mention about how the software is developed i.e. which development techniques have been used. It lets the team to decide which techniques and practices will be used.  I think it’s a good idea to share the practices we benefit as a Scrum team thanks to the leadership of the Scrum Master. (A tailor-made adaptation of XP practices)

Pair Programming: All production code is written by two people at one screen/keyboard/mouse. This helps us to ship software with superior quality, less bugs, less iteration and as a result greater efficiency.
Test Driven Development: TDD is a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: requirements are turned into very specific test cases, then the software is improved to pass the new tests. Chances are the test coverage percentage of our software stack decreases due to other priorities. In any case, we focus to keep it above a certain threshold.
Unit testing: It's a level of software testing where individual units/ components of a software are tested. The purpose is to validate that each unit of the software performs as designed. Unit testing is key for the team to level less buggy software.
Continuous Integration: New code is integrated with the current system after no more than a few hours. When integrating, the system is built from scratch and all tests must pass or changes are discarded. This eliminates manual work and saves time and efforts.
Refactoring: The design of the system is evolved through transformations of the existing design that keep all the tests running. In the lack of refactoring, the quality of software decreases and the probability of major bugs increases.

 

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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