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Scrum success within the large organization

11.10.2008
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Agile development practices are continuing to gain increasing attention within organizations looking to improve software quality; however, there are still unique challenges associated with bringing Agile practices into larger organizations. In response to this, SolutionsIQ, a training, consulting and development services company today unveiled a new offering that combines executive coaching, on-site technical mentoring and outsourced software development services to increase Agile competencies at the individual, team and organizational level.

"The biggest challenge facing large organizations with regards to Agile adoption is the need for a more cross-functional approach to change management," said Eric Burke, VP of marketing at SolutionsIQ. While some of the 'high-flying' teams within these large organizations can achieve success, many of them don't usually follow the rules that the PMO has set up.

Burke contrasted this with his company's experience working with much smaller organizations, where the VP of Development typically had broader visibility across different functional groups such as the QA team, the DB team, developers and product managers. In many of these cases, SolutionsIQ consultants were able to facilitate the rapid transition to cross-functional teams using a Scrum-based organization structure.

The Role of the Scrum Master

The Scrum master plays a very direct, hands-on role to help the team members transition from a traditional, waterfall approach to using a Sprint-based approach, according to Burke. The Scrum master helps development teams to priortize items on the backlog, estimate the size of user stories, and to devlop a bit of an overarching philosophy.

"Sprints are typically 2-4 weeks. After the first three sprints we start to see the beginnings of a measurable philosopy," said Burke.

Moreover, Burke emphasized three core qualities that every Scrum-master should possess:

  • Good soft skills -- This essentially needs to be in the 'DNA' of every Scrum-master. He must be a good team lead, a natural organizational leader with strong facilitation skills
  • Hands-on experience with actual software development -- this lends credibility to their role
  • Formal Scrum training, certifcation

While agile tool selection varies from project to project, Burke described a mash-up platform of tools that his company uses on a regular basis to facilitate effetive test-driven development and acceptance testing, using tools such as Selenium and FitNesse.

"The new SolutionsIQ program provides Scrum process coaches and agile coaches, provding very direct mentoring at the development level to large organizations that often have very complex reporting structures and whole structures based on the waterfall approach," said Burke.

To learn more about the new solutionsIQ offering, visit:

http://www.solutionsiq.com/index.php

Are you currently using Scrum within your organization? What have been the challenges/benefits of using this approach?

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Nitin Bharti.

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