Top positive review
A good book for solving the problems you may encounter while using Scrum.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 28, 2012
I recommend this book to those who are trying to spread Scrum into an organization.
In the introduction to the book Mike Cohn states that the book is not for those new to Scrum or for purists. He says it is for those who have started Scrum and have run into problems.
The book is divided into 5 parts:
Part I Getting Started
Part II Individuals
Part III Teams
Part IV The Organization
Part V Next Steps.
Succeeding with Agile walks you through how to spread Scrum in your organization and how to get better at Scrum along the way.
The author points out that being successful at rolling out Scrum can be difficult:
"But there are certain attributes of transitioning to Scrum that make it more difficult than most other changes. They are as follows:
* Successful change is not entirely top-down or bottom-up.
* The end state is unpredictable.
* Scrum is pervasive.
* Scrum is dramatically different.
* Change is coming more quickly than ever before.
* Best practices are dangerous."
Cohn also points out that departments outside of Engineering may have issues with Scrum:
"Finance groups will have to reconcile company policies on capitalizing or expensing with the way Scrum projects run. Sales will want to consider altering how they communicate date and scope commitments and may change how they structure contracts. With more groups affected by a move to Scrum, there is more chance for resistance and certainly more chance for misunderstandings. These add up to make transitioning to Scrum harder than other changes."
But for all of the difficulties, Scrum is very popular with stakeholders. Cohn says:
"One reason stakeholders are so satisfied is that time-to-market is reduced when using an agile process like Scrum. This faster time-to-market is enabled by the higher productivity of agile teams, which is in turn the result of the higher quality seen on agile projects. Because employees are freed up to do high-quality work and because they see their work delivered sooner into the hands of waiting users, job satisfaction goes up. With higher job satisfaction comes more engaged employees, which leads to more productivity gains, initiating a virtuous cycle of continued improvement."
Many organizations try to keep the role of Project Manager while also using Scrum. In the book, Mike Cohn argues against that:
"On Scrum projects we acknowledge the untenable role of the project manager and eliminate it. Eliminating the role, though, does not mean we can do away with the work and responsibilities."
He says that the responsibilities that were carried out by the Project Manager are shifted to the Team, the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner.
The author notes that while the Scrum framework does not prescribe software development methodologies, Scrum teams have found certain practices improve the product. He writes:
"...we will look at common technical practices used by Scrum teams to improve the quality of their work: test-driven development, refactoring, collective ownership, continuous integration, and pair programming. While I just referred to these as common practices, the truth is that they are not so common. These practices are well regarded and lead to higher quality, but because they can be hard to put into practice, they are used less often than they should be."
Cohn also points out that planning is just as essential in Scrum as it is in other methodologies. He says:
"Planning is a fundamental aspect of Scrum. Scrum teams commit to always working on the features with the highest value. To do this, the team and product owner must have an estimate of how much a feature will cost to develop; otherwise they are prioritizing on desirability alone. Similarly, it is important to estimate how long a feature will take to develop--a feature that misses a critical market window will deliver much less value. Clearly, for a Scrum team to live up to its promise of working in priority order, planning must be an essential practice."
However, he points out that planning is not a one time acivity but is an ongoing one, where the plans are continually revised.
Cohn also warns against trying to achieve quality by testing after the fact:
"Scrum teams make testing a central practice and part of the development process rather than something that happens after the developers are 'done.' Rather than trying to test quality after a product has been built, we build quality into the process and product as it is being developed. W. Edwards Deming was an American professor and consultant best known for his work in Japan emphasizing the impact of quality on cost and productivity. He maintained that quality could not be added to a product later. He wrote that we should 'cease dependence on mass inspection to achieve quality. Improve the process and build quality into the product in the first place' (2000, 23)."
Overall I learned a great deal from the book and enjoyed reading it.