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Mar 28

Scrum is the gateway drug of the agile community

From the ScrumDevelopment yahoo group, Pascal Roy asks:

Question to the community: Do you feel that using Scrum without any of the agile engineering practices can yield good results?

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The question I raise (and I shamelessly timed this message with one of Ron’s that more or less discusses this issue) is whether or not you can do iterative development effectively without some of the technical engineering practices.

Here’s my response

In my experience, the most valuable of the agile practices is, without a doubt, doing development in shorter iterations.

Why? Because most people can understand it, it isn't particularly controversial, and yet it still requires the team to think differently about how to organize themselves, how to organize the project and how to quantify what "done" means. Most waterfall development organizations have a QA department, and they are typically fairly good at doing regression testing on previously delivered content.

In my experience, once you have relatively short iterations, the other Scrum practices become more sensible - working software at the end, product backlog, burndown charts, etc. And once you have Scrum, the other agile methods become more attractive - developers start to value unit tests and continuous integration as ways to make it easier to hit the "working software" goal. User stories and acceptance tests are also clearly useful. Onsite customer and pair programming are further refinements to help the team achieve more in the same time, but are also not always feasible.

But you will have a much harder time getting a BDUF team to adopt XP than to incrementally adopt Scrum and grow from there.

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