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”.
Okumaya devam et “From Continous Delivery to Continous Deployment”
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.
Okumaya devam et “Velocity : Key metric to secure an effective Sprint Planning”
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.
Okumaya devam et “How did we benefit from Contract-First REST API Design Approach?”
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.
Okumaya devam et “How does the Burndown Chart help us to meet Sprint Goals?”
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.
Okumaya devam et “How to handle a failed Sprint and how to avoid it ?”
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.
Okumaya devam et “Why is Refinement key for effective Sprint Planning ?”
Every single day, like any other Scrum team in the world, we spend 15 minutes (max) in front of our Scrum board for the Daily Stand-up event. On behalf of the team, I’m confident to share that we really like and enjoy our Scrum board! Here is why;
- We designed it ourselves. More precisely, Projera, the company who is coaching Turkcell during the agile transformation process, proposed a few draft layouts to give us an insight. Following that, we, as a team, gave the team a funny name (Maraba Televole) then designed the logo and the board as well as the layout indicating the various stages of a typical Sprint (PBL, SBL, In Progress, Done, Live, Performance etc. )
Okumaya devam et “How do you feel about your Scrum Board?”
What should be the success criteria of a Scrum team? Is achieving the sprint goal sufficient or one should also take into account the total story points completed ? Perhaps it should be a mixture of those? Should we also keep on eye on the velocity? Apparently, this is somehow a blurry area of Sprint Framework, isn’t it?
As far as I understand, the Scrum guide didn’t specify this precisely. Here below I’m quoting the related section :
The Product Owner discusses the objective that the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint, would achieve the Sprint Goal. The entire Scrum Team collaborates on understanding the work of the Sprint.
Let me share my own point of view regarding the condition that defines the success or failure of the Sprint:
At the Sprint Planning event, the product owner should make sure that the Sprint goal is crystal clear for the development team. Ideally Sprint Goal should be a consolidation of interconnected items in an incremental manner that could allow the team to focus and collaborate effectively.
At the Sprint review meeting, the Scrum team and stakeholders try to validate if the Sprint goal has been achieved. In addition to that, we are also checking the percentage of the Story Points completed and the change in the original Sprint Scope. Among the 3 metrics ( Sprint Goal, percentage of completed Story Points and change on the scope) achieving the Sprint .Goal is the most important one. Typically if we agree upon the accomplishment of the Sprint Goal together with stakeholders, as the team we conclude that it was a successful Sprint even if we may fail to complete the targeted SPs. As a team we are actively focused on downsizing and consolidation of Backlog items so that the complete scope could be expressed as a single easy-to-understand Sprint Goal.