Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber

In the world of software development, managers have deployed many strategies over the years to guide complex software projects. As the result of the numerous headaches and failures, different methodologies have arisen that try to handle the malleable process of developing software. The so-called waterfall approach, a mirror image of traditional management of most non-software projects, first entails producing an unequivocal specification that theoretically leads to a simple implementation process.

Nevertheless, this waterfall approach failed time and time again for many software projects. In comes the Agile software development approach. It encourages rapid and incremental development, continuous communication with the customers, adaptation and self organizing teams.

Scrum is a method of agile software development, and Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber gives real life stories of teams that used scrum successfully and unsuccessfully. The stories are short and illustrative of common pitfalls and misunderstandings that teams encounter when first using Scrum. For example, one such story told of a Scrum Master running the daily scrum meeting, asking each developer what he/she has accomplished and assigning them their next task. This is a major violation of Scrum; Scrum teams are self managed. The Scrum Master facilitates the use of Scrum for the project, but scrum teams decide who works on what and the best way to get the job done correctly.

This book was a quick read and great introduction to Scrum. No software development process is perfect, however, and neither will any new methodologies that may appear in the future be either. In my ideal world of software projects, developers should never need to attend meetings, interruptions will never spring up, and they will work unbothered in “the flow” all day long. However, people need to exchange information and software development is a team game. The Scrum process seems to be a great way to boost productivity, satisfy managers and stakeholders, and increase workplace moral.

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