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Adding Spikes to Gain Knowledge

Planning an Agile project can be rather simple when all is known. When the market is predictable, requirements are clear, the technology is well understood, and the team is experienced in using all of the required tools, there isn’t much research required to complete a project.  But for those times when all of the stars are not aligned and (God forbid) there is something the team does not fully understand, the team will need to dedicate some time to investigation or experimentation in order to complete the project. 

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Agility with OCP

Decreasing time to market is often why many teams adopt Agile.  But realizing this value requires discipline in development processes, as well as in development techniques.  In order to release small, incremental pieces of functionality often, your software must be easily extensible.  Following the Open/Closed Principle (OCP) is one of the best ways to ensure that you can easily and quickly extend your software with new functionality while maximizing the value of Agile.

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Agile Is More Than Process

There is more to Agile than estimating stories, collaborating with customers, and showing working software.  Agile is also about technical excellence.  And this is where many Agile teams drop the ball.  All too often, teams focus too much on process and not enough on technical practices.  If the effort, complexity, and risk is too great for your team to extend and maintain their software, they will struggle to deliver functionality to their customers at the end of each iteration.  They will struggle to deliver working software as promised.

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A Dozen Ways to Fail at Scrum

Scrum provides a process framework to help realize the benefits of Agile principles.  The value of Scrum has been demonstrated many times, on numerous projects, throughout various industries.  It is a fairly simple and straightforward set of practices and guidelines that will (usually) result in greater adaptability to change, improved productivity, high quality products, and happier customers.

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Scrum Values:  Predictability

As Scrum becomes ever-so-popular among software development teams, some people may actually wonder why.  Certainly increased productivity and improved quality are on the list, but predictability is a huge benefit that is often over-looked.  Whether your product development is driven by schedule, scope, or budget, being able to accurately and consistently predict when a set of features will be done is often critical to a successful product launch. 

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Scrum Values:  Visibility

One value of Scrum that is often overlooked is visibility, which actually enables critical Scrum practices.  Visibility is realized by communicating status to all stakeholders, which includes the status of individual and team commitments, impediments, progress, along with other metrics and indicators.  Scrum is based on empirical process methods, which demands process transparency to enable inspection and adaption at all stages of development.

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What Makes a Good Scrum Master?

The role of a Scrum Master requires skills in a variety of disciplines.  But for starters, good soft skills are a must.  A good Scrum Master must be able to communicate effectively and be able to relate well to all team members.  He/She must be able to influence others and constantly sell the value Scrum to team members and other stakeholders.  Everyone has an opinion on how Agile principles should be applied and a Scrum Master must drive his/her team along the path carved out by the organization’s processes and methods.

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The Absence of Commitment

Back in 2011, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the established authorities on Scrum standards, replaced the term commitment with forecast within the official Scrum Guide.  While this may seem like a minor, irrelevant change, the implications are indeed significant.

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Scrum Methods:  Planning for Value

Steve Jobs was obsessed with providing the best user experience to his customers.  Because, above all else, that is what they valued most.  He was the grand master at delivering value to his customers.  Not necessarily in terms of dollars, but in terms of what they wanted.  And while technology helped get him there, his focus was always on exceeding the expectations of the user.

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Scrum Methods:  User Story Authorship

Scrum is not just a change in methodology; it is a change in culture. It is not simply a practice of iterative development; it embraces the principles defined in the Agile Manifesto and places the customer at the center of product development.  For organizations that adhere to Agile practices, their highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.1

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