Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Scrum project initiation


Very interesting project to work with some cool robots :-) and nice people. and more than anything the office is located in a beautiful area..I love this trees houses, plants, flowers..and seen 2 apple trees today while walking to find the train station . its a picture book enviorenment outside :-) and I love them all... Ok..I had a good start today. The customer is located in Norway. Working with other nationalities for some challenging tasks specially working in the project initiation stage where you need to understand the project context and stakeholders clearly and come up with the best customized model for the right context and drive everyone towards it.. That fascinates me all the time. This time it was not that hard as Ive experienced with some projects before.. Most the facts were straight.. When I listened to all the discussions going around I spotted some mostly used keywords by the people;
- Working with Verticals
- Collaborative team- Prioritization- Incremental product deliveries- fear for the risks with offshore model- Difficulties of limiting the scope or defining at once- The visibility of the value out of work.
Further I observed there seems high degree of commitment and enthusiasm by the customer team for the project. So now that its clear I wouldn’t go for any waterfall project initiation in this context. You can see that very clearly. We agreed on Agile (ok - scrum) due to many reasons.
Working with Offshore model is never like working with collocated teams. Offshore itself is very challenging when it comes to Software projects. The biggest problem you experience in offshore model is that isolation after initial study at customer location which leads to most the project failures. The old saying “Out of sight is out of mind” is proven again and again in most the offshore projects. Therefore it’s a key factor that we need to use a work model which doesn’t give that chance of getting isolated though you are in a different geographical location. Scrum facilitates that.
IBM scrum community guide for scrum in distributed team context gives lots of insights about distributed teams using scrum even with teams where there is no overlapping time zones. But I don’t think that’s a good idea anyway unless one team is willing to scarifies their off time – It’s a different discussion anyway.. Point here is that you can see many distributed teams around the world moving towards agile due to this “Out of sight” risk factor.
Ok coming back to my project, the team model, either its going to be 2 scrum teams in 2 locations and working for verticals and then doing scrum of scrums or whether both country resources working in one team with one scrum master and product owner. Both the options its important that you share one product backlog and commit to stories instead having 2 product backlogs.
I have chosen the 2nd option by keeping provision to go for the 1st option when the teams start to grow. We can scale up the model when there were more team members are added to the teams.
Identifying the product owner and the scrum master is another important thing as you identify the Project manager in waterfall project initiation. I always agree with scrum experts that Product owner is the most difficult role to be played in a scrum team.
Product owner is a person who needs a mix of skills, he needs to have a good business vision, Project skills and he is the person who has the final “say” of the product in a scrum team by coordinating with many other stakeholders. Compared with traditional work we did before this is like Scrum team is transferring the risks of requirements outside the team to the Product owner (Yes its Risk transferring up to an extend I should say )
In this project I managed to spot a Product owner after our initial discussions and thank god he agreed to play the role. ! Im so happy about that because I saw that clear idea about what they need is mostly lies with him. So his main tasks would be now to create themes, assigned values with other stakeholders, prioritize them.. After that we will be discussing about his release plan and then set the product backlog accordingly.
Identifying scrum master – in this team model should he be in Norway or in SrI Lanka. Looking at the current context we decided that the scrum master should come from Norway team. Which is a good decision for the model 2 right now. Further he has experience using scrum so it will be a good choice. I have 4 more days to go.. Not full days.. its challenging to do the rest of the tasks left to complete during rest of the days.. I need to structure my time well to prioritize on what I have to do. Stakeholder reporting and training team on scrum values and disciplines is another vital task requested to do at the initiation. Need to look at the risk analysis too. So I have few busy but “my kind of work” ahead :-)

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