The race to be the best, deliver high-quality software and to be the first to market has many organizations turning to different methodologies in order to speed up the development process. One methodology organizations have been flocking to in particular is Scrum.
“I always will recommend Scrum if an organization is new to Agile and they are coming from a traditional waterfall or linear sequential phase gated type of process,” said Lee Cunningham, director of enterprise Agile enablement at VersionOne. “My recommendation is to always start with an iterative approach, and Scrum is obviously the most popular and most well known of those and the reason for that is because it gets the team members oriented to getting things done whereas the world they may be coming from might have projects that go on and on forever.”
The reason that Scrum is such a popular method for streamlining the development process is because it creates a sense of urgency and allows teams to develop the sense of whether they are doing well or not based on the commitments they’ve made, according to Cunningham.
“Scrum is a very empirical process, which means we are going to observe what’s actually happening and then we are going to base our projections on that versus some pie-in-the-sky wish list,” he said. “When we have the ability to actually see what our throughput capability is, we are going to be able to see where we might have some difficulties with our planning versus our velocity.”
Getting Scrum into the Enterprise
Transitioning an organization to Scrum can be hard because there are many different adaptations and modifications to process. The route an organization takes with Scrum depends on the nature of the work and the size of the organization, according to Jon Terry, chief operating officer at LeanKit.
“For truly large enterprises, let’s call it the Fortune 1000, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Scaling up ‘agility’ can’t be just scaling up Scrum. It will necessarily be a hybrid of Scrum, Kanban, DevOps, and, let’s be honest, waterfall/SDLC,” said Terry. “We really think that a hybrid approach guided by a framework like SAFe is a major success factor versus implementing a pure-play approach and trying to adapt at a team level without an overarching roadmap.”
But before an organization begins to think about a hybrid approach, Cunningham believes they should start with the basics.
“We tend to make adaptations to the things that are painful, and those are the things that need to change the most,” he said.
When starting to attempt a Scrum transition, one of the most important things an organization has to decide is what the real vision is, according to Cunningham. “There needs to be clarity on whether they are trying to do something that affects just the software development part of the organization or if they are really looking on applying Agile practices and principles across every facet of their business,” he said. “It sets the tone for what to expect.”
Once vision is established, senior level or executive level support needs to happen. “Not just task it and write a check, but really visible and vocal support for the transformation because it is an organizational transformation type of thing, it is less technical especially on a large scale, it is less about the technology and more about organizational change,” said Cunningham.
Agile fundamentally is a team sport, so the transition to Scrum really needs to begin at the team level, according to Cunningham. Start small. “You can’t scale what you don’t have, it is important to make sure that the team is working well before trying to scale out to having teams of teams,” said Cunningham.
Consistent training across all the teams is also important so that everyone is speaking the same language. “Having a consistent terminology so everyone has a baseline commonality in terms of agile knowledge and also how that knowledge is going to be applied locally,” said Cunningham.
And training is not just for the workers, but also for the leaders as well. If leadership doesn’t understand the process or doesn’t support it, it is going to be difficult to gain traction above the team level. “Technical excellence is a huge factor in the success of any method,” said Terry. “In some ways, the visible methodology part of the change is less important than increasing the skill of people and the robustness of their tools.”
“And finally, culture, culture, culture. Good people do amazing things when they can work together in a healthy environment towards a well-understood goal.
Finding the right tooling
The first thing to remember when choosing a tool is that a tool is meant to make the process easier for the organization and teams; it is not meant to help transition over to Scrum in the organization, according to Cunningham.
“If an organization is looking for a tool to show them the way, then they are off on the wrong foot,” he said. “To me, the ideal prospect who is looking for a tool is a team who’s done Scrum manually, they’ve done cards on the wall, they’ve got the feel for it and developed the muscle memory. Once they’ve development the capability to get things done, then look for a tool that supports those aspects of Scrum.”
According to the experts, Scrum tools should include:
Analytics: A tool should be able to not only provide analytical capabilities at the team level, but also to stakeholder, and analytics should include custom reporting so data can be presented in a way that will make sense to diverse stakeholders even if they aren’t fully up-to-speed with Scrum, according to LeanKit’s Terry.
Collaboration: There needs to be a way for teams and both internal and external stakeholders to communicate, share ideas, share status, ask questions, gain context and retrieve information regardless of their location, according to Cunningham.
Flexibility: “Because enterprise agility means mixing large-scale Scrum with other approaches, an organization’s agile tool must be capable of handling multiple methods and local versions of those methods,” said Terry.
Integration: Organizations typically have many other tools in place of their tooling system, and the ability to easily integrate a Scrum tool into the enterprise’s larger support tooling is very important, according to Cunningham.
Security: “It needs to architecturally robust and redundant to ensure service and data retention. And it needs to be secure, both in and of itself, and able to plug into the enterprise’s existing user management and security systems,” said Terry.
Usability: A tool needs to be able to meet the needs of an organization and provide the functionality they need to support a Scrum effort. “If the tool is not easy for people to use, they will find a way not to use it,” said Cunningham.
“The bottom line is that enterprise tools must provide a lot of capabilities beyond the on-screen features that Scrum team level users will use or care about,” said Terry.
How can you successfully utilize enterprise Scrum?
Lee Cunningham, director of enterprise agile enablement at VersionOne: “The thing that makes Scrum work is doing it by the book. It’s just a few rules and a few roles, but it isn’t hard to adopt. Do it by the book and feel the pain, then in the process of retrospection in your improvement realize what the organization needs to change. In no case are we talking about changing the fundamental core or practices of Scrum, but more often making adaptions on how we do things in the larger organization that Scrum really isn’t explicit about. Adhering to the core framework of Scrum allows organizations to realize what they need to do to solve their problems.”
Jon Terry, chief operating officer at LeanKit: “We think that one of the most interesting methodology developments of the last couple of years has been the rise of SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework. While any enterprise has to adapt methods to local needs and conditions, it’s extremely helpful in our experience for senior executives to have a good picture of the general direction that the change will follow. In our experience, most IT executives understand by now that Scrum, Kanban, XP, DevOps, etc., are great at the team
level. What’s been lacking is that bigger picture. It mitigates a lot of risk.”
A guide to Enterprise Scrum offerings
Atlassian: Atlassian’s Agile Ready solution is a flexible, integrated set of tools that delivers team collaboration, agile planning and issue tracking for Scrum and Kanban teams. It allows teams to prioritize and plan sprints, stack on track with epics and swimlanes, reflect on productivity and make improvements based on built in reports.
Axosoft: Axosoft Scrum empowers software teams with complete visibility into their development process. In the Kanban card view, the status of items is clear as they progress through the workflow. Each team member’s capacity is visually represented with the Daily Scrum. At-a-glance burndown charts provide an overview of team velocity and the projected ship date of the release. These insights allow teams to ship on time and on budget using Scrum best practices.
CollabNet: CollabNet’s ScrumWorks Pro is a powerful agile project management solution for Scrum, Lean and Kanban. It delivers agile planning and management at program, product, release and sprint levels; provides team and individual task boards; and manages users and roles to maintain security. Other features include Kanban boards, reporting capabilities, Web-based planning, Web-based dashboards, release planning, sprint tracking and more.
Hansoft: Hansoft supports global companies as they migrate to become agile enterprises. Hansoft provides tools for team collaboration and project management for agile development of products and services. It is used in industries such as electronics, aerospace, game development, telecom, and cloud services. Members at all levels in these organizations use Hansoft for Scrum, SAFe, Kanban and tailored agile methods as well as for collaborative Gantt scheduling, defect tracking, real-time reporting, workload and portfolio analysis.
LeanKit: LeanKit provides a flexible, secure and robust solution to support whatever hybrid process the enterprise is implementing or evolving. LeanKit features virtual whiteboards that provide users with a single, consolidated view of the workflow that teams can access regardless of their location or device, and allows teams to work better together, plan and track their work, improve stakeholder visibility, measure effectiveness and it integrates with other systems.
Microsoft: Microsoft’s ALM tools— cloud-based Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server for on-premises— offer complete, customizable support of agile methodologies and Scrum, enabling teams of any size to adopt Scrum in a way that makes sense for their unique needs. Key features include backlog management, portfolio backlog management, team based sprint planning, taskboards, Kanban boards, burndown charts, live chat-based team rooms and customizable project dashboards.
Rally Software: Rally’s agile application lifecycle management platform for distributed agile development scales from starting an agile project team to foreseeing and organizing deliveries of an organization’s largest program. It comes in three editions: the unlimited edition integrates with application lifecycle data to track and manage progress and quality; the enterprise edition supports shared product backlogs, hierarchical projects, roll-up reporting and advanced analytics; and the community edition allows cross-functional teams to collaborate on daily work and provides real-time insights.
ScrumWise: ScrumWise is an intuitive Scrum tool that features backlog management, release planning, sprint planning, task boards, burndown charts and time tracking. With ScrumWise, teams, product owners and stakeholders can work together in different time zones, keep track of team velocity, see the status of each item, see if a team is over-allocated and get real-time insight into projects.
TechExcel: TechExcel’s DevSuite comes with built-in features for scalability, traceability and quality assurance. DevSuite enhances Scrum processes with hybrid agile functions that enable integration with requirements and quality management. Requirements and defects can easily be broken down to form development tasks. Test cases are added as sub-tasks, which can be used for testing within a sprint or by QA regression testing teams. DevSuite also tracks time spent and time remaining and automatically generates daily burndown reports to monitor progress.
Telerik: TeamPulse is an agile project management tool that helps software development teams easily adopt and scale agile practices within their organization. By improving collaboration and transparency, software projects are delivered on time, on budget and on value. With features like Best Practices Analyzer, Ideas and Feedback Portal as well as powerful dashboards, Telerik TeamPulse enables customers to achieve long-term success with agile development.
VersionOne: At the team level, VersionOne provides TeamRooms, a virtual place where teams can plan, track and collaborate with ease. It provides a simple, streamlined team environment with customizable views and easy collaboration, allowing teams to focus only on the information they need to get their jobs done. Above the team level, the VersionOne PlanningRoom enables high-level agile planners to track progress and adjust plans without the distraction of day-to-day development activities.