PEARL I : SCRUM : An Introduction on Origin,Evolution,Definition,Adoption and Future

PEARL I : SCRUM : An Introduction on Origin,Evolution,Definition,Adoption and Future


The first software development Scrum was created at Easel Corporation  in 1993 based on extensive research on successful projects worldwide, a deep analysis of the computer science literature, close collaboration with leading productivity experts, and decades of experience with advanced software technologies. Jeff Sutherland was the Chief Engineer for the Object Studio team that defined roles, hired the first Product Owner and ScrumMaster, developed the first Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog and built the first portfolio of products created with Scrum. They built the first object-oriented design and analysis tool that  incorporated round-trip engineering in the initial SCRUM. A second SCRUM  implemented the first product to completely automate object-relational mapping in an  enterprise development environment. Jeff was assisted by two world-class developers, Jeff  McKenna, now an extreme programming (XP) consultant, and John Scumniotales, now a  development leader for object-oriented design tools at Rational Corporation.

There were some key factors that influenced the introduction of SCRUM at Easel Corporation. The book “Wicked Problems, Righteous Solutions” (DeGrace and Stahl 1990) reviewed the reasons why the waterfall approach to software development does not work for software development today. Requirements are not fully understood before the  project begins. The user knows what they want only after they see an initial version of the  software. Requirements change during the software construction process. And new tools  and technologies make implementation strategies unpredictable. DeGrace and Stahl  reviewed “All-at-Once” models of software development which uniquely fit object oriented implementation of software.
In 1995, Jeff introduced the Scrum team to Ken Schwaber, CEO of Advanced Development Methods. Ken agreed that Scrum was a better way to build software and they worked together to formalize the Scrum development process at OOPSLA’95 . In the same year, Sutherland provided support for development of eXtreme Programming by giving Kent Beck all background information on the creation of Scrum and the results of two years of product development with the Scrum process from 1993-95. XP engineering practices evolved along with Scrum and the two leading Agile development processes work well together. Scrum and XP are the most widely used Agile processes worldwide and their creators are signatories of the Agile Manifesto.

One of the influences that sparked the creation of the Scrum Agile development process was a Harvard Business Review paper on Japanese new product  development by Takeuchi and Nonaka  . A key  component of their presentation was a chart showing product development separated into silo’s (Type A),  phases slightly overlapped (Type B), and all phases of  development overlapping (Type C). The Authors viewed  Type A product development as implemented at NASA as  an outmoded relay race process. Fuji-Xerox abandoned the  NASA approach for Type B which they called “Sashimi”  because slices of work overlapped with collaboration  between phases. Type C was implemented at Canon and  Honda. Takeuchi and Nonaka envisioned Types B and C as  a Rugby approach where multiple phases of product  development are done simultaneously. Scrum is a Rugby  formation and they viewed an “all-at-once” process as  similar to a Rugby team moving down the field passing the  ball back and forth

Jeff Sutherland got the name “Scrum” from the famous article “The New New Product Development Game,” which was published by Takeuchi and Nonaka in the Harvard Business Review in 1986. This article describes how companies like Honda, Cannon, Fuji-Xerox produced world class results using a scalable, team based approach to all at once product development. It also emphasizes the importance of empowered self organizing teams and outlines managements role in the development process.

On the first page of the article they write: “Companies are increasingly realizing that the old, sequential approach to developing new products simply won’t get the job done. Instead companies

in Japan and the United States are using a holistic method – as in rugby, the ball gets passed within the team as it moves as a unit up the field.

The Evolution

Evolution occurs in dynamic response to environmental demands.

After discussing the notion of various types of Scrum  with Certified ScrumMasters in Scrum Alliance workshops  and with development teams at Microsoft, Yahoo, Ariba,  Adobe, GE Healthcare, and other companies, it appeared  that the chart in article can be applied to a higher level of  thinking about three types of Scrum—going beyond the  thinking of Takeuchi and Nonaka

In a Type A Scrum, all development occurs in an increment within the time box of Scrum iteration called a Sprint. A side effect of this approach is downtime between iterations when reorganizing for the next Sprint. Nevertheless, well executed Sprints can double productivity and repeatedly deliver projects on time, within budget, with functionality precisely targeted to end-user demands.
By adding product definition tasks for the next Sprint into the current Sprint, a Type B Sprint allows work to flow smoothly from Sprint to Sprint. Product backlog requirements for the next Sprint are developed in the current Sprint. This has enabled some development organizations to deliver more working product than sales, marketing, or customers can absorb. The development bottleneck is eliminated and the company can adopt new strategies and create new products that were previously impossible to deliver.
Type C Sprint can be envisioned as overlapping Sprints by running software releases through the same Scrum team at the same time. This requires experienced Scrum teams, well designed product architecture, and automation of Product and Sprint backlogs. Throughput can be enhanced to deliver dozens of new releases of enterprise software annually. Competitors can be overwhelmed and market dominance achieved.

Type C Scrum increases speed of development,  aligns individual and corporate objectives, creates a  culture driven by performance, supports shareholder  value creation, achieves stable and consistent  communication of performance at all levels, and enhances  individual development and quality of life

To deal with simultaneous weekly and monthly  Sprints, along with quarterly major releases, a MetaScrum  was formed at PatientKeeper led by the lead Product  Owner. This is a weekly meeting that typical takes 1.5  hours and includes the CEO and other senior  management, as well as leadership from marketing,  development, quality assurance, installation, and support.
Takeuchi and Nonaka observed that collapsing phases of product development improved innovation, throughput, time to market, and product acceptance. As market pressures have evolved and changed, it is possible to collapse Scrum Sprints to create a dramatic increase in business opportunity.

Sutherland and Schwaber evolved  Scrum through trial and error at a number of companies during the  s – NewsPage, IDX Systems, Fidelity Investments, and PatientKeeper.  The Daily Scrum, the burndowns and  the Sprint Backlog were added, and  planning Sprints were dropped. !e  importance of self-managing, cross functional teams became apparent and a bedrock to Scrum.

Schwaber also collaborated with process control scientists at DuPont to tie Scrum to first principles in industrial process control theory, learning that the reason Scrum worked was
that it was empirical.

“In , the Agile Manifesto was formed,” says Schwaber. “!e signatories gathered in SnowBird because they felt their approach to software development had  something in common that was far better and more people-oriented than the  emerging favored process of the day, Rational Unified Process. !e principles  of the manifesto are the common touch
points that we agreed upon.”
Today, Schwaber notices that the term “Agile” is often used in a careless way.“Many people think that there are Agile processes. There aren’t. There are processes that conform to the Agile  Manifesto principles, such as Scrum and  Extreme Programming. However, the  word Agile is often used as a description  for ‘we aren’t using waterfall.’ That is not what Agile means!”
In Schwaber’s mind, Scrum and Agile  started emerging for two reasons: The Agile Manifesto was a rallying point for dissatisfaction and a new  approach. The emergence of new IDEs  that were as powerful as SmallTalk, like VisualStudio and Eclipse, were the technological enablers.

Scrum has streamlined software development — and professionals from around the world are starting to see the value of using Scrum. Of all the possible Agile frameworks used by companies, 66 percent are Scrum or Scrum variants.

Scrum has the power to transform project management across every industry, every business, and even across life in general. By using Scrum, teams become more Agile, discovering how to react more quickly and respond more accurately to the inevitable change that comes in the teams way. And by staying focused, collaborating, and communicating, you can accomplish what truly needs to be done — successfully.

Most important, Scrum is not unproven hype. It’s a solid and successful Agile framework that’s been applied to a variety of projects and teams. Universities use Scrum to deliver valued projects to clients. Militaries have relied on Scrum to prepare ships for deployment. In the automotive world, Team Wikispeed is using Scrum to build a fast, affordable, ultra-efficient, safe commuter car that should sell for less than $20,000.

So whether you’re working on the next smartphone app, managing logistics for a store, or planning a charity event, you should take a closer look at using Scrum. And Scrum Alliance can give you the proven framework, best implementation practices, and supportive guidance you need to achieve success.

The most profitable software product ever created (Google Adwords ) is powered by Scrum and the most productive large project with over a million lines of code (SirsiDynix and Starsoft) used a distributed, outsourced, Scrum implementation. CMMI Level 5 companies cut costs in half with Scrum while simultaneously improving quality, customer satisfaction, and the developer experience (Systematic Software Engineering). At the same time, Scrum remains the process of choice in small entrepreneurial companies where it has it roots.

Scrum Theory
Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that  knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk.  Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency,  inspection, and adaptation.

Significant aspects of the process must be visible to those responsible for the outcome.
Transparency requires those aspects be defined by a common standard so observers share a  common understanding of what is being seen.
For example:

  • A common language referring to the process must be shared by all participants; and,
  • Those performing the work and those accepting the work product must share a common definition of “Done”

Scrum users must frequently inspect Scrum artifacts and progress toward a Sprint Goal to detect  undesirable variances. Their inspection should not be so frequent that inspection gets in the way  of the work. Inspections are most beneficial when diligently performed by skilled inspectors at  the point of work.
If an inspector determines that one or more aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable  limits, and that the resulting product will be unacceptable, the process or the material being  processed must be adjusted. An adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize  further deviation.
Scrum prescribes four formal events for inspection and adaptation, as described in the Scrum

  •  Sprint Planning
  •  Daily Scrum
  •  Sprint Review
  •  Sprint Retrospective


Scrum is based on small set of values, principles, and practices called collectively the Scrum Framework. Organizations using scrum shall use the scrum framework entirely perhaps not through the entire organization at once, but certainly within the initial teams that use scrum

Core Scrum — Values and roles

Values from the Agile Manifesto

Scrum is the best known of the Agile frameworks. It is the source of much of the thinking behind the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto, which forms a common basis for all of these approaches.

The Agile Manifesto values apply directly to Scrum:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Scrum, like all the Agile frameworks and methods, relies directly on trust in teams, the individuals in the teams, and the way they interact. Teams figure out what is to be done, teams figure out how to do it, and teams do it. Teams identify what’s getting in their way, and they take the responsibility to resolve all the difficulties that are within their scope. Teams work with other parts of the organization to resolve the concerns that are outside their control. This is critical. Trying to do Scrum but undermining this primary focus on team responsibility and autonomy will generally lead to trouble.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation. Scrum requires a working, finished increment of the product as the primary result of every sprint. Certainly there will be analysis work, design work, and testing work, all of which may need to be documented. But it is having a result (working software) that allows the organization to guide the project to success. This is critical. Scrum teams must produce a product increment in every sprint.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. The Scrum product owner is the Scrum team’s prime point of contact with the eventual end users of the product. The product owner is a member of the team and works collaboratively with the team to determine what needs to be done. In this collaboration, the product owner selects the most valuable next things to do, ensuring that the product has the highest possible value at every point in time. This is critical. The product owner needs to build a rich collaboration with the team.
  • Responding to change over following a plan. Everything about Scrum is designed to make sure that everyone has the information they need to make good decisions about the project. The project’s progress is represented by a real, running product increment. The backlog of things to be done is available for all to see. Progress, both overall and sprint by sprint, is clearly visible. Problems and concerns are discussed openly and dealt with immediately. This is critical. Scrum works well for teams that openly inspect what’s going on and adapt their actions to the reality. It works poorly for those who do not.

Scrum values

All work performed in Scrum needs a firm foundation of values for the team’s process and principles. With its emphasis on teamwork and continuous improvement, Scrum both creates those values and relies on them. The values are focus, courage, openness, commitment, and respect. From the team’s perspective, the values offer the following guides:

  • Focus. Because we focus on only a few things at a time, we work well together and produce excellent work. We deliver valuable items sooner.
  • Courage. Because we are not alone, we feel supported and have more resources at our disposal. This gives us the courage to undertake greater challenges.
  • Openness. As we work together, we practice expressing how we’re doing and what’s in our way. We learn that it is good to express concerns so that they can be addressed.
  • Commitment. Because we have great control over our own destiny, we become more committed to success.
  • Respect. As we work together, sharing successes and failures, we come to respect each other and to help each other become worthy of respect.

If an organization will let Scrum do its work, everyone involved will discover the benefits and will begin to understand why Scrum both engenders and relies upon these values.

The Scrum framework

Scrum is a framework for building a product.

Scrum is also a team process that begins when stakeholders need a product. The Scrum team includes three roles: the product owner, the ScrumMaster, and the members of the development team. These roles are further described below. The product is built incrementally over a series of short time periods called sprints. A sprint is a fixed time period, up to four weeks long but with a preference toward shorter intervals. During each sprint, the Scrum team builds and delivers a product increment. Each increment is a recognizable, visibly improved, operating subset of the product, meeting understood acceptance criteria and built to a level of quality referred to as the Definition of Done.

Scrum includes three essential artifacts: the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the product increment. The product backlog is the list of ideas for the product, in the order we expect to build them. The sprint backlog is the detailed plan for development during the next sprint. The product increment, a required result of every sprint, is an integrated version of the product, kept at high enough quality to be shippable if the product owner chooses to ship it.

In addition, Scrum requires transparency within the team and with the stakeholders. Therefore the Scrum team produces visible displays of plans and progress.

Scrum also includes five activities or meetings. These are the backlog refinement, sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.

SCRUM project planning uses lightweight techniques such as Burndown  Charts, as opposed to PERT charts. A PERT chart is only as good as the assumptions  inherent in the critical path represented on the chart. In agile development, the critical  path usually changes daily, rendering any given PERT chart obsolete within 24 hours.  The solution is using a technique to calculate the velocity of development. The neural  networks in the brains of team members are used on a daily basis to calculate the critical  path. This allows the plan to be recalculated and the velocity of “burndown” of work to  be computed. Team efforts to accelerate or decelerate the velocity of burndown allow a  team to “fly” the project into a fixed delivery date.

SCRUM is  the only agile methodology that has been formalized and published as an organizational  pattern for software development (Beedle, Devos et al. 1999). The process assumes that  requirements will change during the period between initial specification and delivery of a  product. It supports Humphrey’s Requirements Uncertainty Principle which states that for  a new software system, the requirements will not be completely known until after the  users have used it. SCRUM allows for Ziv’s Uncertainty Principle in software  engineering – uncertainty is inherent and inevitable in software development processes  and products (Ziv and Richardson 1997). And it support Wegner’s Lemma which states  that it is not possible to completely specify an interactive system (Wegner 1995). Most  software systems built today are object-oriented implementations which depend on  environmental inputs to determine process outputs, i.e. interactive systems.

Scrum roles

Product owner

The product owner has responsibility for deciding what work will be done. This is the single individual who is responsible for bringing forward the most valuable product possible by the desired date. The product owner does this by managing the flow of work to the team, selecting and refining items from the product backlog. The product owner maintains the product backlog and ensures that everyone knows what is on it and what the priorities are. The product owner may be supported by other individuals but must be a single person.

Certainly the product owner is not solely responsible for everything. The entire Scrum team is responsible for being as productive as possible, for improving its practices, for asking the right questions, for helping the product owner.

Nonetheless, the product owner, in Scrum, is in a unique position. The product owner is typically the individual closest to the “business side” of the project. The product owner is charged by the organization to “get this product out” and is the person who is expected to do the best possible job of satisfying all the stakeholders. The product owner does this by managing the product backlog and by ensuring that the backlog, and progress against it, is kept visible.

The product owner, by choosing what the development team should do next and what to defer, makes the scope-versus-schedule decisions that should lead to the best possible product.

Development team member

The development team is made up of the professionals who do the work of delivering the product increment. Scrum requires that the development team be a cross-functional group of people who, as a group, have all the necessary skills to deliver each increment of the product.

The development team members are expected to be available to the project full time, not splitting their time over numerous projects. They have the responsibility of self-organizing to accomplish each sprint goal, producing each new product increment according to each sprint plan.

The product owner makes an ordered list of what needs to be done; the development team members forecast how much they can do in one sprint, and they decide how they are going to do it.


The ScrumMaster is a “servant leader” who helps the rest of the Scrum team follow the process. The ScrumMaster must have a good understanding of the Scrum framework and the ability to train others in its subtleties.

The ScrumMaster helps the product owner understand how to create and maintain the product backlog. He or she works with the entire Scrum team to evolve the Definition of Done. The ScrumMaster also works with the development team to find and implement the technical practices needed to get to Done at the end of each sprint.

Another responsibility of the ScrumMaster is to remove impediments to the team’s progress. These impediments may be external to the team (such as a lack of support from another team) or internal (such as the product owner not knowing how to properly prepare the product backlog). That said, the ScrumMaster fosters self-organization, meaning that the team itself should remove issues wherever possible.

The ScrumMaster may facilitate meetings and always acts as a coach for the Scrum team, helping it execute the Scrum process. He or she helps team members work together and learn the Scrum framework, and protects them from both internal and external distractions. The ScrumMaster keeps the Scrum team on track, productive, and growing in ability.

Ultimately, the ScrumMaster is responsible for ensuring that Scrum is understood and in place, inside the team and outside. He or she helps people outside the team understand the process and the kinds of interactions with the team that are helpful (and those that are not). The ScrumMaster helps everyone improve to make the Scrum team more productive and valuable.

Artifact: Product backlog

The product backlog is crucial tool that enables the scrum team to achieve fast, flexible, value delivery flow in the presence of uncertainty.

The product backlog is an essential artifact in Scrum. It is an ordered list of ideas for the product, kept in the order in which the team expects to do them. It is the single source from which all requirements flow. This means that all the work the development team does comes from the product backlog. Every feature idea, enhancement, bug fix, documentation requirement — every bit of work the team does — is derived from a product backlog item. Each item on the product backlog includes a description and an estimate of the team capacity required to produce it.

Scrum Overview

The product backlog may begin as a large list or a short one. It may be vague or detailed. Typically, it begins short and vague and becomes longer and more concrete as time goes on. Product backlog items slated for implementation soon will be clarified, better defined, and split into smaller chunks as part of the product backlog refinement activity.

The Product Owner is accountable for maintaining the product backlog, although he or she may — and should — have help in producing it and keeping it up to date. Individual product backlog items may originate from the Product Owner, from team members, or from other stakeholders.

Activity: Product backlog refinement

Since product backlog items are often large and general in nature, and since ideas come and go and priorities change, product backlog refinement is an ongoing activity throughout a Scrum project. This activity includes but is not limited to:

  • Keeping the product backlog ordered
  • Removing or demoting items that no longer seem important
  • Adding or promoting items that arise or become more important
  • Splitting items into smaller items
  • Merging items into larger items
  • Estimating items

One key benefit of the product backlog refinement activity is that it helps prepare for upcoming sprints. Considerations include but are not limited to:

  • Whether each item entering the sprint truly represents an increment of “business value”
  • Whether the development team needs to be able to build each item within just a single sprint
  • Whether everyone on the team has a clear understanding of the purpose of each item

Depending on the nature of the product, other skills and inputs may be necessary. In every case, product backlog refinement is best considered as an activity for all team members, not just for the Product Owner.

Activity: Sprint planning

Each sprint begins with a time-boxed meeting called the sprint planning meeting. In this meeting the Scrum team collaborates to select and understand the work to be done in the upcoming sprint.

The entire team attends the sprint planning meeting. Working from the ordered product backlog, the Product Owner and the development team members discuss each item and come to a shared understanding of that item and what is required to complete it according to the current Definition of Done. All Scrum meetings are time-boxed. The recommended time for the sprint planning meeting is two hours or less per week of sprint duration. Because the meeting is time-boxed, the success of the sprint planning meeting is highly dependent upon the quality of the product backlog going in. This is why product backlog refinement is an important Scrum activity.

Scrum moves control from a central scheduling dispatching authority to individual teams doing the work.

In Scrum, the sprint planning meeting is described as having two parts:

  1. Determine what work will be completed in the sprint
  2. Determine how the work will be accomplished

In the first part of the meeting, the Product Owner presents ordered product backlog items to the development team, and the whole Scrum team collaborates to understand the work.

The number of product backlog items to undertake in the sprint is solely up to the development team. To decide how many items to undertake, the development team considers the current state of the product increment, the past performance of the team, the team’s current capacity, and the ordered product backlog. The development team alone decides how much work to take on. Neither the Product Owner nor any other agency can push more work onto the development team.

Often, but not always, the sprint has a goal. Having a sprint goal is a strong practice that helps everyone focus more on the essence of what needs to be done and less on small details that may not truly be important for the final product.

In the second part of the meeting, the development team collaborates to decide how to produce the next product increment in accordance with the current Definition of Done. The team does sufficient design and planning to be confident of completing the work during the sprint. Work to be done in the early days is broken down into small units of one day or less. Work to be done later may be left in larger units to be decomposed later.

Deciding how to do the work is the responsibility of the development team, just as deciding what to do is the responsibility of the Product Owner.

The Product Owner needs to be readily available to the team even if he or she does not attend this part of the meeting. However, the Product Owner may remain to answer questions and resolve misunderstandings.

Sprint planning concludes with the Scrum team reaching a common understanding of the quantity and complexity of what is to be accomplished during the sprint and with a rational expectation of being able to complete it. The development team forecasts the amount of work it will complete and commits to accomplishing it.

To summarize, in the sprint planning meeting the development team:

  • Considers and discusses product backlog items with the Product Owner
  • Ensures that all team members understand those items
  • Selects a number of items to achieve
  • Creates a sufficiently detailed plan to ensure that achievement

The resulting list of things to do is the sprint backlog.

Artifact: Sprint backlog

The sprint backlog is the list of refined product backlog items chosen for development in the current sprint, together with the team’s plan for accomplishing that work. It reflects the team’s forecast of what work can be completed.

With the sprint backlog in place, the sprint begins, and the development team develops the new product increment defined by the sprint backlog.


During the sprint, the development team self-organizes to produce the defined product increment. Self-organizing means that the development team determines how to produce and then does produce the product increment, in accordance with organizational standards, according to the Definition of Done.

Artifact: Product increment

The most important Scrum artifact is the product increment. Every sprint produces a product increment that must be of high enough quality to be given to users. The product increment must meet the Scrum team’s current Definition of Done, and each component of it must be acceptable to the Product Owner.

Additional indicators of visible progress

Scrum requires transparency within the team and outside the team. While the product increment is the most important way of creating transparency, the Scrum team will create any other artifacts that are needed to make sure that the status of the project is understood. Such artifacts commonly include burn charts and task boards.

Definition of Done

When the product increment is delivered, it needs to be “done” according to a shared understanding of what “done” means. This definition is different for every Scrum team, and as the team matures the Definition of Done will expand and become more stringent.

The Definition of Done must always include the notion that the product increment be of high enough quality to be shippable: The Product Owner could choose to release it immediately. The product increment includes the functionality of all previous product increments and is fully tested so that all completed product backlog items continue to work together.

Activity: Daily Scrum

The self-organizing development team uses the daily Scrum meeting to ensure that it is on track for attaining the sprint goal. The meeting takes place at the same time and place, every day. Each development team member gives three pieces of information:

  • What I have accomplished since our last daily Scrum
  • What I plan to accomplish between now and our next daily Scrum
  • What (if anything) is impeding my progress

There may be brief, clarifying questions and answers, but there is no discussion of any of these topics during the daily Scrum itself. However, many teams meet right after the daily Scrum to work on any issues that have come up.

The daily Scrum is not a report to management, nor to the Product Owner, nor to the ScrumMaster. It is a communication meeting within the development team that ensures that team members are all on the same page. Only the Scrum team members, including ScrumMaster and Product Owner, speak during this meeting (although other interested parties may come and listen). Based on what comes up in the meeting, the development team reorganizes the work as needed to accomplish the sprint goal.

The daily Scrum is a key element of Scrum, leading to transparency, trust, and better performance. It provides rapid recognition of problems and builds the team’s self-organization and self-reliance. All Scrum meetings are timeboxed; the recommended timebox for the daily Scrum is no more than 15 minutes.

Activity: Sprint review

At the end of the sprint, the Scrum team and stakeholders review the sprint’s output. The recommended timebox for the sprint review is one hour per week of sprint duration.

The central point of discussion is the product increment completed during the sprint. It is generally both wise and helpful for the stakeholders to attend this meeting, since they are directly interested in the product. This is an informal meeting to look at where the team is and to collaborate on how it might go forward. Everyone has input at the sprint review. Naturally, the Product Owner makes the final decisions about what happens next, updating the product backlog as appropriate.

Every teams will find its own way to handle the sprint review. A demonstration of the product increment is a common procedure. Groups also often discuss what they observed during the sprint and what product ideas came to mind. They discuss the state of the product backlog and talk about possible completion dates and what might be achieved by those dates.

The sprint review gives everyone present an overview of the current product increment; therefore, it is common to update the product backlog as part of the sprint review.

Activity: Sprint retrospective

The Scrum team improves its own process, always remaining within the Scrum framework. Therefore, at the end of each sprint, the Scrum team meets for the sprint retrospective. The purpose is to review how things went in terms of the process, relationships among people, and the tools. The team identifies what went well and what didn’t go so well, and it identifies potential improvements. The recommended timebox for the sprint retrospective is one hour per week of sprint duration.

Rinse, repeat

This Scrum cycle repeats for every sprint.

To sum up, the Scrum team’s members (the Product Owner, the development team, and the ScrumMaster) collaborate to create a series of product increments during short, time-boxed intervals called sprints. Each increment meets the Product Owner’s acceptance criteria and the team’s shared Definition of Done. The team works from a product backlog. During each sprint, the team begins with sprint planning to produce the sprint backlog, which is a plan for the sprint. The team self-organizes to handle the development, using daily Scrum meetings to coordinate and to ensure that they are producing the best possible product increment. The team performs product backlog refinement to prepare for the next sprint’s planning meeting. It ends the sprint with the sprint review and sprint retrospective, reviewing the product and the process.

Adoption and Future

“Scrum and Agile are similar to Lean Thinking. Scrum is a new way of doing business, but there won’t be that many that reap all of its benefits – such as productivity,  quality, engaged people, and maximized return on investment. American automobile companies were immersed  in running their operations top-down, using the principles of Scientific Management to try to plan everything.
Even while Toyota began to reach their market by using flexible lean techniques, they were unable to adapt. The change in perceptions, culture, and habits was too great.  Many places that are trying to shift from the predictive  approaches of waterfall and command and control are  having the same problems. The change in thinking is  particularly hard. The improved engineering practices  to support the change are also hard. Ken Schwaber predicted that only  those organizations with compelling reason to change  and management with insight and courage will succeed.”
“John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, put his organization through such a change over the last four years and commented that it was the hardest thing he had ever  done.

“I predict that only 15–25 % of all organizations attempting to use Scrum throughout the enterprise will  succeed in making the change and reaping the benefits. As a result, they will out-compete those who weren’t  able to change and become dominant players in their markets”

In February and March of 2013, Scrum Alliance, and  ProjectsAtWork surveyed their  readership on use, knowledge  and views of Scrum.  The extensive survey of nearly 500 participants included  in-depth interviews and a literature review.  Participants from more than 70 countries responded to the  survey, with the United States leading at 35% and India second at 12%. The United Kingdom,Canada and Australia accounted  for 4% each, with Germany at  3% and South Korea, Mexico,Belgium, Brazil, Malaysia and New Zealand comprising 2%.

The majority of the participants are from the IT industry (41%),but a good representation camefrom Finance (12%), Government(6%), Healthcare (6%) and Telecommunications (5%), indicating the growing interest in Scrum outside IT. 53% of the participants were from organizations with 1,000 or fewer employees, yet 44% were with companies with annual revenues of $50M to $1B+. 28% were from organizations with ISO 9001 certification, but nearly half (48%) did not have any.

Key Findings
• While 41% of organizations are jumping into Agile waters without requiring a specific certification of their employees, 54% either agree or strongly agree that a certification such as the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) improves their chances of sustained success.
• Culture is king in the Agile world—and according to a majority of respondents, organizations must create cultures that encourage collaboration in order to deliver value to their customers. This includes fostering self-organized teams and active support from management. Scrum facilitates all of these success factors.
• Scrum is the overwhelmingly preferred Agile method, used by 40% of respondents.The second-most popular method is Kanban, often using many elements of Scrum,a noteworthy trend as organizations seek to find for themselves what works for their specific domains and needs.
How Often and Why They Use Scrum
• In terms of current Agile approaches, Scrum leads the way: 40% of those sampled claimed to be adherents. It was followed by Kanban (15%) and Lean (11%). 19% of the participants used Scrum for up to a quarter of their projects that fall outside of IT, the
majority (38%) of which are in R&D, operations or production.
• 60% of the survey participants used Scrum regularly. 39% used Scrum more broadly throughout their business as one of their project management practices, while 16% used it exclusively for software development projects. 46% of the participants are deploying and managing Scrum projects within a Project Management Office (PMO), and 24% feel that managing and deploying Scrum projects this way is effective and successful.
• In terms of business priorities for Scrum projects, 41% feel that fulfilling customer needs is highest, while meeting budget, time and scope constraints as well as engaging in projects that drive innovation and market share followed with 36%. In terms of providing customer satisfaction while using Scrum, 27% feel having active senior management support is vital,  and 22% say a clear set of business goals for what gets achieved is necessary. That is why over half felt that cultural influences such as an open and collaborative environment—and empowered/self-organizing Scrum teams—are vital for facilitating Scrum; that can only be achieved through active support of management and clear business vision.

Scrum Adoption Factors
• The common belief that the vast majority of organizations adopting and integrating Scrum come from a Waterfall-like background was supported by the survey. 24% use Scrum for some projects while using Waterfall for the rest. 13% use Scrum exclusively, while 31% indicate no use of Waterfall. 23% felt it was a difficult transition from a Waterfall-based method to Scrum. Another perception, stated by 25% of respondents, was that there were no clearly identified metrics to identify and measure the successful delivery of Scrum projects.

Scrum will continue to grow because it is poised for the “Age  of the Customer.”What lies at the  heart of Agile is the  obsessive focus on  service to the  customer—the  mainstay of almost  any business.

Scrum will continue to expand outside of software development. Another adoption of Agile
outside of software development  presents itself in the article “Agile  Reinvents Retail,” published by  John Hitchcock of  on September 2012. The story  describes how a California retail  outlet called Oddyssea used Agile development principles to deploy  its retail operations

Another recent and famous  example of Scrum outside  of software development is  embodied in a sports car called  Wikispeed. Built by Joe Justice, a software engineer by trade, and  a team who entered the 2008  X-Prize competition, Wikispeed  was deployed using Scrum and  crowdsourcing. The team was able  to place tenth in a crowded and  highly competitive environment.
This was done by getting a working  prototype in three months for a  car that can go from 0 to 60 mph  in less than five seconds, weighs  just 1,404 pounds, has a top speed  of 149 mph and gets more than  100 mpg—all using Agile practices  and techniques.

Scrum is well suited for complex problems, where routine cookie cutter solutions does not apply.  In complex domains the ability to probe, explore, sense,inspect, adapt,and respond is critical.


Welcome to Agile Pearls of Wisdom Blog

This Blog elucidates the pearls of wisdom in Agile Software Development methodology based on best practices, approaches, implementations, frameworks, checklists, cheat sheets, concepts, principles, guidelines, tools, methods, values, practices, philosophies, culture etc.

Agile software development 

Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen tight iterations throughout the development cycle.

Agile Development

Agile Development

The Agile Manifesto introduced the term in 2001. Since then, the Agile Movement, with all its values, principles, methods, practices, tools, champions and practitioners, philosophies and cultures, has significantly changed the landscape of the modern software engineering and commercial software development in the Internet era

Martin Fowler is widely recognized as one of the key founders of the agile methods.
Incremental software development methods have been traced back to 1957.In 1974, a paper by E. A. Edmonds introduced an adaptive software development process. Concurrently and independently the same methods were developed and deployed by the New York Telephone Company’s Systems Development Center under the direction of Dan Gielan. In the early 1970s, Tom Gilb started publishing the concepts of Evolutionary Project Management (EVO), which has evolved into Competitive Engineering. During the mid to late 1970s Gielan lectured extensively throughout the U.S. on this methodology, its practices, and its benefits.

So-called lightweight agile software development methods evolved in the mid-1990s as a reaction against the heavyweight waterfall-oriented methods, which were characterized by their critics as being heavily regulated, regimented, micromanaged and overly incremental approaches to development.

Proponents of lightweight agile methods contend that they are returning to development practices that were present early in the history of software development.

Agile Methodologies

Agile Methodologies

Early implementations of agile methods include Rational Unified Process (1994), Scrum (1995), Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming (1996), Adaptive Software Development, Feature Driven Development (1997), and Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) (1995). These are now collectively referred to as agile methodologies, after the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001.

On February 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, seventeen people met to talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground and of course, to eat. What emerged was the Agile Software Development Manifesto. Representatives from Extreme Programming, SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, Pragmatic Programming, and others sympathetic to the need for an alternative to documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes convened.

Now, a bigger gathering of organizational anarchists would be hard to find, so what emerged from this meeting was symbolic, a Manifesto for Agile Software Development signed by all participants. The only concern with the term agile came from Martin Fowler (a Brit for those who dont know him) who allowed that most Americans didnt know how to pronounce the word agile.

Alistair Cockburns initial concerns reflected the early thoughts of many participants. “I personally didn’t expect that this particular group of agilites to ever agree on anything substantive.”
But his post-meeting feelings were also shared, “Speaking for myself, I am delighted by the final phrasing [of the Manifesto]. I was surprised that the others appeared equally delighted by the final phrasing. So we did agree on something substantive.”

Naming themselves “The Agile Alliance,” this group of independent thinkers about software development, and sometimes competitors to each other, agreed on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development .

But while the Manifesto provides some specific ideas, there is a deeper theme that drives many, but not all, to be sure, members of the alliance. At the close of the two-day meeting, Bob Martin joked that he was about to make a “mushy” statement. But while tinged with humor, few disagreed with Bobs sentiments that they all felt privileged to work with a group of people who held a set of compatible values, a set of values based on trust and respect for each other and promoting organizational models based on people, collaboration, and building the types of organizational communities in which they would want to work.

At the core, Jim Highsmith believes

Agile Methodologists are really about “mushy” stuff about delivering good products to customers by operating in an environment that does more than talk about “people as our most important asset” but actually “acts” as if people were the most important, and lose the word “asset”. So in the final analysis, the meteoric rise of interest in and sometimes tremendous criticism of Agile Methodologies is about the mushy stuff of values and culture.

For example, Jim thinks that ultimately, Extreme Programming has mushroomed in use and interest, not because of pair-programming or refactoring, but because, taken as a whole, the practices define a developer community freed from the baggage of Dilbertesque corporations.

Kent Beck told the story of an early job in which he estimated a programming effort of six weeks for two people. After his manager reassigned the other programmer at the beginning of the project, he completed the project in twelve weeks and felt terrible about himself! The boss of course harangued Kent about how slow he was throughout the second six weeks. Kent, somewhat despondent because he was such a “failure” as a programmer, finally realized that his original estimate of 6 weeks was extremely accurate for 2 people and that his “failure” was really the managers failure , indeed, the failure of the standard “fixed” process mindset that so frequently plagues our industry.

According to JIm Highsmith,
This type of situation goes on every day marketing, or management, or external customers, internal customers, and, yes, even developers dont want to make hard trade-off decisions, so they impose       irrational demands through the imposition of corporate power       structures. This isnt merely a software development problem, it    runs throughout Dilbertesque organizations.
In order to succeed in the new economy, to move aggressively into  the era of e-business, e-commerce, and the web, companies have to  rid themselves of their Dilbert manifestations of make-work and    arcane policies. This freedom from the inanities of corporate life attracts proponents of Agile Methodologies, and scares the         begeebers  out of traditionalists. Quite frankly, the Agile        approaches scare corporate bureaucrats at least those that are     happy pushing  process for process sake versus trying to do the    best for the "customer" and deliver something timely and tangible  and "as   promised" because they run out of places to hide.
The Agile movement is not anti-methodology, in fact, many of them  want to restore credibility to the word methodology. They want to  restore a balance. They  embrace modeling, but not in order to file some diagram in a dusty corporate repository. They embrace        documentation, but not hundreds of pages of never-maintained and   rarely-used tomes. They plan, but recognize the limits of planning in a turbulent environment. Those who would brand proponents of XP or SCRUM or any of the other Agile Methodologies as "hackers" are  ignorant of both the methodologies and the original definition of  the term hacker.

The meeting at Snowbird was incubated at an earlier get together of Extreme Programming proponents, and a few “outsiders,” organized by Kent Beck at the Rogue River Lodge in Oregon in the spring of 2000. At the Rogue River meeting attendees voiced support for a variety of “Light” methodologies, but nothing formal occurred. During 2000 a number of articles were written that referenced the category of “Light” or “Lightweight” processes. A number of these articles referred to “Light methodologies, such as Extreme Programming, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, and SCRUM”. In conversations, no one really liked the moniker “Light”, but it seemed to stick for the time being.

In September 2000, Bob Martin from Object Mentor in Chicago, started the next meeting ball rolling with an email; “I’d like to convene a small (two day) conference in the January to February 2001 timeframe here in Chicago. The purpose of this conference is to get all the lightweight method leaders in one room. All of you are invited; and I’d be interested to know who else I should approach.” Bob set up a Wiki site and the discussions raged.

Early on, Alistair Cockburn weighed in with an epistle that identified the general disgruntlement with the word Light: “I don’t mind the methodology being called light in weight, but I’m not sure I want to be referred to as a lightweight attending a lightweight methodologists meeting. It somehow sounds like a bunch of skinny, feebleminded lightweight people trying to remember what day it is.”

The fiercest debate was over location! There was serious concern about Chicago in wintertime cold and nothing fun to do; Snowbird, Utah cold, but fun things to do, at least for those who ski on their heads like Martin Fowler tried on day one; and Anguilla in the Caribbean warm and fun, but time consuming to get to. In the end, Snowbird and skiing won out; however, a few people like Ron Jeffries want a warmer place next time.

The Agile Manifesto reads, in its entirety, as follows:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over Processes and tools
  • Working software over Comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over Following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

  • Kent Beck
  • James Grenning
  • Robert C. Martin
  • Mike Beedle
  • Jim Highsmith
  • Steve Mellor
  • Arie van Bennekum
  • Andrew Hunt
  • Ken Schwaber
  • Alistair Cockburn
  • Ron Jeffries
  • Jeff Sutherland
  • Ward Cunningham
  • Jon Kern
  • Dave Thomas
  • Martin Fowler
  • Brian Marick

In 2001, the above authors drafted the agile manifesto. This declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety through this notice.

The meaning of the manifesto items on the left within the agile software development context are:

Individuals and interactions – in agile development, self-organization and motivation are important, as are interactions like co-location and pair programming.
Working software – working software will be more useful and welcome than just presenting documents to clients in meetings.
Customer collaboration – requirements cannot be fully collected at the beginning of the software development cycle, therefore continuous customer or stakeholder involvement is very important.
Responding to change – agile development is focused on quick responses to change and continuous development.
Introducing the manifesto on behalf of the Agile Alliance, Jim Highsmith commented that the Agile movement was not opposed to methodology:

The Agile movement is not anti-methodology, in fact, many of us    want to restore credibility to the word methodology. We want to restore a balance. We embrace modeling, but not in order to file some diagram in a dusty corporate repository. We embrace documentation, but not hundreds of pages of never-maintained and rarely-used      information. We plan, but recognize the limits of planning in a    turbulent environment. Those who would brand proponents of XP or   SCRUM or any of the other Agile Methodologies as "hackers" are     ignorant of both the methodologies and the original definition of  the term hacker.
—Jim Highsmith, History: The Agile Manifesto

Agile principles
The Agile Manifesto is based on twelve principles:

  • Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  • Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  • Working software is the principal measure of progress
  • Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  • Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  • Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  • Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  • Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Later, Ken Schwaber with others founded the Scrum Alliance and created the Certified Scrum Master programs and its derivatives. Ken left the Scrum Alliance in the fall of 2009, and founded to further improve the quality and effectiveness of Scrum.

In 2005, a group headed by Alistair Cockburn and Jim Highsmith wrote an addendum of project management principles, the Declaration of Interdependence, to guide software project management according to agile development methods.

In 2009, a movement spearheaded by Robert C Martin wrote an extension of software development principles, the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto, to guide agile software development according to professional conduct and mastery.


The term XP predates the term Agile by several years. XP stands for Extreme Programming, and is a suite of practices, principles, and values invented by Kent Beck in the late ‘90s. Nowadays the principles and values are not as well known, but the practices survive. Those practices are:

The Planning Game

Development proceeds in very short iterations, typically 1-2 weeks in duration. Prior to each iteration features are broken down into very small stories. Stories are estimated by developers and then chosen by stakeholders based on their estimated cost and business value. The sum of story estimates planned for the current iteration cannot exceed the sum of estimates completed in the previous iteration.

Whole Team

The team consists of developers, business analysts, QA, project managers, etc. The team works together in a lab space or open area where collaboration and communication are maximized.

Acceptance Tests

Stories and features are defined by automated tests written by the business analysts, and QA. No story or feature can be said to be done until the suite of acceptance tests that define it are passing.

Small Releases

Systems are released to production, or pre-production very frequently. An interval of 2-3 months is the maximum. The minimum can be once per iteration.

Continuous Integration

The whole system is built and tested end-to-end several times each day. While new tests are made to pass, no previously passing tests are allowed to break. Developers must continuously keep the system in a deployable state.

Collective Ownership

Code, and other work artifacts, are not owned by individuals. Any member of the team may work on any artifact at any time.

Coding Standard

Code, and other work artifacts, look as if they were written by the team. Each team member follows the team standard for format and appearance of the artifacts.


Names within code and other work artifacts are chosen to be evocative of the system being created.

Sustainable Pace

Building software is a marathon, not a sprint. Team members must run at a rate they can sustain for the long haul. Overtime must be carefully controlled and limited. Tired people do not win.

Pair Programming

Code and other work artifacts are produced by pairs of individuals working together. One member of the pair is responsible for the task at hand, and the other helps out. Pairs change frequently (every two hours or so) but responsibility stays with the owner.

Pair programming, an agile development technique used by XP.

The affordability of pair programming is a key issue. If it is much more expensive, managers simply will not permit it. Skeptics assume that incorporating pair programming will double code development expenses and critical manpower needs. Along with code development costs, however, other expenses, such as quality assurance and field support costs must also be considered. IBM reported spending about $250 million repairing and reinstalling fixes to 30,000 customer-reported problems . That is over $8,000 for each defect!

In 1999, a controlled experiment run by the second author at the University of Utah investigated the economics of pair programming. Advanced undergraduates in a Software Engineering course participated in the experiment. One third of the class coded class projects as they had for years – by themselves.
The rest of the class completed their projects with a collaborative partner. After the initial adjustment period in the first program (the “jelling” assignment), together the pairs only spent about 15% more time on the program than the individuals . Development costs certainly do not double with pair programming!
Significantly, the resulting code has about 15% fewer defects . These results are statistically significant.The initial 15% increase in code development expense is recovered in the reduction in defects,

There are many specific agile development methods. Most promote development, teamwork, collaboration, and process adaptability throughout the life-cycle of the project.

Test Driven Development

Developers are not allowed to write production code until they have written a failing unit test. They may not write more of a unit test than is sufficient to fail. They may not write more production code than is sufficient to pass the failing test. The unit tests are maintained and executed as part of the build process. No previously passing unit test is allowed to fail.


Code, and other work artifacts, are continuously reviewed and kept as clean as possible. It is not sufficient that code works; it must also be clean.

Simple Design

The simplest design that suffices for the task at hand, is the right design. More complex and general designs may become useful later, but not now. We do not wish to carry the weight of that complexity while it is not needed. Sufficient for the day are the complexities therein.

Iterative, incremental and evolutionary

Agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning and do not directly involve long-term planning. Iterations are short time frames (timeboxes) that typically last from one to four weeks. Each iteration involves a cross-functional team working in all functions: planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing. At the end of the iteration a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders. This minimizes overall risk and allows the project to adapt to changes quickly. An iteration might not add enough functionality to warrant a market release, but the goal is to have an available release (with minimal bugs) at the end of each iteration. Multiple iterations might be required to release a product or new features.

Scrum Cycle

Scrum Cycle

Efficient and face-to-face communication

No matter what development disciplines are required, each agile team will contain a customer representative, e.g. Product Owner in Scrum. This person is appointed by stakeholders to act on their behalf and makes a personal commitment to being available for developers to answer mid-iteration questions. At the end of each iteration, stakeholders and the customer representative review progress and re-evaluate priorities with a view to optimizing the return on investment (ROI) and ensuring alignment with customer needs and company goals.

Information Radiators

In agile software development, an information radiator is a (normally large) physical display located prominently in an office, where passers-by can see it. It presents an up-to-date summary of the status of a software project or other product. The name was coined by Alistair Cockburn, and described in his 2002 book Agile Software Development.A build light indicator may be used to inform a team about the current status of their project.

Very short feedback loop and adaptation cycle

A common characteristic of agile development are daily status meetings or “stand-ups”, e.g. Daily Scrum (Meeting). In a brief session, team members report to each other what they did the previous day, what they intend to do today, and what their roadblocks are.

Quality focus

Specific tools and techniques, such as continuous integration, automated unit testing, pair programming, test-driven development, design patterns, domain-driven design, code refactoring and other techniques are often used to improve quality and enhance project agility.

Compared to traditional software engineering, agile development is mainly targeted at complex systems and projects with dynamic, undeterministic and non-linear characteristics, where accurate estimates, stable plans and predictions are often hard to get in early stages, and big up-front designs and arrangements will probably cause a lot of waste, i.e. not economically sound. These basic arguments and precious industry experiences learned from years of successes and failures have helped shape Agile’s favor of adaptive, iterative and evolutionary development.

Adaptive vs. Predictive
Development methods exist on a continuum from adaptive to predictive. Agile methods lie on the adaptive side of this continuum. One key of adaptive development methods is a “Rolling Wave” approach to schedule planning, which identifies milestones but leaves flexibility in the path to reach them, and also allows for the milestones themselves to change. Adaptive methods focus on adapting quickly to changing realities. When the needs of a project change, an adaptive team changes as well. An adaptive team will have difficulty describing exactly what will happen in the future. The further away a date is, the more vague an adaptive method will be about what will happen on that date. An adaptive team cannot report exactly what tasks they will do next week, but only which features they plan for next month. When asked about a release six months from now, an adaptive team might be able to report only the mission statement for the release, or a statement of expected value vs. cost.

Predictive methods, in contrast, focus on analysing and planning the future in detail and cater for known risks. In the extremes, a predictive team can report exactly what features and tasks are planned for the entire length of the development process. Predictive methods rely on effective early phase analysis and if this goes very wrong, the project may have difficulty changing direction. Predictive teams will often institute a Change Control Board to ensure that only the most valuable changes are considered.

Risk analysis can be used to choose between adaptive (agile or value-driven) and predictive (plan-driven) methods

Iterative vs. Waterfall
One of the differences between agile and waterfall is that testing of the software is conducted at different stages during the software development lifecycle. In the Waterfall model, there is always a separate testing phase near the completion of an implementation phase. However, in Agile and especially Extreme programming, testing is usually done concurrently with coding, or at least, testing jobs start in early iterations.

After almost a decade of mismanagement and waste at the FBI, its CIO turned the agency’s maligned case management implementation into an agile project. Two years later, the system is live. This relative success, as well as the example of other federal agencies, shows that agile can work in Washington.

Not only that, the U.S. Government is serious about Agile. Not only is agile part of Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel’s “Future First” initiative, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO)  had issued a report on the federal government’s use of agile.

GAO identified 32 practices and approaches as effective for applying Agile software development methods to IT projects. The practices generally align with five key software development project management activities: strategic planning, organizational commitment and collaboration, preparation, execution, and evaluation. Officials who have used Agile methods on federal projects generally agreed that these practices are effective. Specifically, each practice was used and found effective by officials from at least one agency, and ten practices were used and found effective by officials from all five agencies.

Code vs. Documentation
In a letter to IEEE Computer, Steven Rakitin expressed cynicism about agile development, calling an article supporting agile software development “yet another attempt to undermine the discipline of software engineering” and translating “Working software over comprehensive documentation” as “We want to spend all our time coding. Remember, real programmers don’t write documentation.”

This is disputed by proponents of Agile software development, who state that developers should write documentation if that’s the best way to achieve the relevant goals, but that there are often better ways to achieve those goals than writing static documentation. Scott Ambler states that documentation should be “Just Barely Good Enough” (JBGE), that too much or comprehensive documentation would usually cause waste, and developers rarely trust detailed documentation because it’s usually out of sync with codes, while too little documentation may also cause problems for maintenance, communication, learning and knowledge sharing. Alistair Cockburn wrote of the Crystal method:

Crystal considers development to be a series of co-operative games, and the provision of documentation is intended to be enough to    help the next win at the next game. The work products for Crystal  include use cases, risk list, iteration plan, core domain models,  and design notes to inform on choices...however there are no       templates for these documents and descriptions are necessarily     vague, but the objective is clear, just enough documentation for   the next game. I always tend to characterize this to my team as:   what would you want to know if you joined the team tomorrow.
—Alistair Cockburn

Agile methods
Well-known agile software development methods and/or process frameworks include:

  • Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
  • Agile Modeling
  • Agile Unified Process (AUP)
  • Crystal Methods (Crystal Clear)
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  • Lean software development
  • Scrum
  • Scrum-ban

Software development life-cycle support

The agile methods are focused on different aspects of the Software development life cycle. Some focus on the practices (e.g. XP, Pragmatic Programming, Agile Modeling), while others focus on managing the software projects (e.g. Scrum). Yet, there are approaches providing full coverage over the development life cycle (e.g. DSDM, IBM RUP), while most of them are suitable from the requirements specification phase on (FDD, for example). Thus, there is a clear difference between the various agile methods in this regard.

Agile practices
Agile development is supported by a bundle of concrete practices suggested by the agile methods, covering areas like requirements, design, modeling, coding, testing, project management, process, quality, etc. Some notable agile practices include:

  • Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD)
  • Agile Modeling
  • Backlogs (Product and Sprint)
  • Behavior-driven development (BDD)
  • Cross-functional team
  • Continuous integration (CI)
  • Domain-driven design (DDD)
  • Information radiators (Scrum board, Kanban board, Task board, Burndown chart)
  • Iterative and incremental development (IID)
  • Pair programming
  • Planning poker
  • Refactoring
  • Scrum meetings (Sprint planning, Daily scrum, Sprint review and retrospective)
  • Test-driven development (TDD)
  • Agile testing
  • Timeboxing
  • Use case
  • User story
  • Story-driven modeling
  • Velocity tracking

The Agile Alliance has provided a comprehensive online collection with a map guide to the applying agile practices.

This section explains how Primavera Systems, a vendor of project portfolio  management solutions, turned around its development organization in 2003. In  terms of value to the company, the development organization went from having low no confidence in its ability to deliver and repeated failure to meet expectations, to  being cheered for a release that was the hit of their user conference, with good  quality and twice the expected functionality. Bonuses were forthcoming for this  release. Magic? No, just leadership, hard work, and using a process that turned the  leadership and hard work into results. These are the Agile processes Primavera, a 21 year-old software company, sells project portfolio management  solutions to help firms manage all their projects, programs, and resources.  Primavera was thriving, and its growth was leading to increasingly complex client  needs; this put a strain on its ability to release a product that pleased its entire  customer base. Throughout 2002, the development organization worked overtime to  develop release 3.5. As with other projects in the past, the last three months were  particularly bad; the developers sacrificed weekends and home life to get the release  out with all of the new requirements. The result – a release seen by management as  incomplete and three weeks late, and an exhausted team with low morale.  Primavera decided to try the Agile development processes Scrum and XP to fix its  problems. Scrum is an overarching process for planning and managing development  projects, while XP prescribes individual team practices that help developers,  analysts, testers and managers perform at peak efficiency. Though they are often implemented separately, Scrum and XP are even more effective when implemented  together. Primavera adopted Scrum first to improve the way it managed product  development, then adopted XP practices to upgrade its product quality and then  customized the amalgam to suit its own needs.

The result of Primavera’s experiment is a highly satisfied customer base, and a  highly motivated, energetic development environment. Of equal value, everyone  within Primavera now has a process for working together to build the best releases  possible, and is aware of, and participates in, the tradeoff decisions involved. People  who haven’t had a chance to work together in years put their shoulders to making  each release a success, from CEO, CTO and VP’s to the entire development  organization. When the experiment started, Primavera was a very quiet, subdued  place to work. It now feels like a vibrant community.

“We pull in a lot of feedback from all of our customers and look for the similarities  across conversations with resource managers, functional managers, program  managers, and executives,” says Michael Shomberg, Primavera Vice President of  Marketing. “These methodologies are very empowering. Decisions are driven down to  where knowledge is applied. Decisions are better and communication back to the  customers is real and exciting. There are no over-promises or expectations that run  the risk of disappointment, because the customer sees on the screen what they had  in their head – or better. That’s the wow we want to experience, with our customers  and everyone in our company.”

Method tailoring
In the literature, different terms refer to the notion of method adaptation, including ‘method tailoring’, ‘method fragment adaptation’ and ‘situational method engineering’. Method tailoring is defined as:

A process or capability in which human agents determine a system development approach for a specific project situation through responsive changes in, and dynamic interplays between contexts, intentions, and method fragments.

Potentially, almost all agile methods are suitable for method tailoring. Even the DSDM method is being used for this purpose and has been successfully tailored in a CMM context. Situation-appropriateness can be considered as a distinguishing characteristic between agile methods and traditional software development methods, with the latter being relatively much more rigid and prescriptive. The practical implication is that agile methods allow project teams to adapt working practices according to the needs of individual projects. Practices are concrete activities and products that are part of a method framework. At a more extreme level, the philosophy behind the method, consisting of a number of principles, could be adapted (Aydin, 2004).

Extreme Programming (XP) makes the need for method adaptation explicit. One of the fundamental ideas of XP is that no one process fits every project, but rather that practices should be tailored to the needs of individual projects. Partial adoption of XP practices, as suggested by Beck, has been reported on several occasions.

Mehdi Mirakhorli proposes a tailoring practice that provides a sufficient road-map and guidelines for adapting all the practices. RDP (rule-description-practice) Practice is designed for customizing XP. This practice, first proposed as a long research paper in the APSO workshop at the ICSE 2008 conference, is currently the only proposed and applicable method for customizing XP. Although it is specifically a solution for XP, this practice has the capability of extending to other methodologies. At first glance, this practice seems to be in the category of static method adaptation but experiences with RDP Practice says that it can be treated like dynamic method adaptation. The distinction between static method adaptation and dynamic method adaptation is subtle.

Sabre Airline Solutions adopted XP in 2001. With its new model, Sabre does iterative development in small, simple steps. The company uses two-week iterations, and customers see a new release every one to three months. Features, called “stories,” are expressed in user terms and must be simple enough to be coded, tested and integrated in two weeks or less.
Automated unit tests (against the programmer’s criteria) and broader acceptance tests (against customer requirements) must be passed at the end of each iteration before the next can begin. Unit and acceptance tests for each feature are written before the feature is coded. If a developer has trouble writing a test, he doesn’t clearly understand the feature.
Actual coding is done in pairs by teams in open labs, promoting collective ownership of code, although individuals sometimes do the simplest tasks. Programmers are re-paired frequently, often every day or two. They sign up for the tasks they want to do and the person they want to pair with.
Every project team has an “XP coach” and an application subject-matter expert called the XP customer. The XP customer stays in or near the programming lab all or most of the time. He decides on and prioritizes product features, writes the stories for programmers and signs off on the results.
“Refactoring” code—rewriting it not to fix bugs or add features but to make it less redundant and more maintainable—is strongly encouraged. Sabre says the concept hardly existed at the company before XP because it was too difficult.

Comparison with other methods

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Agile methods have much in common with the Rapid Application Development techniques from the 1980/90s as espoused by James Martin and others. In addition to technology-focused methods, customer-and-design-centered methods, such as Visualization-Driven Rapid Prototyping developed by Brian Willison, work to engage customers and end users to facilitate agile software development.


In 2008 the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) published the technical report “CMMI or Agile: Why Not Embrace Both” to make clear that the Capability Maturity Model Integration and Agile can co-exist. Modern CMMI-compatible development processes are also iterative. The CMMI Version 1.3 includes tips for implementing Agile and CMMI process improvement together.

Measuring agility
While agility can be seen as a means to an end, a number of approaches have been proposed to quantify agility. Agility Index Measurements (AIM) score projects against a number of agility factors to achieve a total. The similarly named Agility Measurement Index, scores developments against five dimensions of a software project (duration, risk, novelty, effort, and interaction). Other techniques are based on measurable goals. Another study using fuzzy mathematics has suggested that project velocity can be used as a metric of agility. There are agile self-assessments to determine whether a team is using agile practices (Nokia test, Karlskrona test, 42 points test).

While such approaches have been proposed to measure agility, the practical application of such metrics is still debated. There is agile software development ROI data available from the CSIAC ROI Dashboard.

Experience and adoption

One of the early studies reporting gains in quality, productivity, and business satisfaction by using Agile methods was a survey conducted by Shine Technologies from November 2002 to January 2003. A similar survey conducted in 2006 by Scott Ambler, the Practice Leader for Agile Development with IBM Rational’s Methods Group reported similar benefits. Others claim that agile development methods are still too young to require extensive academic proof of their success.

Large-scale and distributed Agile
Large-scale agile software development remains an active research area. Agile development has been widely seen as being more suitable for certain types of environment, including small teams of experts. 157 Positive reception towards Agile methods has been observed in Embedded domain across Europe in recent years

Some things that may negatively impact the success of an agile project are:

  • Large-scale development efforts (>20 developers), though scaling strategies and evidence of some large projects have been described.
  • Distributed development efforts (non-colocated teams). Strategies have been described in Bridging the Distance and Using an Agile Software Process with Offshore Development.
  • Forcing an agile process on a development team.
  • Mission-critical systems where failure is not an option at any cost (e.g. software for avionics).
  • The early successes, challenges and limitations encountered in the adoption of agile methods in a large organization have been documented.

Agile offshore
In terms of outsourcing agile development, Michael Hackett, senior vice president of LogiGear Corporation has stated that “the offshore team … should have expertise, experience, good communication skills, inter-cultural understanding, trust and understanding between members and groups and with each other.

Agile methodologies can be inefficient in large organizations and certain types of projects. Agile methods seem best for developmental and non-sequential projects. Many organizations believe that agile methodologies are too extreme and adopt a hybrid approach that mixes elements of agile and plan-driven approaches.

The term “agile” has also been criticized as being a management fad that simply describes existing good practices under new jargon, promotes a “one size fits all” mindset towards development strategies, and wrongly emphasizes method over results.

Alistair Cockburn organized a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Agile Manifesto in Snowbird, Utah on February 12, 2011, gathering some 30+ people who’d been involved at the original meeting and since. A list of about 20 elephants in the room (“undiscussable” agile topics/issues) were collected, including aspects: the alliances, failures and limitations of agile practices and context (possible causes: commercial interests, decontextualization, no obvious way to make progress based on failure, limited objective evidence, cognitive biases and reasoning fallacies), politics and culture.

 As Philippe Kruchten wrote in the end:
The agile movement is in some ways a bit like a teenager: very     self-conscious, checking constantly its appearance in a mirror,    accepting few criticisms, only interested in being with its peers, rejecting en bloc all wisdom from the past, just because it is fromthe past, adopting fads and new jargon, at times cocky and arrogant. But I have no doubts that it will mature further, become more    open to the outside world, more reflective, and also therefore moreeffective.

Applications Outside of Software Development
Agile methods have been extensively used for development of software products and some of them use certain characteristics of software, such as object technologies.[54] However, these techniques can be applied to the development of non-software products, such as computers, motor vehicles, medical devices, food, and clothing; see Flexible product development.

Agile development paradigms can be used in other areas of life such as raising children. Its success in child development might be founded on some basic management principles; communication, adaptation and awareness. Bruce Feiler has shown that the basic Agile Development paradigms can be applied to household management and raising children. In his TED Talk, “Agile programming — for your family”, these paradigms brought significant changes to his household environment, such as the kids doing dishes, taking out the trash, and decreasing his children’s emotional outbreaks which inadvertently increased their emotional stability. In some ways, agile development is more than a bunch of software development rules; but it can be something more simple and broad, like a problem solving guide.