Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Development : Scrum needs a Software Life Cycle

I'm trying to avoid sounding like a dinosaur today, but I have an issue with Scrum... I've been a team member and a scrum master, but I've never really been a product owner, until now... I'm currently in the middle of a large background turn around for my employer where a project which was largely parked and ignored for nearing three years has been awakened like some mammoth from the permafrost.

For the project in question though it had been frozen for a long time, the whole team who worked on it had been let go, I am the soul development survivor.  I therefore find myself the team member, scrum manager and product owner...

And so I'm being pragmatic as I swap roles and perform different tasks, I do have a tester with me, so I have to hold a scrum for him, and I've passed on several stories and he in turn has helped, from the requirements, produce stories for us to tackle head on.

The large part of the work however is from a document, handed to me, and I've been left to generate some movement.

The first thing which has struck me, and something which you never really see mentioned when you look at the Scrum training materials or concepts, is that the product owner needs themselves to have a Software Life Cycle.

They need to Analyse their requirements, to Design what the product should be then hand it over to the team to Implement, before seeing it gets Tested and meets their requirements.... Very much as I was taught the general software life-cycle in the 90's and used it thereafter... Long before Scrum was in vogue.

I asked a peer to review my thoughts on this, that we were driving the development for the requirements at hand with a software development lifecycle, which struck both he and I has "old hat" delving down the chain to the team (still myself, but that will change soon) as a Scrum & Sprint pattern.

Our conclusion is that, indeed a "Product Owner" when they come to think about "AS A <ROLE>, I WANT <FEATURE>, SO THAT I CAN <DO SOMETHING>" stories they are really unguided, that Scrum talks about the team understanding the requirements, but the methodology assumes those above have a good grasp on the requirements.

We went to far as to say that modern development of small light parts, or pages, within an app or web-page might never meet this dichotomy, that you need to guide the whole system and thought about the whole thing long before you come to write your stories, only a large system implementation; such as I am undertaking; might fall into this crevasse.

I can see how easily it might be for myself in this temporary triple role to lead myself off course, I can see how hard it might be for the Product Owner to express what they want, and I look at the Software Development Life Cycle and I think... "If only they'd mention that Product Owners should be along that road before they run into Scrum", some projects might run more smoothly, the tasks of Scrum Masters might be easier.

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