What is a Sprint Backlog? Is it a baseline, a record or a report? Baseline is a project document, which, defines aspects of the project and, once approved, is subject to change control. It is used to measure project’s actual performance as against planned targets. A reord maintains information on the progress of the project. A report provides snapshots of the status of different aspects of a project at a given point of time or for a given duration.
To answer this question, we need to understand what a Sprint Backlog is, its purpose and composition. The Scrum Team creates the Sprint Backlog and Sprint Burndown Chart using the User Stories and the Effort Estimated Task List during Sprint Planning Meeting. During Sprint Planning Meeting, the User Stories, which are approved, estimated, and committed during the Approve, Estimate, and Commit User Stories process, are taken up for discussion by the Scrum Team. Each Scrum Team member also uses Effort Estimated Task List to select the tasks they plan to work on in the Sprint, based on their skills and experience. The list of the tasks to be executed by the Scrum Team in the upcoming Sprint is called the Sprint Backlog.
It is common practice in Scrum that the Sprint Backlog is represented on a Scrumboard or task board, which provides a constantly visible depiction of the status of the User Stories in the backlog. Also included in the Sprint Backlog are any risks associated with the various tasks. Any mitigating activities to address the identified risks would also be included as tasks in the Sprint Backlog. Once the Sprint Backlog is finalized and committed to by the Scrum Team, new user stories should not be added – however, tasks that might have been missed or overlooked from the committed user stories may need to be added. If new requirements arise during a Sprint, they will be added to the overall Prioritized Product Backlog and included in a future Sprint.
Another tool associated with the Sprint Backlog is the Sprint Burndown Chart. It is a graph that depicts the amount of work remaining in the ongoing Sprint. The initial Sprint Burndown Chart is accompanied by a planned burndown. The Sprint Burndown Chart should be updated at the end of each day as work is completed. This chart shows the progress that has been made by the Scrum Team and also allows for the detection of estimates that may have been incorrect. If the Sprint Burndown Chart shows that the Scrum Team is not on track to finish the tasks in the Sprint on time, the Scrum Master should identify any obstacles or impediments to successful completion, and try to remove them. A related chart is a Sprint Burnup Chart. Unlike the Sprint Burndown Chart which shows the amount of work remaining, the Sprint Burnup Chart depicts the work completed as part of the Sprint.
So, it is difficult to categorize the Sprint Backlog as a baseline, record or a report. And as Scrum professes minimum documentation, Sprint Backlog fulfills purposes of more than one project document. For more information on Scrum framework, you can read the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK Guide). It can be downloaded for free in SCRUMstudy website: http://www.scrumstudy.com/download-free-buy-SBOK.asp
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Does accepting greater responsibility mean delivering greater value? Scrum believes that employees are self-motivated and seek to accept greater responsibility. So, they deliver much greater value when self-organized. The preferred leadership style in Scrum is “servant leadership”, which emphasizes achieving results by focusing on the needs of the Scrum Team.
Benefits of Self-Organization
Self-organization as an essential principle in Scrum leads to the following:
- Team buy-in and shared ownership
- Motivation, which leads to an enhanced performance level of the team
- Innovative and creative environment conducive to growth
Self-organization does not mean that team members are allowed to act in any manner that they want to. It just means that once the Product Vision is defined in Create Project Vision process, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Scrum Team get identified. And the Scrum Core Team itself works very closely with relevant Stakeholder(s) for refining requirements better as they go through the Develop Epic(s) and Create User Stories process. Team expertise is used to assess the inputs needed to execute the planned work of the project. This judgment and expertise are applied to all technical and management aspects of the project during the Create Deliverables process.
Although prioritization is primarily done by the Product Owner who represents the Voice of Customer, the self-organized Scrum Team is involved in task breakdown and estimation during the Create Tasks and Estimate Tasks processes. During these processes, each team member is responsible for determining what work he/she will be doing. Suring the execution of a Sprint, if team members need any help with completing their tasks, Scrum addresses this through the regular interaction mandatory with the Daily Standup Meetings. The Scrum Team itself interacts with other teams through the Scrum of Scrums Meetings and can look for additional guidance as required from the Scrum Guidance Body.
Finally, the Scrum Team and Scrum Master work closely to demonstrate the product increment created during the Sprint in the Demonstrate and Validate Sprint process where properly completed deliverables are accepted. Since the Deliverables are potentially shippable, (and the Prioritized Product Backlog is prioritized by User Stories in the order of value created by them), the Product Owner and the customer can clearly visualize and articulate the value being created after every Sprint; and Scrum Teams in turn have the satisfaction of seeing their hard work being accepted by the customer and other stakeholders.
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What is Scrum of Scrums and how does it work in the product development process? The first thing to know about Scrum of Scrums is that it acquires relevance only for large projects where multiple Scrum Teams are involved. In this process Scrum Team representatives convene for Scrum of Scrums Meetings in predetermined intervals or whenever required to collaborate and track their respective progress, impediments, and dependencies across teams.Normally, one member from each Scrum Team will represent his or her team in the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. In most cases, this is the Scrum Master, but at times someone else may represent the team. A single person may be nominated by the team to represent them in every Scrum of Scrums Meeting, or the representative may change over time, based on who can best fulfill the role depending on current issues and circumstances. Each person involved in the meeting should have the technical understanding to be able to identify instances in which teams could cause each other impediments or delays. Other important participants of Scrum of Scrums meeting include Chief Scrum Master and Chief Product Owner. The main purpose of the Scrum of Scrums Meeting is to communicate progress between multiple teams. The Chief Scrum Master (or any Scrum Master who would facilitate the Scrum of Scrums Meeting), can announce an agenda prior to the meeting. This allows individual teams to consider the agenda items in preparation for the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. Any impediments being faced by a team, which may also affect other teams, should be indicated so they can be conveyed at the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. In addition, if a team becomes aware of a large scale issue, change or risk that may affect other teams that should be communicated at the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. Outputs from the process Retrospect Sprint may have issues that could impact multiple Scrum Teams and could be used as an input for effective Scrum of Scrums Meeting. These meetings are preferably short (but usually not Time-boxed to allow for more sharing of information between teams) where a representative from each Scrum team meets to share status of the respective teams. The Scrum of Scrums Meeting is held at pre-determined intervals or when required by Scrum Teams, and these meetings facilitate the face-to-face sharing of information among different Scrum Teams through the Scrum of Scrums, issues, dependencies, and risks impacting multiple Scrum Teams can be closely monitored, which helps the various teams working on a large project better coordinate and integrate their work. It is the responsibility of the Chief Scrum Master (or another Scrum Master who facilitates the Scrum of Scrum Meetings) to ensure that all representatives have an environment conducive to openly and honestly sharing information, including feedback to other team representatives. For larger projects, involving a significant number of teams, multiple levels of these meetings may be convened. Each Scrum Team representative will provide updates from his/her team in turn. These updates are usually provided in the form of answers to four specific questions.
- What has my team been working on since the last meeting?
- What will my team do until the next meeting?
- What were other teams counting on our team to finish that remains undone?
- What is our team planning on doing that might affect other teams?
The answers to these four questions provide information that allows each team to clearly understand the work status of all other teams. It is recommended that a dedicated conference room be made available for the Scrum of Scrums Meeting, where all the Scrum Team Representatives are comfortable. In Convene Scrum of Scrums process, Scrum Guidance Body Expertise could relate to documented best practices about how to conduct Scrum of Scrum Meetings, and incorporate suggestions from such meetings in project work of individual Scrum Teams. There may also be a team of subject matter experts who may help the Chief Scrum Master facilitate the Scrum of Scrum Meeting. Some of the important outputs of the Scrum of Scrums meetings are: Coordination of work across multiple Scrum Teams. This is especially important when there are tasks involving inter-team dependencies. Incompatibilities and discrepancies between the work and deliverables of different teams are quickly exposed. This forum also gives teams the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give feedback to other teams. By using Scrum of Scrums Meeting, there is collaboration across the organization as opposed to people working in closed teams concerned primarily with their individual responsibilities. The Scrum of Scrums Meeting is a forum where Scrum Team members have the opportunity to transparently discuss issues, impacting their project. The need to deliver every Sprint on time forces the teams to actively confront such issues early instead of postponing seeking resolution. This timely discussion and resolution of issues in the Scrum of Scrums Meeting greatly improve coordination between different Scrum Teams and also reduces the need for redesign and rework. Risks related to dependencies and delivery time tables are mitigated as well.
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