Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum, A

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Elizabeth Woodward is a Senior Software Consultant with IBM Quality Software Engineering under the Corporate Headquarters Office of Innovation and Technology. She has served as the project manager or development leader on more than 100 globally distributed projects for IBM and other development companies. Elizabeth coaches distributed software development teams to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their development practices. She has co-chaired the IBM Academy of Technology Conference on Agile Methods, teaches courses on Disciplined Agile Development, and co-leads the IBM Agile Community.


Steffan Surdek is a User Experience Lead and Agile Champion in IBM. He has worked in the software development industry for over fifteen years as a software developer, architect, project manager, and team leader. Steffan has managed and coordinated large-scale projects with teams distributed in as many as five countries--India, Egypt, Israel, China, and Canada. He coaches distributed agile teams, is a co-leader of the IBM Agile Community, and teaches Disciplined Agile Development workshops. He is an active member of the Montreal Agile Community and has written on agile methods and globally distributed development for developerWorks and Dr. Dobbs Journal. In his spare time, he does some writing on his website at


Matthew Ganis is an IBM Senior Technical Staff Member and site architect. Matt was was co-founder of the Agile@IBM Community and was an early adopter of agile within IBM. He currently teaches Disciplined Agile Development and has published numerous articles and papers on the use of agile methods within within its traditional web development and the development/support of their Second Life Island. Matt has been the co-chair and chair of the Academy of Technology's Agile Conferences for the past two years and is a Certified Scrum- Master and Practitioner. Outside of IBM, Matt serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Agile and Extreme Software Development and is a steering committee member of New York City's Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) chapter.



Succeed with Scrum in Even the Largest, Most Complex Distributed Development Projects

Forewords by Ken Schwaber, Scott Ambler, Roman Pichler, and Matthew Wang

This is the first comprehensive, practical guide for Scrum practitioners working in large-scale distributed environments. Written by three of IBM's leading Scrum practitioners--in close collaboration with the IBM QSE Scrum Community of more than 1000 members worldwide--this book offers specific, actionable guidance for everyone who wants to succeed with Scrum in the enterprise.

Readers will follow a journey through the lifecycle of a distributed Scrum project, from envisioning products and setting up teams to preparing for Sprint planning and running retrospectives. Each chapter presents a baseline drawn from "conventional" Scrum, then discusses additional issues faced by distributed teams, and presents specific best-practice solutions, alternatives, and tips the authors have identified through hard, empirical experience.

Using real-world examples, the book demonstrates how to apply key Scrum practices, such as look-ahead planning in geographically distributed environments. Readers will also gain valuable new insights into the agile management of complex problem and technical domains.

Coverage includes

. Developing user stories and working with Product Owners as a distributed team

. Recognizing and fixing the flaws Scrum may reveal in existing processes

. Engaging in more efficient Release and Sprint planning

. Conducting intense, brief daily Scrum meetings in distributed environments

. Managing cultural and language differences

. Resolving dependencies, performing frequent integration, and maintaining transparency in geographically distributed environments

. Successfully running remote software reviews and demos

. Brainstorming what worked and what didn't, to improve future Sprints

This book will be an indispensable resource for every team leader, member, product owner, or manager working with Scrum or other agile methods in any distributed software development organization.


Foreword by Ken Schwaber     xvii

Foreword by Scott Ambler     xix

Foreword by Roman Pichler     xxiii

Foreword by Matthew Wang     xxv

Preface     xxvii


Chapter 1  The Evolution of Scrum     1

Core Principles of Scrum     2

    An Agile Project Management Framework     2

    Scrum Roles     2

    Scrum Artifacts     3

    The Sprint     4

The Shift to Distributed Development Teams    5

    Globally Distributed Teams to Reduce Costs     6

    Reaching Market More Quickly with the “Follow the Sun” Model     6

    Distributed Teams Expand Access to New Markets     6

    Acquisitions     7

    Expanding for Innovation and Thought Leadership    7

    Telecommuting     7

    Improvements in Distributed Collaboration Tools     7

Types of Distributed Teams That Have Emerged     8

    Collocated     8

    Collocated Part-Time     9

    Distributed with Overlapping Work Hours     10

    Distributed with No Overlapping Work Hours     11

Ways of Handling Distributed Teams     12

    Isolated Scrums     12

    Distributed Scrum of Scrums     12

    Totally Integrated Scrums     13

IBM's Experience in Distributed Scrum     14

History of Agile in IBM     15

Summary     17


Chapter 2  Challenges Faced by Distributed Teams     19

Communicating with Distributed Team Members     20

Time Zones and Working Hours     20

Cultural Differences     21

Language Differences     23

    Keeping Language Simple     23

    Giving Everyone a Chance to Speak     24

    Using Group Chat During Meetings     24

    Providing a Translator     25

    Confirming What Team Members Understand     25

Tools     26

File Sharing     26

Software Engineering Practices     27

Schedule Differences     27

Team Dynamics     28

Telephone Dynamics     29

    Providing Access to the Call     29

    Working with Telephones in a Meeting Room     30

    Identifying the Speaker     31

    Handling Visual Cues     31

    Encouraging Participation     32

    Limiting Side Conversations     33

    Muting the Lines     33

    Checking for Agreement and Disagreement     34

    Identifying an Advocate to Represent Remote Team Members     34

    When Nothing Else Works, Everyone Dials In     34

Reminders     34

Impact of Communication Problems     35

How Does Scrum Help?     36

Summary     37


Chapter 3  Starting a Scrum Project     39

How to Identify the Problems Your Product Will Solve     40

    Who Are Your Stakeholders?     40

    What Problems Will the Project Address?     42

    What Are Your Solutions to the Problems?     46

    What Is the Return on Investment?     47

Define the Vision     49

Create the Product Roadmap     50

Organize the Scrum Teams     50

Create and Prioritize the Backlog      51

    Estimating the Stories as a Team     52

    Prioritizing the Backlog     52

    Single Backlog for Multiple Scrum Teams     53

    Single Backlog with Sections for Multiple Teams     53

    Separate Backlogs for Multiple Scrum Teams     54

    Single Backlog Populated by Multiple Other Teams     56

Create the Release Plan     56

    What Is the Sprint Length?     58

    What Is the Estimated Team Velocity?     59

    What Are the Dependencies?     61

    What Are the Risks?     63

Coordinate Multiple Product Owners     63

Use Agile Project Management Tools     64

Invest in Smarter Development     65

Coordinating Agile and Non-Agile Teams     66

Reporting on Release Status     66

Ongoing Updates to Release Plan and Vision     66

Important Note about Meeting Face-to-Face     66

Summary     67


Chapter 4  Preparing for Sprint Planning     69

Sprint Preplanning Activities     70

    Clarification of the User Stories     71

    Breaking Down User Stories     72

    Estimating User Stories     72

    Dealing with Dependencies     75

    Cleanup of the Product Backlog     78

Approaches for the Sprint Preplanning Meeting     78

    The Full-Team Approach     80

    The Preplanning Team Approach     81

    The Balanced Team Approach     82

    Considerations for Distributed Teams     82

Summary     83


Chapter 5  Sprint Planning     85

Adequately Preparing for the Sprint Planning Meeting     87

Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics     87

    Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics for Scaled Teams     87

    Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics for Distributed Teams     88

The First Half of Sprint Planning: Deciding What to Do     88

    Reviewing Product Vision and Sprint Goal     89

    Reviewing the Product Backlog     89

    Engaging Stakeholders     91

The Second Half of Sprint Planning: Deciding How to Get the Work Done     91

    Creating the Sprint Backlog     92

    Gaining Commitment     94

    Updating the Release Plan     94

Summary     94


Chapter 6  Distributed Daily Scrum Meetings     97

Using the Three Questions Effectively     98

    Answering the Three Questions     99

    Coordinating the Team on a Daily Basis     99

    Committing to the Team     100

    Verifying Progress     100

    Resolving Blockers     101

Daily Scrum Logistics     102

Ways of Communicating During the Daily Scrum     102

    Face-to-Face Meeting     102

    Teleconference Meeting     103

    Videoconference Meeting     104

    Group Instant Messaging Approach     105

Approaches to Handling Time Zone Issues     106

    Daily Scrums Through Documentation     107

    The Liaison Approach     108

    Alternating Meeting Times     110

    Sharing the Pain     112

Tips for Distributed Daily Scrums     114

    Removing Side Conversations     114

    Keeping the Team Engaged     114

    Facilitating the Meeting     115

    Taking Daily Scrum Notes     116

    Dealing with Language Barriers     117

Tools to Help with Distributed Daily Scrum     117

Scrum of Scrums     118

Summary     118


Chapter 7  Effective Collaboration During a Sprint     121

Communicating During the Sprint     122

    Documentation to Overcome Distance     123

    Using the Right Tools     123

    Valuing the Whole Team     124

    Transparency     124

Handling New Requests in the Middle of a Sprint     125

    Single Point of Entry     125

    Value of the Well-Groomed Backlog     126

    Shortening the Sprint     127

    Dealing with Defects     127

    Disruptions at the Team Member Level     128

Handling Stories the Team Cannot Complete During the Sprint     128

Handling Blockers During the Sprint     129

Responding to Questions During the Sprint     130

Sustainable Pace     131

    Sharing Time Zone Challenges     132

    Avoiding Double Workdays     132

Continuous Integration     133

    Reports Any Build Failures to the Team     133

    Reduces the Risk of Integrating Code     133

    Establishes Greater Confidence in the Product     135

    Reduces the Time to Find Integration Issues     135

    Improves the Efficiency of the Team     136

    Builds Can Run at Different Frequencies     136

Test Automation     137

    Dedicated Automation Teams     137

    Identify High-Value Automated Tests     138

    Automate What Is Stable     138

    Automated Tests Can Run at Any Time     139

    Automation Helps Improve Software Quality     139

Test-Driven Development     139

    Provides Documentation and Working Examples of Code     140

    Helps Reduce the Time to Fix Defects     140

    Helps Improve Code Quality and Provides a Safety Net for Changes     141

    Helps Team Members Work Together and Collaborate     141

    Helps Teams Move Away from Big Upfront Designs     142

    Unit Tests and Continuous Integration     142

Handling Infrastructure Projects     143

Summary     144


Chapter 8  End of Sprint Reviews     147

Who Participates in the Reviews     148

    Enterprise Stakeholders     148

    Who Should Present     149

Preparing Stakeholders     150

Reviewing the Strategic Vision of the Product     151

Approaches to Help Focus the Review     151

    Using Themes and a Script     152

    Having the Product Owner Introduce Each Presentation     152

Scheduling for Teams with Overlapping Work Hours     153

Scheduling for Teams with No Overlapping Work Hours     154

    Alternating Meeting Times     154

    Multiple Sprint Review Meetings     155

    Sharing the Pain     156

    Feeling the Pain     156

    Recording the Entire Sprint Review Meeting     157

Challenges Teams Face     157

    Not Keeping Track of the Stakeholder Comments     157

    Demos May Provide a False Sense of Completion     158

    The Team Has Nothing to Present     158

Added Challenges of Distributed Teams     159

    Neglecting to Demo the Work of Part of the Team     159

    Coordinate with Teams on Different Sprint Lengths     160

Remote Demonstrations      160

    Network Delays and Poor Performance     160

    Services May Vary by Location     161

    Demos Outside of Office Hours     161

Summary     162


Chapter 9  Retrospectives     163

Sprint Retrospectives     163

What Should Come Out of a Retrospective?     165

Retrospective Timing     166

    Hold Joint Retrospective as Needed     166

    Hold Regular Joint Retrospectives     166

    Joint Retrospectives for Teams on Different Sprint Lengths     167

    Retrospectives for Teams in the Same Product Family     167

    Conducting Retrospectives After Reviews     167

    Larger Retrospectives     168

Building Trust     168

    Effects of Distance     169

Preparing for the Retrospective     169

    Setting Expectations     169

    Understanding the Team Members' Personalities     170

    Respecting Cultural Differences     171

    Offering Anonymity     171

Asking for Comments Before the Retrospective Meeting     171

    What Went Well and What Can We Improve?     171

    Providing Questions to Focus the Discussion     172

    Consolidating Comments Is Extra Work     172

Conducting the Retrospective     173

    Discussing Reported Issues     173

    Giving Everyone a Chance to Engage     174

    Using Common Terminology     175

    State the Obvious     175

    Keep the Conversation on Track     175

    Managing Time Effectively     175

    Release Retrospectives     176

Summary     177


Chapter 10  Closing Thoughts     179


Index     181


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Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum, A
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