Yesterday marked my 5 year full time anniversary at gap intelligence. Over this time, I have changed a lot and so has gap intelligence. For me, the biggest changes at gap have come in the form of our development team. When I started, I was a part of DataOps, working away in Excel every day while our developers abroad worked and delivered us our much needed data overnight; they were my data fairies. We still have our awesome data fairies (developers) but the development team has expanded in numbers and has drastically changed how we develop. I have switched roles as well and am a Product Owner at gap intelligence, working day in, day out with our awesome dev team. A huge perk of Agile Scrum Software Development is that value is continuously provided to the business. You might ask, "how is that possible?". A big part of delivering value and Scrum at gap is constant communication facilited through Scrum Ceremonies. During each sprint we have the following ceremonies to keep the team up-to-date on business needs and keep the users and stakeholders informed on feature progress.
Every morning the team meets to quickly answer the following three questions:
- What did you work on yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- Do you have any blockers?
It's called a standup because the team stands the whole time, encouraging the meeting to be speedy as it is time-boxed to 15 minutes. We have also incorporated a "16th minute" that the team can use to discuss problems or concerns over the current sprint.
The Product Backlog is a prioritized list of user stories that describe what needs to be built and why. The team meets weekly to groom and size newly added user stories. During the Backlog Grooming the team discusses acceptance criteria, desired functionality, and sizes the story. Using the fibonacci sequence the team must come to a consensus around how much effort is required to complete the ticket. Sizing estimates range from 10 minutes to 1 week worth of time. After the stories are sized, the Product Owner is responsible for prioritizing the backlog to align with business needs.
Here at gap, we work in 2 week sprints which means, we have Sprint Plannings every other week. The point of Sprint Planning is for the team to meet and agree upon what will be delivered over the next two weeks. After Sprint Planning is complete it is up to the team to self organize and ensure that all sprint commits are completed and ready to demonstrate within the two week sprint time frame.
Image Credit: norex.net
After the two week Sprint is complete, the team must demo and show what they have completed during the previous sprint. Anyone is welcome to attend the demo and watch the developers showcase what they have been working on. This is one of my favorite Scrum ceremonies as you get to see the User Stories come to life and we also bring delicious breakfast treats or drink to enjoy during the early morning meeting!
Once the demo for the previous sprint is completed, the team jumps right into the Retrospective. During the Retrospective the team discusses what went well, what didn't go well, how much time each person spent on prod support, and who deserves "mad props" for their work during the sprint that just finished. We try to continue to build on what went well and pick at least one thing that didn't go well to focus on improving for the next Sprint.
A big focus of Agile Scrum is continuous delivery of value and these Scrum ceremonies are a critical part of ensuring the team does just that. From the quick Daily Standup to the Retrospective, the team is able to focus on getting all of their work done during the Sprint while also making sure it aligns with the ever changing business needs. The ceremonies encourage collaboration, teamwork, and personal and team accountability all the while delivering value to the business and it's customers.