10 Expert Tips in Agile Scrum

Aditi Agarwal
Sep 27, 2018 · 4 min read

What Is Agile?

Agile is an umbrella term for several incremental and iterative development methodologies that enable continuous improvement. The Agile Manifesto was originally written only for software development efforts. Today, Agile is spreading to different types of organizations.

Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and Feature-Driven Development (FDD) are some of the popular Agile methodologies.

Let’s take a closer look at some expert agile tips and quotes:

Agile Tip # 1: Discipline is the key ingredient in achieving extraordinary results. It brings stability and structure to one’s work or personal life.

It takes discipline to attend scrum ceremonies, estimate user stories, meet sprint commitments, publish scrum charts, and continually learn.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. — Jim Rohn

Agile Tip # 2: In Scrum, the entire development team is responsible to ensure that sprint commitments are met.

A team member who has completed his assigned tasks should look to assist other team members who need help. This way, the team practices empathy towards others, learns new skills, and meets their commitments.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller

Agile Tip # 3: A product backlog is a prioritized list of desired features in a product. A well-refined product backlog ensures that the team is always working on the most valuable features.

Product backlogs tend to take on the shape of a pyramid with high priority, small, and detailed items residing at the top. As we look further down the product backlog pyramid, items on the product backlog become larger and less detailed.

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. — Stephen Covey

Agile Tip # 4: Scrum is both iterative and incremental. It is iterative since the team plans for the work of one iteration to be improved upon in subsequent iterations. It is incremental because the team delivers potentially shippable components at the end of each sprint.

It doesn’t matter how good you are today; if you’re not better next month, you’re no longer agile. — Mike Cohn

Agile Tip # 5: Story points are a relative unit of measure for estimating user stories. A team’s story point estimate should include: 1) the amount of work 2) the complexity of the work 3) any risks or unknowns in doing the work 4) must-have items on your definition of done.

Because the estimate for each feature is made relative to the estimates for other features, it does not matter if our estimates are correct, a little incorrect, or a lot incorrect. What matters is that they are consistent. — Mike Cohn

Agile Tip # 6: Minimize your technical debt with test automation. Test automation allows your team to execute more tests in less time. The test scripts can be automated once and the automated test suite can be reused each time a change is introduced in the system.

Test automation accelerates regression testing, cross-browser testing, cross-device testing, and more. It also supports continuous integration efforts.

Though it takes time to automate test scripts to start with, the benefits of having automated test suite outweigh the initial time and effort needed.

Scrum without automation is like driving a sports car on a dirt track — you won’t experience the full potential, you will get frustrated, and you will probably end up blaming the car. — IIan Goldstein

Agile Tip # 7: Know your product roadmap. A product roadmap describes how the product is likely to grow, which goals will be met, what features will be prioritized, and which metrics will determine if the goals are met.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. — Peter Drucker

Agile Tip # 8: Agile teams produce a continuous stream of value, at a sustainable pace, while adapting to the changing needs of the business.

The agile scrum teams should aim to have a consistent velocity which, in turn, will lead them to a sustainable pace.

Stable Velocity. Sustainable Pace. — Mike Cottmeyer

Agile Tip # 9 : Split your stories into small stories. Resist the temptation to group items together to avoid the management overhead. Smaller stories flow better through the sprint.

Imagine 1,000 marbles working their way down a chute rather than 100 basketballs working their way down the same chute. Smaller stories are easy to estimate and have less variability than large stories.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. — Vincent Gogh

Agile Tip # 10: Refine Definition of Ready. A Definition of Ready is a checklist of items that must be met before a story is included into the current sprint.

For example: Has the story been refined and estimated? Does the story have an acceptance criteria? Are there any dependencies that are blocking the story? Does the story have a clear business value?

Simply put, things always had to be in a production-ready state: if you wrote it, you darn well had to be there to get it running! — Mike Miller

Learn Scrum with my book, The Basics Of SCRUM available at Amazon. Read more blogs and watch free webinars here.

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