The Absolute Journey of Implementing Scrum in Custom Software Development



Figure 1: Agile Software Development Cycle

It’s astonishing how renowned companies able to release the latest versions of their products frequently. How they maintained their positions in that fast-growing world of technology?

Things like this hooked me up, even, any developer, who has a hunger to know more about the upcoming trend in a world full of technology. 

It is the basic reason for the high demand for agile project managers or developers in the market.

The aged approach of predictability and repetitiveness, which is known as the Waterfall method, delivers the custom software to the user at the time of project completion. It is too time-consuming process as it takes months and years to deliver a product. That is the reason which makes it unsuitable for small projects. On the other hand, Agile is much more fast, relevant, iterative, responsive to change, and suitable for both large and small projects. It involves the user at each step for a better understanding of the requirements of the users and to provide the results effectively and efficiently.

Now, What are you waiting for? Let us see, what Agile brings on the table and how it can help your developers in developing custom software?

Before taking a deeper dive, you should know the starting and ending points of this journey.

This journey will take you from the origin of Agile to its key values, principles, and, then, yield you steps for implementing the Agile Project Management.

Let’s take a short tour to see what actually agile is.

What is Agile?

Agile is much more about philosophy rather than a methodology. If we say in core terms, it is an iterative, incremental, and evolutionary process to evolve requirements and solutions through collaborative efforts of self-organizing, cross-functioning of the team, and the users. 

Wait! Before delving into so much extra-ordinary jargon, it’s better to understand the roots. Why the need for agile project management arises? What happens to other methods? Why other methods are diminishing so rapidly?

In the early ’70s, the Waterfall methodology was at its peak. No doubt, It was a great way to develop software, many software were made using this methodology which means spending the bulk of time and effort in gathering resources and planning with a lot of decisions which is not reliable as they are made on assumptions.

But, at the beginning of the ’90s, the turning point has come, the need for PC computing started to grow rapidly due to which the crisis arose in custom software development which is widely known as Application delivery lag. There comes a time, when Waterfall Methodology proved a time-consuming, less-effective and efficient. So, there was no reason to continue with the Waterfall methodology left.

It’s the very time when Agile was born. With Agile, the concept of the evolutionary method, iterative and incremental process came into existence.

The basic idea behind the evolutionary process is the involvement of users in each step of custom software development. We show a piece of the system to the customer and based on the feedback received, we continue to develop prototypes.

Whereas, iterative and incremental process stands for developing a system with repeated cycles in the same portions at a time which is an opportunity for custom software developers to take advantage of what was learned during the development of earlier versions of the system. 

It’s been a time when the middle of nowhere, the group of seventeen fellows arose with the idea of lightweight custom software development processes with a documented outline of how things should be done, where, they talked about some key values that all Agile Project should follow :

  1. One should converse about :
  • What process should be followed? 
  • Which tools are required for use?
  • Which software should be used over documentation?
  1. One should make sure the collaboration of the customer in the process of custom software development.
  2. One should be flexible to change one’s plan in the response of requirements for modifications.

Apart from the above mentioned key values, we need to focus on its key parts like prototypes, collaboration, and iteration. We can see these things in Agile manifesto where they talked about guiding principles to run an agile project:

Figure 2: Agile Principles
  • Keep Customer satisfaction as a central focus of product development.
  • Considered modifications whenever and wherever required.
  • Show-off working software to key stakeholders frequently in weeks not months.
  • There should be close cooperation between business people and developers.
  • The meet-ups should be conducted in a particular time-span for discussing the hurdles, and other aspects of the project.
  • The primary measure of progress is based on the working quality of the software.
  • The constant pace must be maintained.
  • One should continuously pay attention to create a good design.
  • One should maintain simplicity by keeping track of tasks that are done and those which are not done yet.
  • The team must be self-organizing. 
  • The team must work towards becoming more effective and efficient by reflecting on their past achievements.

If you are thinking of developing a software, then, these basic principles of Agile can prove to be a sky-rocket as a response to high expectations of the users.

Long ago goes the time when users used to ask for the documentation, now, they want to maintain their custom software with the next release only.

In this fast-growing world, our needs are increasing day-by-day. And Agile is beyond great as it puts the user’s needs first at the time of custom software development.

How to Implement Scrum in Custom Software Development?

Congratulations! You have covered most of it. Now, You’re ready and welcome to change the way your team visualizes the custom software development and turns to an agile way.

Agile is all about maintaining consistency between the constant planning, execution, learning, and iteration, but there is a way out by breaking it into some steps:

Figure 3: Steps to implement scrum in custom software development.

Step 1: Be Transparent With Your Vision

What is hidden inside a nutshell?

Believe it or not! At the beginning of any project, one needs a well-structured plan and clear vision. Planning is related to the usage of schedules for planning the report progress within the project environment and can be done manually. It is where you are going to head back as you build.

There are some key points which you can take into consideration while planning:

  • What is the scope of the project?
    (What tasks are needed to be accomplished to deliver a product?)
  • Which methods should be used?
  • What is the time duration of each task?

There is a need to organize the project plans (It involves documentation planning assumptions and decisions that help in guiding both project execution and control), workload (The amount of work an individual has to do), as well as management of teams and individuals. It is all done by an activity network diagram that enables identification of the critical path and defined the logical dependencies between tasks.

Therefore, Resources can be evaluated and the total cost of the project can be estimated by allocating cost for each activity.

 Now, the goal-oriented Project schedule is optimized for achieving the appropriate balance between resource usage and project duration to follow with the objectives of the project.

After the establishment and acceptance of the project schedule, it becomes what is known as the baseline schedule.

Who does it?

The product owner does that. It is the product owner’s responsibility to guide his team as he is heavily involved in program backlog refinement and preparing for Program increment planning.

When it is done?

It must be done before the project is started, at least periodically for updates.

Step 2: Plan Your Sprints

Figure 4: Sprint’s planning.

What is inside a nutshell?

It’s time to organize the inner track of the plan. For that, the Product owner uses Sprint – a short time frame in which planned activities take place that has their deadlines and time-span and it lasts from one to four weeks. A lot of project management approaches use it and a lot of people use it for their time management as well.

At the beginning of the sprint cycle, the product owner needs to determine the product backlog. It’s you and your team’s responsibility to create a list of all the backlog items and prioritize them as per the strategy and business goals by estimating the workload that you can carry in that period. And it’s scrum master has to make sure no distractions come in the way and work is done efficiently.

Who does it?

Planning something is a team effort from ever since. Therefore, the involvement of the whole team – Product Owner, Manager, and all the team members are required at this stage.

Step 3: It’s Time for Custom Software Requirement Analysis

What is hidden inside a nutshell?

Figure 5: Requirement Analysis

As you are ready with a plan and strategy, it’s time for a custom software requirement analysis which is a long and tiresome task. It helps to solve small problems and involves three types of activities:

  • Eliciting requirements – a practice of researching and discovering the requirements of a system from users, customers, and other stakeholders, business process documentation, stakeholder interviews which are combinedly known as requirements gathering.
  • Analyzing requirements to make sure whether the stated requirements are clear, complete, consistent, unambiguous, and resolving any apparent conflict.
  • There are a lot of ways to document requirements like summary lists, use-cases, and user stories.

 It is important to identify all the stakeholders to be updated with all their needs and to ensure they understand the implications of the new systems as it changes the environment and relationships between people. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into it.

Stakeholder identification

Figure 6: Stakeholder Identification

We are well-aware till now, the stakeholders are not limited to the organization, they are involved in the process of custom software development. Stakeholders may include the following:

  • Who operates the system (normal and maintenance operators)
  • One who benefits from the system (functional, political, financial and social beneficiaries)
  • Who is involved in purchasing the system. 
  • Organizations which regulate aspects of the system (financial, safety, and other regulators)
  • The people or organizations who are opposed to the system (negative stakeholders)
  • The organizations which are responsible for systems
  • those organizations that integrate with the organization for whom the system is designed.

We can use several techniques to understand the requirements of the user. These may include the Use-cases, User-stories, contract-style requirement lists.

But, the best technique is User-stories.

Let’s delve into it!

User-Stories

Figure 7: User – Stories

It’s an informal description of one or more features of a custom software system. It is written by users which facilitates communication and helps the software teams organize their understanding of the system and its context. 

Sometimes User-Stories are misunderstood as a custom software requirement. 

User-stories are an informal description of a feature whereas a custom software requirement is a formal description of need.

Step 4: Track the Work-Progress of the Custom Software Development

Figure 8: Daily stand-ups meeting.

What is inside a nutshell?

To make sure no hurdles in the way, a 15- minute stand-up meeting routine or daily scrum is followed. The purpose behind this leg-breaking meeting is to remind others to keep the meeting short and to the point.

There, the whole team is gathered together to discuss what they did yesterday, what they have planned for today and about the obstacles which are through the way.

The daily scrum meetings are too effective for Agile project management as they give space to every team member to speak and encourage the members to work effectively and efficiently.

Step 5: Let Be a Little More Creative

Figure 9: Software Design and Coding

What is inside a nutshell?

After the whole process of planning and estimating requirements, comes the part to design software. The process of a custom software design involves a sequence of steps, a creative vision and mind to design software solutions for dozens of problems. At this stage, you don’t need to bother about coding, a time will come.

What things contribute to make a good software design?

As red chili powder plays a major role to add a little spicy taste to the food, in the same way, Creative skills, past experience, a sense of what makes a “good” software, and an overall commitment to quality are examples of artificial ingredients for the success of a competent design and adds a added advantage to a software developer’s toolbox.

Let’s talk about it in detail!

Some software design may include:

  • User-centered software design: –
  • It is a complete process of giving extensive attention to usability goals, user characteristics, environment, tasks, workflow of a product, service and process at each stage of the design process to make sure that users are fully satisfied with this improvement of the product.
  • Automated software design: – It is a process in which the user interface is not required or you can say lack of user involvement required. There is less interaction needed between humans and machinery. For example, the machines which are used in factory-like boiler, aircraft.

Well Done! You are now ready to know some key points, you probably need to care about :

  • To design good software, Software developers should consider alternative approaches, judge each and everything by keeping in mind the requirements of the problem, and check whether sufficient resources are available for the job completion.
  • Software developer should make sure that design can be traced back to know how design model is satisfying the requirements.
  • The software design’s structure should be able to use the structure of the problem as it exists in the real world and should be done gracefully.
  • The rules of style and format should be stated before the beginning of the work to make sure the uniformity, integration, and quality are maintained.
  • While designing software, one should consider that design should be modular, compatible, extensible, fault-tolerant, maintainable, reliable, reusable, and secure.
  • Don’t confuse designing with coding as the design is for program components whereas the coding addresses the small implementation details that help in procedural design to be coded.


Step 6: Let’s Make Our Hands a Little Bit Dirty

What is inside a nutshell?

Now comes the fun part where you are ready to dig your hands in it and make ends meet. Coding is the process of designing and building an executable program to complete a specific task that involves analysis, implementation, accuracy and resource requirement of generating algorithms that often require logic, application’s requirements, terminology, and functionality.

Apart from all this, debugging, testing, and source code maintenance is also required.

Step 7: Time For Review

Figure 10: Sprint Review

What is inside a nutshell?

After completion of everything as planned, the review part comes where you observe what has been done and give the quick look of the working software to your teammates and any key stakeholder as well.

For that, the sprint review meeting should be conducted where the involvement of the product owner, customer, and all team members are required.

It plays a major part in the custom software development for knowing if every part is perfect, if not, then, what is the reason behind it.

Step 8: Looking Back For Betterment

Figure 11: Sprint Retrospective

What is inside a nutshell?

Hurrah! Now, you are at the last step of the sprint cycle where the team itself, identifies what did or did not work for them during the last sprint and come up with an idea of improving it and observe what they can learn from their last sprint as well. It is an extension of review and typically lasts for 90 minutes.

What’s Next?

Figure 12: Ready to Ship

As you are ready with your product in a much lesser time. Agile is no doubt a fantastic way for custom software development. Now, you can have fun with shipping and getting feedback and making fixes to your product.

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