Adopting Scrum

We kicked off a new project a few months ago: rewriting ANTS Memory Profiler.  As part of the project, we decided to give Scrum a try. The team was already reasonably Agile without explicitly adopting Scrum principles, as we had our EAP program in place when developing ANTS Performance Profiler. But hey, why not try something new?

Scrum created a few interesting challenges all round. From the developers’ point of view, the process is reasonably well understood and seems to work well. The burn-down chart and Scrum planning sessions give the whole team a good understanding of where the project is at, and roughly if it’s on schedule or not. But I’m not so sure it’s equally useful for the other parts of the team. For the testers, documentation team, and usability team and product managers the process has definitely been less easy; generally because it highlights project planning problems that we’ve not previously dealt with in any way other than slipping the release date.

For testers, the difficult questions are things like:

  • when do we  do integration testing?
  • Should it happen in the same Sprint as the development of a story or the next one?
  • If it’s in the next one, is that story really “done” at the end of the previous Sprint?

The usability team and product managers have their own set of new challenges, too. When working on ANTS Performance Profiler, the specs could change whenever there was enough supporting evidence. We could instantly push these changes through to development, and our customer-focused developers would happily accept them. No problems there. But now everyone has to wait for the end of a Sprint before pushing changes onto the backlog, rather than letting the developer choose when to work on issues when they’re identified.

In some ways, this could all be a good thing; It’ll make us think about the cost of design changes even more. But it could equally slow down the design refinement cycle. I could encourage the team to adopt items in the current Sprint, but if they feel that they’re failing to complete Sprints, they could end up being de-motivated. There don’t seem to be any clear-cut answers

Have you adopted scrum yet? What sort of problems have you faced and, more importantly, how have you overcome them? I would love to hear your thoughts.