“SCRUM – An Agile Process” – Information Systems Essay
Scrum is an agile process designed to help manage and control software development work. It applies to both regularly develops products and those which require constant adaptation to business needs, technology availability and reliability. However, Scrum is suited best to new product development rather than extended development realizing that speed and flexibility of methodologies like Sashimi where the importance of high quality and low cost project phases have been reduced to four: requirements, design, prototype, and acceptance. Other companies took one step further, reducing the phases to one and calling it Scrum.
The term Scrum comes from rugby where it is the method of beginning play in which the forwards of each team crouch side by side with locked arms; play starts when the ball thrown in between them and the two sides compete for possession. The key to this comparison is that everyone on the team is working towards the same goal.
Scrum begins by calling a meeting to tell then team that they have been selected to do an important project. It is best to describe the project in a fair amount of detail, include how long it’s estimated to take, how much it is estimated to cost, how it is expected to perform. At this point the program manager will generally tell the team that their job is to do it in half the time, with half the cost, and twice the performance benefits. At this point the manager may explain how the rest of the project is up to them and that he or she is just a resource if needed.
The first thing that usually happens within the group is the initial leader will become primarily a reporter. The leadership role will bounce around within the team based on the task at hand. Soon QA developers will be learning how requirements are done and will be actively contributing, and requirements people will be seeing things from a QA point of view. As work is done in each of the phases, all the team learns and contributes, no work is done alone, the team is behind everything. From the initial meeting, the finished product is being developed. Someone can be writing code, working on functional specifications, and designing all at once. It is not unusual if the team cleans the slate numerous times, to make room for new ways while disregarding old practices as they prove useless. The team should become autonomous, and will tend to transcend the initial goals, striving for excellence. The people on the team will become committed to accomplish the goal and some members may experience emotional pain when the project is completed.
Scrum works because of the basic premise is that if you are committed to the team and the project, and if your boss really trusts you, then you can spend time being productive instead of justifying your work. This reduces the need for meetings, reporting and authorization. There is control, but it is subtle and mostly indirect. It is exercised by selecting the right people, creating an open work environment, encouraging feedback, establishing an evaluation and reward program based on group performance, managing the tendency to go off in different directions early on, and tolerating mistakes. Every person on the team starts with an understanding of the problem, associates it with a range of solutions experienced and studied, then using skill, intelligence, and experience, will narrow the range to one or a few options.