Author: Brian M. Rabon
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Reviewer: Ian Stirk
This book aims to teach you Scrum quickly without any technobabble, how does it fare?
The book is aimed at anyone interested in learning Scrum, especially the beginner or intermediate-level user. Additionally, the book can serve as a quick reference for Scrum veterans. The book requires no programming or technical knowledge. This short book, consists of 92 pages, and should be readable within a few hours.
Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.
Chapter 1 Introduction
The book opens with an overview of Agile, outlining its history, purpose, and the place of Scrum within it. Agile methods have an emphasis on collaboration, accepting change, iteration, continuous improvement and shippable products.
Scrum is a specific implementation of Agile, and slated as the most popular Agile method. The chapter outlines the 3 primary Scrum roles (Team Member, Product Owner, ScrumMaster) before outlining the ever changing Product Backlog (ideas for the product). Work on building a shippable product is done within a Sprint (2-4 week timeframe). Sprint planning, priority and Backlog items are briefly discussed. A Daily Scrum meeting is held to discuss progress and problems, facilitated with various tools (e.g. Scrum boards). A Sprint Review is undertaken at the end of the Sprit to provide feedback and improvements to the method. Sprints continue until the product is ‘done’.
Next, the chapter looks at how Scrum is different to the Waterfall plan-driven method, before looking at the positive features and benefits of Scrum. The chapter ends with a look at when it’s best to use Scrum.
This chapter provides a summary of the rest of the book. Agile is outlined, putting Scrum into context, before giving a working overview of the Scrum method. It might have been useful to emphasise that research suggests typically, when using the waterfall method, only about 25% of a product’s features are used/wanted, the other features are wasted effort – thus showing the importance of Scrum’s Sprint approach.
The chapter is very easy to read and understand. There are useful (playful) diagrams, and website links for further information. Helpfully, all Scrum-based terms are given in bold, and explained in the book’s glossary. These traits apply to the whole of the book.
Chapter 2 Roles In Scrum
Here we discuss the 3 roles in a Scrum team, namely:
Team Member (develops the Product)
Product Owner (interface between team and stakeholders)
ScrumMaster (gives direction, and clears any problems)
In each case, an outline of the role is given together with its key traits. This is followed by some very practical sections on common Q & A, and Smells (real-world problems and their solution).
There’s an interesting discussion on moving away from the command-and-control style of management, to Scrum’s self-managing method. I particularly liked the idea of the 5-whys technique, where you repeatedly ask the why question to get at the problem’s root cause.
Lastly, the Stakeholder, who funds the project and wants the end Product, is discussed. Stakeholders are often from management, typically domain experts, providing invaluable input at various stages.
This chapter provides an honest and practical look at the roles within a Scrum team, their attributes, interactions, purpose and aims.
Chapter 3 Meetings (Ceremonies) In Scrum
This chapter look s at the meetings involved in performing a Sprint, which is typically time-boxed as 2 to 4 weeks duration.
The first meeting discussed is Sprint Planning, this determines the Sprint Goal and the content of the Sprint. Typically, half the meeting involves deciding what items from the Product Backlog to include, and the other half involves how the features are designed. Time estimates are produced and these are viewed against the expected Sprint duration.
The Daily Scrum (daily stand-up) meeting aims to combine everyone’s endeavours to ensure the Sprint Goal is still achievable. Attendees answer three questions:
The Product Backlog Refinement meeting aims to identify the Product Backlog items for implementation in the near future.
The Sprint Review meeting aims to get feedback on the work done during the Sprint, it is a Show-and-Tell based meeting.
The last meeting discussed is the Sprint Retrospective, here we learn what went right, and what went wrong in the Sprint. The aim here is to learn lessons so we do more things right.
This chapter provides a very useful overview of the various types of Scrum meeting, in many ways these drive the Scrum method, and are at its core. For each type of meeting, details are provided on the attendees, duration, location, frequency, and purpose. Useful outline meeting agendas are given, together with sections on Q and A, and Smells.
Chapter 4 Artifacts In Scrum
Artifacts are things we create. This chapter looks at the following Scrum artifacts:
Product Backlog (all the work that needs to be done, in total)
Sprint Backlog (what things need to be created by the end of a given Sprint)
Additional Artifacts (recommended for Scrum)
Velocity (how much work completed in a Sprint)
Burn-Up Chart (total size of Product Backlog and how much completed)
Burn-Down Chart (planned work versus remaining work in Sprint)
Scrum Board (shows how much work completed within a Sprint)
In each case, details are provided on what the artifact is, how to create it, its owner, and Smells.
This chapter provides a valuable overview of the artifacts in Scrum. It has helpful sections on setting up each artifact, together with some potential problems and their solution.
The book ends with a helpful short summary of the book, followed by a very useful glossary of all the Agile/Scrum terms used in the book.
This book aims to teach you Scrum quickly and succeeds effortlessly. The book is easy to read, with good explanations and flow, useful lists and diagrams, and helpful website links for further information. The many sections on Q & A, and Smells (real-world problems and their solution) are particularly useful, and practical.
Although the book is short (just 92 pages), it covers the main Scrum areas, discussing the Agile/Scrum movement, the different roles in Scrum, the meetings, and the artifacts to produce at various stages. It is a useful resource for learning Scrum, and can be used subsequently as a quick reference guide.
A book of this size can’t possibly cover all Scrum areas (e.g. user stories, Scaling Scrum), but it does cover the major topics. Links are provided for areas outside the scope of the book.
Overall, if you want a quick, concise, honest, practical, and comprehensive overview of Scrum, I recommend you buy this book.
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