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Could Scrum Be The Best Agile Methodology Out There?

By Jason Tee

TheServerSide.com

There are plenty of Agile methodologies out there today. So many in fact, that one might think that the ever increasing number of attempts at refinement might actually be an indication of the failure of Agile itself – that is, until you discover the one, true, Agile methodology to rule them all, known as Scrum.

What does it mean to be Agile?

Make no mistake about it, Agile application development has caused a revolution in the world of IT and project management, and the revolution has continued to evolve with the passage of time. And why does Agile work? It’s because the Agile development process focuses on communication and feedback while working with rapid change in the development process. Agile works through processes that prefer regular inspection and adaptation, a philosophy that encourages teamwork, clear communication, and accountability and follows the best engineering practices that helps creating high-quality software.

And of course, you can’t talk about being Agile without being a zealot about testing your code. When you’re Agile, you test before and after pretty much every new addition to a computer program, which obviously improves the overall reliability of the project. Furthermore, Agile development encourages a the business client to feel as though they’ve got a hand in the project throughout its lifestyle, helping to ensure that the client feels involved with the process, hopefully ensuring that that also don’t end up complaining about the result.

Which Agile Methodology is Best?

Of course, there has been a proliferation of Agile methodologies in use today, with three of the most common being:

  • Extreme Programming
  • Scrum
  • Adaptive software Development

However, of the three, Scrum based Agile development really stands above the pack, largely due to its uniqueness. Scrum introduced the empirical process control, which encourages real time progress of a project, instead of planned schedules or best guesses. First applied by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle in 1990s, Scrum differs significantly from other agile methods.

In Scrum, developers embrace the assumption that change and problems will arise throughout the lifecycle of a project.

Scrum applies an incremental developing method to solve rapid changes.

In Scrum, projects are divided into work cadences, also known as sprints or iterations. Each sprint has a time frame which can be 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or maximum a month, and at the end of each spring, the whole team gathers and takes a review of the project’s progress. Problems are identified and the next sprint objectives are drawn out. During each sprint, teams work on the latest user requirements, also known as user stories, ensuring that after every iteration, user needs are taken care of and hopefully fulfilled.

The self-organized Scrum team

Another unique characteristic of Scrum is that it relies on self-organization. There is no team leader in the team; instead, they work cross-functionally, and a team as a whole takes the decision.

Making the Agile Development team work are two key players in the process: a ScrumMaster and a product owner. A ScrumMaster does not guide the team directly, but instead, acts as a liaison between the owner and the development team. The ScrumMaster makes sure that the Scrum methodology is being used as was intended and that results are gathered according to the needs of the owner.

The ScrumMaster also deals with the extraneous factors that can hinder the progress of development team on a specific sprint. Owner involvement is also important as he/she has the highest authority of the project, and the success or failure of a system affects the owner the most. Owner requirements are regularly updated and progress is shown to them after every sprint, so that the project is heading in the right direction. After each sprint, owners’ or other stakeholders’ feedback is important, as next sprint work is planned out.  

And of course, one of the nice features of Scrum is its flexibility. A Scrum methodology can be applied at the start of the project, around the final phase, or can be completely built through the Scrum methodology.

Of course, there never is a single silver bullet that solves every technical or organization challenge when it comes to managing a project and delivering a software product that the stakeholders will embrace, but in more cases than not, sprinting to the finish with a Scrum methodology will lead to success.  With core values that include a sensible set of roles, well defined responsibilities and continuous feedback and review, you know that a Scrum project will start off and end up on the right track. When it comes to methodologies, being Agile really is the only way to go, and the best way to be Agile is to Scrum, and that holds true for both the developers and stakeholders.

06 Jun 2011

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