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Ative at Work

Implementing Scrum in the Enterprise - Agile 2007 Day Four

Ken Schwaber has been working on enterprise-wide Scrum implementations recently. In his session today he shared his experiences and offered a roadmap for the process.

First off all there is no "Enterprise Scrum" - it is the same simple, empirical framework for developing complex systems that is applied everywhere rather than just in software development.

This means that even senior management will also be working iteratively with a backlog and showing demonstrable results at the end of every iteration. This in turn, means radical transparency through the whole organisation at all levels.

In Schwaber's experience the enterprise-wide roll-out of Scrum take some time. He offered the case of a 1000-developer organisation. Here, they spent six months on the roll-out (training everybody in the Scrum practices) and after that 3-5 years to implement it make it stick by iteratively removing the impediments to producing quality software in the organisation. As he said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast", so this phase is all about changing people's habits and getting the waste out of the system. During this implementation a senior management executive Scrum team is in place using Scrum to deal with the impediments and demonstrably solve the top issues as they become visible during the transition.

There is no "Done" - once the Scrum framework is implemented the organisation is in a state of continuous improvement, reflecting on its changing environment and evolving to stay ahead of the game.

He offered this road-map:

First, do a pilot project to learn the Scrum basics, then try Scrum on the most challenging, critical project in the organisation to make a proven case for everybody that is works.

Then do the enterprise roll-out. This is where it becomes top-down and is implemented at all levels.

Here is how the executive team works:

First, create a backlog of what is wrong today - what is in the way of developing quality software (eg. "we have too many projects", "we don't integrate often so we have no visible status", "we produce too many lose ends"). Then commit to fixing it and use the Scrum process to fix it - first things first. Senior management has to demonstrably fix the top issue or issues in one iteration. Then attack the next top one, etc. etc.

Meanwhile, the Scrum training for the entire organisation starts. This is the roll-out.

For all the work, the Scrum team (max 9 people) is the basic building block, and Scrum-of-Scrums is use for hierarchical breakdown of the organisation.

The benefits is a very visible status in the entire organisation, that it is all working from a single backlog and aligned with creating business value rather than some arbitrary and sometimes detrimental performance metrics (Jim Highsmith did a talk on agile performance management at the conference with some very good findings on this topic). There will be a very simple and open control structure encouraging an open environment over command and control - no need for additional committees and boards to control things at an often too late time.

Published aug 17 2007, 10:06 by Martin Jul
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About Martin Jul

Building better software faster is Martin's mission. He is a partner in Ative, and helps development teams implement lean/agile software development and improve their craftmanship teaching hands-on development practises such as iterative design and test-first. He is known to be a hardliner on quality and likes to get things done-done.
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