Agile is the current flavour of the month for software development and with good reason. Used wisely it drastically increases the chances of delivering software in a timely fashion. Following the processes helps to ensure that the end product meets the needs of the business. Like any development methodology it takes time and energy to learn, but in this case the effort brings abundant rewards.
In my experience a common misconception about the 4 values in the manifesto is that you should adopt the points at the start of each value to the exclusion of the points at the end. The manifesto isn’t saying that at all, rather that where possible we should strive for the former over the latter, but remember there is room for both. For example, responding to change doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan. In fact, Agile includes different planning processes according to the size and nature of the project.
Scrum methodology states that each member of the Scrum Team contributes in whatever way they can to complete the work of each sprint, so the old roles of programmer, designer, tester, etc. naturally become blurred. There are 2 clearly defined agile roles.
- The project’s key stakeholder is known as the Product Owner.
- The Scrum Master is responsible for making sure that the Scrum team lives by the values and practices of Scrum.
As a Project Manager at Inviqa much of my time is spent fulfilling the Scrum Master’s duties, so when the chance came up to do the Certified Scrum Master training I jumped at it. I’m so glad I did!
The course I attended last month was conducted by Mike Cohn of Mountain Goat Software. I could have attended an earlier course, but my head of training said that Mike was the best and worth waiting for. How right he was! Mike’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious. Not only does he thoroughly know the theory, but he’s always keen to back up each point with a real life example from his own experience.
Day 1 started with an overview of Scrum. The following sections covered Sprints (aka Iterations), the Product Backlog (including User Stories and Backlog Refinement) and finally the 3 roles of Scrum.
At the end of Day 1 I noticed some attendees going up to Mike with questions about the day. I waited for the last one to finish and then took my turn. I explained one of the agile challenges I was facing at Inviqa. Mike listened carefully and then couched his advice based on similar experiences he’d had. Encouraged by this I continued the discussion for about 20 minutes covering my other agile hurdles. I found Mike’s help invaluable.
Day 2 covered Sprint Planning (including the 2 approaches Commitment-Driven and Velocity-Driven), Long-term Planning (including Planning Poker and Confidence Intervals), Tracking Progress (including Burndown Charts), Meetings (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Product Backlog Refinement, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective) and concluded with Scaling & Distributing.
At the end of Day 2, like the majority of the attendees, I thanked Mike personally for a truly great course.
The weekend following the course I took time out to take the on-line exam which I passed, thereby became a Certified ScrumMaster.
As you’ve probably guessed by now I heartily recommend this Certified ScrumMaster course. It catered well for people like me with a few year’s agile under their belts and equally well to people new to the area.