Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Latest patterns for Scrum

xProcess 2.8 is being released this week and among the exciting new capabilities are some new sample processes, including updates to the Scrum patterns. Here are some of the highlights.

Firstly the project pattern for the "Basic Scrum" process is now built from composite tasks so that there is a standard structure that is provided for all its projects. The Hierarchy diagram shows the structure, having top-level tasks for: General and Scrum administration overheads (overheads are unplanned or unplannable tasks that take up a proportion of everyone's time); the Sprints (a composite task which contains an iteration of Sprint instances); and the Unscheduled Backlog (a composite which contains a collection of Backlog Items).


You can also see from this diagram the structure of the Sprint and Backlog Item patterns. Sprint is a collection of the Backlog Items to be scheduled over the period, and consists of a single task. The beuty of xProcess of course is that these patterns can be modified to match the way your team is working or the particular application of Scrum that you are using. For example if you are using Scrum with XP you might want to rename the Backlog Item pattern to User Story and perhaps provide some structure to the set of tasks and role types that corresponds to0 the way you are using the method.

When you make a new Scrum Project in xProcess you'll be prompted for values of the parameters of the pattern. You can see these in this screenshot, where as well as defining the name of the project the start date, duration (the number of 4 week Sprints) and the Wiki location.
The Wiki location is not a required field but we've found many people find wikis are a convenient way to group documentation. By providing the location of the wiki in this dialog the descriptions of your backlog items are automatically transferred to a wiki page while also being browsable and editable in xProcess views.

Having created your Scrum project from this pattern, the next thing to do is add your resources. You need to add someone with a Scrum Master role and the others with Participant roles - let's say six participants in this example.

Because the tasks in the Scrum pattern are defined as top-down, even at this stage xProcess is able to provide a project schedule, based on the specified duration of the project. More usefully though, this is the time to create the first Sprint (right-click on the Sprints task and select New...) and then create some Backlog Items, either in the Sprint or in the Unscheduled Backlog if we don't yet know which Sprint we want them to be completed in. Backlog Items are prioritized, firstly from the particular Sprint into which they are created or moved, and secondly by the priority order of the tasks within a Sprint. You can edit this priority order by opening the Sprint editor, clicking on the priorities tab and either dragging and dropping or changing the priority number.

Once you have a Sprint which contains the items the team will be implementing, open the Burndown view. This provides both the history of how much work has been completed so far in the Sprint and a forecast of what should be completed. You'll see immediately for example if there's too much work in there and forecast dates are beyond the end of the Sprint. Here's an example of just one such Sprint... (click on the image to see more detail)Looks like some discussion needs to go on as to whether all the functionality is vital this time round!
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