Get certified - Transform your world of work today


The 4 Rs of Agile

7 September 2016

Madhavi Ledalla

Agile software development is based on iterative development in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration among self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Key driving elements

There are many important elements that contribute to a successful product delivery; however, here are four of the key elements that drive and nurture the incremental evolution of any product. There could be other contributing factors as well.

Right Product

Build the product with the right functionality. This element emphasizes building the right product increment, i.e., the right feature set of functionality, at the right time. This helps the team invest time efficiently in building the right set of features that will be usable to the end customers, not building based on assumptions.

Produce Right

Deliver the product with the right quality. This element is about the quality of delivery. Quality must be embedded in the product development process right from the beginning, not toward the end.

Right Team

Build the right collaborative teams for delivering the right product. This element emphasizes the importance of having highly collaborative and self-organized teams that complement each other’s expertise. Each team member has a special skill that he or she brings to the table, and the likelihood of success is best achieved when team members harness each other’s core competencies.

Right Process

Lightweight process to drive the execution. Choosing an effective process framework is critical to the life cycle of a project. A good framework includes practices that ease the product development and delivery process.

Note that this classification of key driving elements is not part of the Scrum Guide. However, these four driving elements are proposed here to help visualize Agile and Scrum from a different perspective.
In February 2001, 17 software professionals gathered at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah and found that they had a lot in common, agreeing on several important aspects of software development. They captured the commonality in their thoughts and named this new method "Agile." These thought leaders, coming from different programming methods, didn’t agree about much, but they found consensus around four main values, which together formed the Agile Manifesto.

Agile principles

In addition to the four Agile values stated in the Manifesto, the authors of the Agile Manifesto created 12 principles that guide our efforts in manifesting the Agile values. Here we will try to understand how each of the Agile principles supports the four driving elements of a successful product delivery, as discussed earlier. Each principle is linked to the four key elements it supports. In a few instances you will see that one principle can support more than one key element.
Driving Principle Driven Element
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. Right Product
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. Right Process
Right Product
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. Right Team
Right Process
Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential. Right Product
Right Process
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. Produce Right
Right Team
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. Right Team
Right Process
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. Right Product
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Right Team
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done. Right Team
The most efficient and effective way of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face communication. Right Team
Right Process
Working software is the primary measure of progress. Right Product
Produce Right
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. Produce Right

The three pillars

The three pillars of the empirical process are inspection, adaptation, and transparency.
  • Transparency: Ensure that both the developer and the customer have a common understanding with respect to the status of the product at any given time.
    • Objective: Produce Right, Right Product, Right Team
  • Inspection: Run a thorough check on the product we have developed in every iteration and the process we have followed to achieve the shared goal.
    • Objective: Right Process, Right Product
  • Adaptation: Work on the product based on the feedback received from stakeholders and improve the processes to increase the effectiveness of teams.
    • Objective: Right Process, Right Product, Produce Right, Right Team

Scrum roles

The responsibilities of the three roles of Scrum — product owner, ScrumMaster, and development team — are manifested and laid down such that they collaboratively drive and aid the four core key driving elements of any product, i.e., Right Product, Produce Right, Right Team, and Right Process, as shown below.

Any sprint plan begins with a product goal in sight, which the product owner has clearly communicated to the development team. The objective of this communication is to build the Right Product. After the goals are communicated, the development team self-organizes and decides how to build the product. Their main objective is to Produce Right by infusing technical expertise right from the beginning. The ScrumMaster coaches the team to ensure constant collaboration and effective communication within the team to use individual skills for a common goal. This paves the way for building the Right Team. To ease the execution process, a lightweight Right Process must be in place (for example, the Scrum framework), and the ScrumMaster plays the role of a process guardian as he helps the team understand and implement it. The sprint concludes with the delivery of a high-value product to the end customer.

Artifacts: Definition of Done and Definition of Ready

The Definition of Done (DoD) defines what it means for the sprint backlog items to be "done" at the end of a sprint. It defines the completeness criteria of a user story.

The Definition of Ready defines the readiness criteria (or acceptance criteria) of a backlog item so that teams can pull that item into the iteration backlog. It is a checklist of the prerequisites that define when a story is ready to be taken into the sprint.

The DoD and acceptance criteria artifacts can be mapped to key driving elements of a product's success, as shown below.


Some of the metrics that help assess some of the aspects of the driving elements are shown below.

To conclude, the four Rs referenced here are my interpretation of visualizing Agile and Scrum from a different perspective and hence could vary, depending on how each person interprets Agile and Scrum.

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: 4.3 (11 ratings)


Be the first to add a comment...

You must Login or Signup to comment.

The community welcomes feedback that is constructive and supportive, in the spirit of better understanding and implementation of Scrum.


Newsletter Sign-Up