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Bas Verhelst

Bas Verhelst

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Seven years in SCRUM

It has been a little over seven years now, that I attended a seminar where SCRUM was presented. This was what I could use for the software department I had just taken over. The project managers had constant headaches to get their projects ready and each team member appeared to run an individual project of their own liking.

I started reading this downloadable book by Henrik Kniberg, which  I recently read for the second time. I can highly recommend reading it. If you cannot spare the time, I hope you have 15 minutes to watch this movie.

We introduced SCRUM in an agile way, starting off with one team, being assisted by an experienced agile coach. After overcoming the initial hurdles, we converted the other teams a couple of months later. We haven’t stopped using SCRUM ever since.

Was it a success story? There is good and bad news.

We lost one guy, who could not live with showing his progress and further plans in a daily standup. The others were pleased to show their intermediate results and getting support from others when needed. We did not succeed to precisely predict when project results were available, but the progress was much more visible and transparent than before. We learned that having clear requirements was important for a good effort estimate. But estimating effort by itself costs effort, too, so it should not be overdone. We also learned that giving too much autonomy to the team leaves them unsure where to go. They asked for focus and priorities: typically the role of the product owner. And they got one!

With those who say SCRUM is just an MBA buzzword, I don’t agree. I think it gives the right balance between control and flexibility. It also defines how responsibilities should lie in organisations. And it boosts motivation.

In my opinion, SCRUM is here to stay. And Henrik Kniberg is my hero!

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