At Ebury, all of our development teams use the Agile Scrum framework, so we thought it would be interesting to share a little bit about what goes on under the hood.
Scrum is used by over 12 million people around the world for products big and small. It all starts with a Product Owner who represents customers and other stakeholders. The Product Owner drives the Product Backlog, a prioritized dynamic list of all the work that might be needed for the product.
Work is done by a self-organizing Development Team during the Sprint, a period of time between one and four weeks.
During Sprint Planning, based on the Sprint goal, the Sprint Backlog is populated. Once a day, the Development Team meets for 15 minutes for the Daily Scrum to inspect and adapt their progress toward the Sprint goal and to surface dependencies or impediments.
So, who makes sure that the Scrum Framework is understood and enacted? the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is the servant leader of the Scrum Team and helps everyone understand Scrum theory, practices and rules. As the team works towards the Sprint goal, iterative delivery and feedback allow us to adapt our next steps. To improve transparency, the product increment can be released continuously during the Sprint.
At the end of the Sprint, the Scrum Team invites the stakeholders to the Sprint Review, where they collectively inspect the results. After the Sprint Review, the Scrum Team runs a Sprint Retrospective where they evaluate how they worked and build a plan for how to improve.
People are important, but everyone has to play their role in order to work fluently. The development team is responsible for delivering potentially shippable product increments (PSIs) at the end of each sprint, that is every at Ebury is two weeks. A team is typically made up of 5-9 individuals, including the Product Owner and the Team Lead, with cross-functional skills (developers and QAs working hand by hand) who do the actual work: analyse, design, develop, test and so forth. The development team in Scrum is self-organizing, meaning that they decide how to implement the work committed to the Product Owner.
The Product Owner is the person in charge of organizing all the stakeholder requests so that they make sense in terms of agility and prioritizes them, then she takes them to the development team so that they can be implemented.
The Team Lead is part of the team, in direct contact with the product owner, acts as an umbrella for the team and removes impediments. He is the go-to person for everything related to the sprint.
Most organizations adapt the agile framework to their needs, in our case the role of the Scrum Master is shared between the team leader and the Agile coaches.
The Scrum Master position at Ebury acts as an Agile Coach and it is not tied to a single team. They work with several teams facilitating meetings and ceremonies and helping everyone in anything related to agile practices and anything else required to succeed in each sprint. At the end of the day, they are the facilitators of the agile process, ensuring that the Scrum Framework is used as intended. They work together with the Team Leader to remove impediments. They also facilitate key sessions, encouraging the team to improve, acting as change agents and mentors.
They also support the Tech Lead role, who is responsible for designing the best technical solutions and how the architecture is evolving to meet requirements. All devs rely on the Tech Lead for technical sparring.
Stakeholders have deep knowledge of our business and are accountable for accomplishing the company’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Most of the communication between stakeholders and the dev team is through the Product Owner. But, we love to keep in touch with people working in Operations, Sales or Risks department, as we know that they appreciate our work.
Our Scrum Events
Is one of the most critical meetings for the Sprint goal. We usually spent between 1 and 2 hours reviewing the work from the Product Backlog that’s most valuable to be done next and assign that work into Sprint backlog. To speed up this meeting we have smaller Refinement or 3 amigos meetings in advanced when necessary.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
– Abraham Lincoln
We no longer use the term ‘Stand-up meeting’ since the teams are made up of people who work from different parts of the world.
A short organizational meeting is held each day. Limited to 15 minutes long. Each team member has to answer the following three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are there any impediments in your way?
All member have to pay attention to what the other teammates say. It is not a reporting meeting. Go!, we are agile.
Scrum of Scrums
Given that we have many development teams working on functionalities that can interact with each other, we need a mechanism in which the teams update each other on what they are working on. In this way, we can identify potential problems early and stay coordinated.
The Scrum of Scrums, is a brief weekly meeting attended by the Agile Coaches and a member of each team, to discuss in-progress tasks, the ones that will be done during this sprint and those that are coming soon.
To ensure the readiness of the stories that come in the next sprint, we run an on-demand activity in a Sprint through which the Product Owner and the Development Team add granularity to the issues in the Product Backlog.
The scope and objective of each story are explained. The aim of the meeting is to create a future vision and detect dependencies, risks and impediments that need to be solved.
When the Sprint is coming to an end, we have to review the work delivered and get feedback from the Product Owner. The validation of the stakeholders does not wait for this revision. We use videos, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), for the stakeholders to approve asynchronously during the sprint. We try to identify the main problems and clarify the high-level plan for the next iteration. We also keep an eye on the team’s efficiency metrics.
In essence, it is the only meeting that needs an agile team to improve the way they work. It values two of the key principles of Scrum: self-inspection and adaptability. In just over an hour, the team reviews the process of the last iteration(s), trying to look for improvement areas and necessary actions so that the next Sprint is always better than the previous one.
Sometimes we may think that the time spent reflecting on work is excessive, but it is the only way to continuously improve.
Want to join us?
If you like what you heard so far, we are always looking for a passionate individual to join our Scrum teams. Have a look at our Careers site and see you soon!