I recently had the privilege to take a 2-day Professional Scrum Master training from Scrum.org. It was an engaging and thought-provoking time to discuss new ways to apply Scrum principles in real-life work settings.
There were lots of take-aways, but one of the big ones for me came in the form of these four simple charts that truly crystallize the value proposition of the agile-Scum framework as compared to more traditional plan-driven methodologies (e.g. waterfall):
1. Business Value
The main tenant of agile is to maximize business value at each opportunity by producing a releasable product/feature with each iteration/sprint. The chart below depicts the quick ramp-up in business value that is fostered in Agile Development as compared to traditional development which typically waits to deliver value in one-large release at the end of development.
This chart displays how agile projects can (if needed) be ended earlier when the desired business value has been obtained.
To maximize the business value delivered at each iteration, the product and plan needs to be regularly inspected by stakeholders through sprint demos and sprint review sessions. The Scrum framework is based on the empirical process. Its three tenants are: transparency, adaptation, and inspection. Keeping the progress of the product frequently visible for stakeholders and product owners is an integral part of Scrum’s success. Creating a burn-down chart for stakeholders to monitor progress towards completion or future releases also helps with visibility.
Another fun way to depict the differences between agile vs traditional development is the submarine vs. the dolphin. In traditional plan-driven development, the project team (like a submarine) dives deep into the requirements to create a functional specification and a detailed project plan to guide development. It typically highlights progress at the very end when the team re-emerges with a production-ready product.
Compare this approach to the Scrum “dolphin”, which surfaces for air frequently through sprint reviews at the end of each iteration, where demos are typically conducted and the ongoing plan/schedule is reviewed. This allows for frequent feedback and more visibility into the current progress.
“Change is the only constant in life.” This motto especially rings true in the world of developing complex systems and products. Being able to quickly adapt when new information is learned, or new business opportunities arise, is one of the primary benefits of Agile Development as compared to traditional/waterfall development where the ability to modify direction quickly falls as time goes on. The ability to adapt at various stages in an agile project is fostered by agile ceremonies like retrospectives, sprint reviews, shorter iterations (1-2 weeks), and daily Scrums.
The agile framework advocates for “thin-slice” or vertical development, which means that a little bit of each application layer (UI, business logic, database, etc.) is developed during each iteration, so that the product can be fully releasable. This approach pulls forward integrations and other risky activities to the earlier stages of the project where there is more time to address difficult issues and adjust course if needed.
Ready to Become More Agile?
If your organization is just getting started with agile, Core can help you move forward with our Agile Training/Coaching sessions. We also have several highly effective and productive agile teams working internally that can deliver entire projects for your organization. Feel free to reach out and we can work together to discover the best approach for your organization.