Value poker

The product owner is responsible for making sure the product backlog is ordered in a way that maximises value. The goal is to enable the team to deliver as much value as possible, as early as possible. However, this can be easier said than done. How do we determine what is more valuable than something else? Often, we will be comparing apples and pears. What is more important: simplifying the checkout process or adding the possibility to subscribe to newsletters? This week, in three short blog…Continue Reading “Determining value using value poker”

Agile metrics

I have come to a realisation lately that I’ve left a useful tool lying at the bottom of my agile toolbox without using it as much as I should. This tool is metrics. Sure, I’ve been measuring velocity and have been using it to forecast delivery. From time to time, I’ve also dug deep into Excel exports from Jira to support some of my observations (“On average, we need two sprints to complete every story”). What I haven’t been doing though is picking a good, basic…Continue Reading “Choosing the right metrics for continuous improvement”

Why is it that the rules of Scrum limit team size to between 3 and 9 people? Surely, the more people on our team the better? More people get through more work? That is certainly true is some cases. For instance, if we need to phone 5,000 people to sell them loft insulation, more people manning the phones will get us there quicker. Unfortunately, software development doesn’t work like that. One often quoted study by Lawrence Putnam and Ware Myers looked at nearly 500 medium-sized…Continue Reading “Why small Scrum teams rock”

Some users stories aren't useful stories

Simply writing a sentence on the format “As a x, I want to y, so that z” won’t make it a user story. There is a lot more to stories than this. In this article, I will take a look at what some common pitfalls are. 1. Stories that don’t deliver value on their own The goal of any agile process is to deliver working, demonstrable software frequently. The way we break down our work is incredibly important for our chances of achieving this. One…Continue Reading “7 reasons some user stories aren’t useful stories”

Let's keep it simple

Arguably, the most universally applicable of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto is the one about keeping things simple: Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential. The first time I saw it, I had to read that statement twice. “Maximising the amount of work not done”? Surely, we’re in the business of trying to get as much done as quickly as possible? But no, thinking more about it, it does make a lot of sense. Our goal is…Continue Reading “We can only be agile if we keep things simple”

I need your help!

I am very excited to announce that I am writing a book! The working title is “Troubleshooting Scrum” and my goal with this book is to help software development teams to identify and resolve the issues that prevent them from getting the most out of Scrum. Help me by taking my short Scrum survey Are you using or have been using Scrum? In that case, I would love to hear about your experiences! If you have got five minutes to spare, it would be awesome it…Continue Reading “I’m writing a book and I need your help!”

Strange things people do and still say they do Scrum

Scrum recently celebrated its 21st birthday. There are now over 400,000 Certified Scrum Masters, and that’s even before counting the ones holding the competing Professional Scrum Master certification! Sadly, with so many people using Scrum, there is also a lot of madness going on in the name of Scrum. The State of Scrum report from the Scrum Alliance contains some rather sobering reading. For example, only 15% of Scrum teams are self-organising. Even worse, only 6% are cross-functional. Can it be that there are a…Continue Reading “Strange things people do and still say they do Scrum”

Quick fixes

Improving how we do things is at the heart of any agile methodology. We’re always on the look-out for opportunities to improve. Through this continuous improvement, we’re on a constant journey towards finding the ways to delivering as much value we can, as effectively as possible. However, if we’re not looking deeply enough to find the root cause of the problems we’re seeing, the risk is that we end up attempting quick fixes. We try to address the symptoms rather than the cause of our problems, or…Continue Reading “9 quick fixes that won’t solve your Scrum problems”

Project plan fail

I’d like to let you in on a secret: I don’t believe in projects! I believe it’s a bad idea to use a project to deliver or maintain software. We talk a lot about products in agile. For example, we call our backlog a product backlog, not a project backlog. We talk about our teams as product teams or feature teams (or possibly component teams), rather than project teams. Still, projects still seem to be the norm for how we deliver our products and any sizeable…Continue Reading “It’s probably not really a project you’re working on, so stop treating it like one”

A task board full of waste

There are a lot of ways to waste time and effort when developing software, and it’s not even things like catching up on Facebook or playing table football I’m talking about. It is completely possible to work incredibly hard without generating of value at all. Sometimes, it’s even our own good intentions that trip up us! Sources of waste 1. Building the wrong thing The worst possible waste is probably when we efficiently and using all our expertise, deliver something that turns out to be…Continue Reading “5 ways to waste development effort (and how to fix it)”