To Scrum or not to Scrum
Scrum seems to be a hot topic for software developers. Some say they can’t live without it; others argue that it is over-hyped and actually wastes time. For those that don’t know, Scrum is a process for software development that includes product owners, Scrum masters, daily meetings, sprint planning, retrospectives, stories, cards, etc. The idea of Scrum is fairly new. I don’t recall it being discussed at all in my college classes six or seven years ago (though it’s possible I just missed it).
I have worked on several projects that have used Scrum at varying levels. I have also worked on teams where our process was almost the exact opposite of Scrum. Here are my thoughts from my experience (in no particular order):
- It’s important to recognize that the end goal is to ship software, not to fully implement all the aspects of Scrum. I have seen where people get more concerned about whether or not we’ve hit all the meetings of Scrum than that we’re on course to deliver our software on time.
- Software developers (among others) enjoy having a list of things to work on and being able to check them off when the task is completed.
- It is never bad to make sure the requirements for a project are clearly defined.
- Scrum does bring with it meetings that can go on for hours. This can seem like a bad thing, but I feel that these meetings have made me and the members of my team more effective. I have never measured the amount of time spent having the sprint-planning meetings versus not, but I would imagine having the meetings actually makes the developer more productive.
- Most developers like routine and I have seen Scrum help morale as developers get into the groove of the Scrum process. They know what to expect and they feel confident that they are using their time effectively.
- It is never bad to prioritize the importance of the features that have been requested.
- It’s important to be flexible. When we were first trying to implement Scrum, management seemed concerned that we were going to throw our deadlines out the window. I successfully convinced them that we would be flexible. If it was obvious that we would not be able to hit our deadlines while doing Scrum, then we would scrap Scrum. Never happened, by the way.
Overall, I have had a good experience with Scrum. I particularly enjoy the aspect of constant improvement. Whatever your process, make sure it’s better today than it was yesterday. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I better go check on our burn down chart.