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Scrum Rituals versus Traditional Software Development Models

14 August 2014

Puja Mantri
Cognizant Technology Solutions

I will try to explain how the Scrum framework helps reduce the challenges and drawbacks in traditional software development. The Scrum framework promotes many techniques to make robust, usable, flexible software. Elements such as TDD, BDD, the Definition of Done, Scrum rituals, Scrum values, etc., make Scrum easy to adapt. Among these many techniques are the Scrum rituals, which enhance the communication between team members and make problems surface in the initial stages rather than at the end of the development cycle.

(1) Release planning

The purpose of release planning is to identify team capacity in terms of velocity, prioritize user stories from the product backlog, make high-level estimations of user stories in terms of story points, and understand the business needs behind each user story.

This ritual makes Scrum different from Waterfall in several ways:
  • Based on the availability of resources and the capacity planning of the team, we get a correct picture of the total work that can be done.
  • The priority given to each story helps team members decide which functionality is critical and frequently needed by the end user.
  • High-level estimates give business an idea about the effort required and how to plan the release accordingly. The estimate is usually performed using the story point estimation technique.

(2) Sprint planning

This meeting can be divided into two parts:
  1. In one part, the presence of the product owner (PO) is a must to explain the business in detail for each story and to answer any questions associated with each story. Here an in-depth analysis of the story is done.
  2. In the second part, each story is divided into a sub-task that can be done in a day, or an even smaller sub-task that can be done in two to three hours. Each story is picked up by team members based on skills and velocity. The PO may not be part of this meeting, since it involves technical discussions. User stories and tasks are estimated, often using Planning Poker. Each team member provides input based on his or her experience.
This ritual makes Scrum different from Waterfall in several ways:
  • Understanding business/requirements before starting development gives the developer and tester a clear picture of how the end result should look.
  • The entire team is involved in estimating; this helps teams come up with more accurate estimates and consider more aspects of a given user story.
  • Every team member is aware of the work done in the sprint, by themselves and by other team members.

(3) Scrum/daily stand-up

This is a 15-minute meeting held at the start of each day, where each team member provides information about his or her tasks according to the following format:
  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What is the plan for today?
  • Are there any impediments?
This ritual makes Scrum different from Waterfall in several ways:
  • The status of the task is tracked daily, so that it can be delivered on time. It also helps in scoping new items or de-scoping the few items that perhaps cannot be completed on time (due to various reasons, including incorrect estimation).
  • If there are any blockers or impediments, then those are addressed immediately. A team member can provide the solution or the ScrumMaster can take it forward if it can't be addressed by the team.
  • Each team member has a clear picture of what needs to be done today to meet the sprint goal.

(4) Sprint review

This meeting is held at the end of the sprint and is divided into two parts:
  1. One part is to give a summary of what was achieved in the sprint and what the outstanding issues are.
  2. The other part is to demonstrate the functionality implemented in the sprint to the PO/stakeholders/users.
This ritual makes Scrum different from Waterfall in a couple of ways:
  • Feedback is received early in the process, so that it can be incorporated early and the software can become production-ready.
  • What is built by the developer and what is expected by business are in sync. Everyone is on the same page.

(5) Retrospective

This meeting is held to reflect on the entire sprint, with each team member taking a look at what happened and presenting his or her objective opinions about the various issues as follows:
  • What went so well that it can be continued in successive sprints?
  • What are areas that need improvement, so the same mistakes don't happen again?
  • What actions should be taken to improve the mistakes made in the last sprint?
This ritual makes Scrum different from Waterfall in an important way:
  • The ritual supports continuous improvement. It is designed to improve the process so the team can perform well in any circumstance, learn from their mistakes, and avoid repeating them. The retrospective improves the efficiency of the team.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 5 (1 ratings)


Deepak Joshi, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 11/1/2014 12:29:09 PM
Hi Puja, Nicely recapped the 'Scrum ceremonies'.

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