Agile Scrum Methodology
Agile software development methodology is an iterative method of software development in a highly flexible and interactive manner. As part of our experience in software development and the use of different methodologies, we identified the challenges and started practicing Scrum. We have developed our own Agile Stigasoft Process Framework, which covers all the aspects in the development of a successful solution. The key characteristics and benefits are:
- To satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software and thus lower the risk.
- Welcoming changing requirements even late in development.
- The process is tailored for each project to satisfy the specific needs of the client.
The key to the Agile process is its flexibility. At Stigasoft, we recognize that a solution may only be a vision in the customers mind and that all requirements cannot always be thought out and planned at the outset. The process therefore requires constant interaction between Stigasoft and the customer, to provide feedback from both sides about how the project is going.
The main phases of a project are Planning, Project Incremental Development, Incremental Deployment and Project Closing. The Incremental Development stage is organized into consecutive Sprints or iterations where different tasks are carried out to implement a set of requirements.
As the project starts, the team is formed and planning activities take place to organize the work, this is called Iteration Zero. The Release planning includes the requirement gathering and fully understanding of the expectation of the customer. A product backlog is created, with the list of product requirements. The technical vision is documented and a high level system architecture and design are established.
The following project criteria are established in this stage:
- Done Criteria: agreement within the team and with the customer, as to what needs to be completed for a product to be finished.
- List of user stories: discussions between the project team and the client to define what users actually want out of the product and the priorities.
- Testing plan: the types of testing that will be used for each product.
- Release schedule: Estimation of timing to release a product.
Project Incremental Development
At Stigasoft our development teams work according to a well-defined methodology which manage and control software and product development using iterative, incremental practices. This process significantly increases productivity and reduces time to benefits while facilitating adaptive, empirical systems development. The Stigasoft development methodology is designed to be flexible throughout the project. It provides a control mechanism for planning a product release and then managing variables as the project progresses. Development is planned and executed in short cycles called Sprints or iterations.
Creation of a task backlog
The work is organized into a living backlog: the list of requirements or user stories. The backlog is prioritized by the Product Owner according to business needs. The goal is to deliver first what it is the most valuable to the Client, to get the best ROI.
- The product progresses in a series of short cycles. The length of the sprint is set based on many factors to be assessed by the team, but typically goes from 2 to 4 weeks.
- At the beginning of each Sprint, a brief planning session takes place in which the backlog items for the sprint are selected.
- A daily scrum meeting of 15 minutes is organized, at which progress is explained, upcoming work is described and obstacles are raised. This daily scrum meeting is facilitated by the Scrum Master.
- A burndown chart is updated daily to communicate how much work is remaining to complete the sprint backlog.
By the end of a sprint, the team demonstrates the increment to the Product Owner and Stakeholders. Feedback is gathered as to make the necessary improvements to the product and the process.
A brief "lessons learned" meeting takes place, at which all team members review the sprint with Scrum Master. The purpose of this meeting is to identify what worked well and what didn’t work well and identify what needs to be done to address the problems. This results into team-resolvable and organizational impediments and next steps to solve them.
A release cycle includes many iterations (typically 4 to 6). For every release to a production environment, one more iteration is planned to do thorough testing, bug fixing and final tuning. During the release iteration, no new features are developed.
We use collaboration tools to make offshore and onsite teams work together in an efficient way. Agile teams are typically of 5 to 10 members. Projects that require larger teams are organized using many small teams, probably at different locations. In such scenario, scrum masters meet together in a "scrum of scrums" meeting to coordinate teams.
Some of the tools used to make this integration possible are:
- Information sharing: Wiki
- Version Control: SVN, CVS.
- Issue Tracking: Bugzilla, JIRA, TrackStudio
- Communication: Skype, VoIP Phones, VNC, Video Conferences, GoToMeeting
During the execution of the project, different support activities are carried out:
- Project Management: monitor project status, hold status meetings, gather and analyze metrics. Perform daily scrum meetings with all the team members as described in the scrum process. Manage scope changes. Perform risk management.
- Configuration Management: create and maintain code repositories and configuration environments, generate and control the releases through continuous integration systems.
- Quality Assurance: plan and execute product reviews to assure desired quality, perform process & product audits to verify adherence to processes. Report and complete a follow-up of non-conformities. Stigasoft performs Process and Product Quality Assurance during the whole project, to ensure that the best practices are used and to guarantee a high-quality delivery at every stage.
- Organizational Training: Coordinate coaching and training activities with team members to ensure that every team member has the necessary skills to perform the tasks assigned to them.