How to Deliver High Value Software Features in a Short Time Period using Agile Scrum Process

What is the agile scrum (Sprint) process?

Before getting into the details of this topic, it is important to us that we understand the basic meaning of ‘Agile’, ‘Agile Development Process’, ‘Scrum’ and ‘Sprint’.

The meaning of the word Agile is ‘able to move quickly and easily’. This same applies when it comes to software development. Agile is a method of project management (mainly software development) that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.

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There is Agile manifesto which tells what approaches do and don’t work for software development. Any development process which follows the concepts Agile manifesto is referred as Agile development. Scrum is nothing but one such process only. It is a light weight process framework for Agile development.

So, Scrum is a software development process based on Agile methodology. We can say that it is a subset of Agile.

In today’s rapid world, stakeholders want an immediate return on their investments. They don’t want to wait for long periods to get the full featured product. As a result, nowadays new software development and testing framework are catching momentum i.e. Scrum approach. In the scrum, projects are divided into small tasks that are to be developed and tested in specific time-frames called as a sprint (small cycles).

Literally, the word sprint means ‘run at full speed over a short distance’. And, the same concept is applied here. In the sprint, we aim for rapid completion and review of specific planned tasks while maintaining the high quality at the same time. This agile scrum team is handled by scrum master.

sprint

Scrum is an iterative, incremental framework for projects and products or application development. Scrum has become more and more popular software development and testing framework among organizations. Many small to large sized IT companies have embraced Scrum framework as this creates excellent quality products in less time than other traditional methodologies like waterfall processes.

This framework can save both companies’ time and money. It significantly increases the productivity and reduces time to benefits relative as compared to other processes of software development. It also allows the organizations to cope up better with the change.

agile scrum sprint process

Source: ScrumAlliance 

Having had the basic idea of Agile Scrum(Sprint) process now, let us move towards having a look at the soft skills that can help you in delivering high-value software features in a short time period.

Soft Skills for a Scrum Team:

What Soft Skills are required to be a Successful Scrum Team?

When we start our regular (Agile) sprints (Cycles of work), we usually find some of the challenges with our team members. These challenges are not part of technical difficulties. It usually occurs with team member’s mindset or their soft skills.  Many successful Scrum projects taught us that the success of scrum depends on how team members support whole heartedly towards the Sprint.

Let us discuss some of the pre-requisite soft skills for a Scrum Team.

Team Spirit

team-management1

Cross functional Team work is at the heart of Scrum.  There is no “my work”, “I have finished my work” and “your work”. In a Scrum team, we find people saying things like only “Our work”, “we have completed our Sprint”.

Individuals will have helping tendency for sharing technical knowledge. Scrum Members are always available to team members rather than locked away behind closed doors.  Scrum Master will always motivate the teams and create a Supporting learning environment.

The team will always be sprint-oriented and often discuss smooth run of the sprint. A scrum team’s job is to self-organize around the challenges and management’s job is to remove impediments to self-organization.

Communication

communication-in-agile-software-development3

Good communication must exist among team members of the development team, testing team, business analysts and stake holders. There must be a highly collaborative interaction between client and the delivery teams. More client involvement implies more suggestions or changes from the client.  It implies more bandwidth for communication.

Commitment

Commitment is one of the core scrum values.

scrum-values

Agile Teams needs periodic re-energizing to renew their commitments to their purpose and to each other.  Scrum Masters can help by ensuring that the team embraces the concept of whole-team responsibility and whole-team commitment to deliver working software at the end of each sprint. With the whole-team commitment, the team member who has completed his tasks will help the one who has not yet completed so that hopefully each team finishes the assigned tasks on time.

Problem Solving

Scrum does not simply focus on developing just any type of end product.  Instead, the Scrum method allows the team to focus on creating a product that fulfills the customer’s highest value priorities which are defined by product owners.

Transparency

Transparency or openness among team members and management gives a real momentum to the scrum team. Scrum Master encourages people to ask for help, surface roadblocks, and give recognition to those who help others and solve problems. At the same time, Scrum Master also understands the time wasted and impact on the team when individuals sit ideally or ignore problems.

Transparency

Scrum Result

If scrum team follows the above said soft skills, team velocity will increase significantly.  In turn, customers will appreciate the results or updates – and also can react quickly to any potential problems. The team can deliver high-value software features in a short time period and the team can contribute towards changing business conditions.

Useful Reads

About Author: J.B.Rajkumar is a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and he has rich experience in Agile/Scrum framework. He has worked as Corporate Trainer, Project Lead, QA Manager and QC Manager. He has implemented Scrum in no. of projects in his current organization. He is a frequent speaker on Agile/Scrum for International Conferences, Colleges, Universities and Software Industries. He conducts training on Scrum and Agile Testing.  Presently he is with Automation Practice, in one of the top MNCs.

If you have queries about agile/scrum/sprint software development and the testing process then please ask in comments below.

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84 thoughts on “How to Deliver High Value Software Features in a Short Time Period using Agile Scrum Process”

  1. Very informative article, i like it a lot.
    I am a Business Analyst previously a Black Box Tester.
    Black Box Testers have not so much technical knowledge that they can help devs. So what should be the approach of a black box tester in a Scrum Team?
    Help other testers to finish off the Sprint within time.

  2. Agile Scrum processes are very effective methods for delivering quality features quickly if managed effectively.

    My story of sprint development:

    Initially we were following traditional waterfall methods to develop a complete feature rich product in one shot. Deadline for this was 1 year. But when 6 months passed we realized we are lagging behind schedule. But it was too late to recover and we hit badly by stakeholders.

    Then we revisited the project plan, discussed it with stakeholders and came to the conclusion of Sprint development.

    Now we are successfully delivering the product features within short duration of time of 2-3 weeks. This is adding huge benefit to stakeholders and they are happy with current work now.

    Thanks to agile scrum and sprint!

  3. Scrum Team consists of 5 to 9 members. (Eg.) In a 7 member team, there may be 4 developers 2 testers and 1 Scrum Master(cross-functional). In the team, there is no hierarchy like Manager/Senior/Junior. Everybody belongs to Scrum Team and everybody works towards the goal. If a dev guy is good in automated testing scripts, he will help in testing area and if a testing guy is good in developing UI part, he will support for that. There is no sepeate testing phase as in waterfall. One Sprint consists of Designing, Developing,testing, implementing and releasing of highly prioritized features.

  4. I am a test engineer. Very recently our team moved into Scrum process. In the scrum team I am purely doing QA related work only. I want to know what kind of QA related documents we need to maintain in a sprint.

  5. @ Vishal

    1. It saves time and cost
    2. More Team collaboration
    3. Better quality product
    4. Ultimately Customer will be more happy for early working product.
    5. Defects will be visible in the early stage

  6. Hi,

    Nice article :). However, my tiny brain is looking for more logic behind this method.

    I agree with the fact that if a bunch of members that include the testing and the development arena work together, a transparency builds up and it is really helpful to sort out matters.

    If I take an example where my project deals with a website (to be built from scratch), how do you think the scrum approach can be applied?

    If there are say ‘N’ modules and you intend to develop and test each module separately, I believe that the integration process may encounter more issues than ever.

    In short, my question would be “Is this approach better to be used for smaller projects or can this be used for any kind of project or is this approach better to be used only when we have less time in hand and a bigger thing to be delivered?” I may have gone wrong in understanding the details in depth but any information on this would be highly appreciable :)…

    Thanks in advance..

    Thanks in advance :)…

  7. @Sumeet

    1. Scrum can be applied to any size of software/product. There are lot of success stories while implementing scrum in large projects than small projects.

    2. Integration need not be happened only at the end. If A and B need to integrated before C started, it can be done. Its only team’s (consensus) decision when can it be done.

    3. “less time in hand and a bigger thing to be delivered” … Scrum team should not bring the project into this situation.

  8. This article is good to get acquianted to Agile methodology. But i landed into certain confusion.
    How is agile methodology different from Spiral and other incremental models ?
    Please clarify.

  9. @Rajkumar – Very nice article. It was useful in understanding the agile process. However, I have one clarification. If the application is already in use by the customers and when we do enhancements to the application requested by the customers, how can we implement Scrum model?

  10. What are the testing methodology and documents used in scrum model?

    Is it necessary for me (black box tester) to undergo any training program to work in an organization which has adopted this method?

  11. @Puspanjali – Scrum team can decide what are all the testing documents needed for the project. There is no specific rules that these many documents should be followed.

    @Sushitha – Still you can adapt Scrum provided the product owner agress for that.

  12. @Rajkumar – Thanks, Very nice article. It was useful in understanding the agile process. We have a product which is already in use by the customers and when we do enhancements to the application requested by the customers, how can we implement Scrum model? & what kind of QA related documents we need to maintain in a sprint.

  13. Recently we decided to go for small but rapid releases (something close to scrum) but I feel that in such techniques Regression Testing consumes more time because it needs to be repeated with each build. How to tackle it?

  14. Master scrum can have multiple sprints in Agile (Scrum) methodology. One has its start and end date. What is standard naming convention for each sprint? Thanks in advance.

    If any one of you can paste any example, it will be highly appreciable.

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  16. Rajkumar Nice Article. Thanks.
    We have some clarification on the same. Can u pls clarify?
    This describes only about the overall process, it arises some questions like what type of approch will have for testing team in the scrum process. What testing framework we have adopt during this process and how to overcome the risks that affected during the process when it is compared with the normal testing process.

    Thanks in Advance…

  17. @Puspanjali – Scrum team can decide what are all the testing documents needed for the project. There is no specific rules that these many documents should be followed. @Sushitha – Still you can adapt Scrum provided the product owner agress for that.

  18. Hi
    This is really innovative information for me and other aspirant .I would like to give my sincere thanks for a lot information about Agile Testing,scrum and sprint. I would like to know practical info rather than theoretical about Agile.
    Thanks,

  19. Hi,
    Can you please tell what type of estimation techninque used for aglie testing? What are the test deliveriable are provided at the end of testing for agile testing

  20. Hey Guys,

    Could you please give me the list of roles and responsibilities of Test Lead in Agile dev process?
    What are the documents a team lead need to prepare for Agile based testing

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