Saturday, June 07, 2008

Scrum works with ScrumWorks

We recently decided to adpot a new flavor of agile methodology called Scrum.

We choose scrum as we are a small team with rapidly changing requirements and in need of involving the product owner heavily in our decisions. The idea is that by using this methodology we will be running all the time (in the characteristic sprints) instead of being in the relaxed until we get to a deadline mode ;)

There were two tools that we evaluated: Scrumworks and scrumdesk. We liked scrumdesk a lot, graphically it is superior, although it ended up not being that easy to use. Support was superb (thanks Dusan!). The only thing that ended up using Scrumworks was that in Scrumdesk the tasks inside stories could not be assigned to each particular resource in the team, they needed to be checked out by the person that would take care of it. I guess the reason we couldn't use it is because we were not doing 100% scrum, and our minimum need for planning was already too much for the tool.

Scrumworks was easier to use, although not nicer. It provided a little more flexibility in assigning resources. If it would have been all my choice, I probably would have adjusted more to the original methodology idea and would have sticked with Scrumdesk.

I was very surprised that we could not find an ASP solution. Both solutions we checked were installable solutions. I guess if you're a small company it might be harder to provide ASP trials and trat might be a reason for this lack of web tools in the area.


Unknown said...

Hi Cecilia,

just to mention that ScrumDesk task can be assigned by dragging a user picture on the task.

Switch a story card to Tasks view and drag user from a SideView. You can see it in screencast.


Dusan Kocurek
ScrumDesk product manager

Cecilia Abadie said...

Hey Dusan,

Thanks for your answer here and by email as well. Actually your personal answer was so cool and complete that I decided to post it in here:

"Assigning users
ScrumDesk task can be assigned also by dragging a user picture on the task. Switch a story card to Tasks view and drag user from a SideView. You can see it in screencast.

You are right, that ScrumDesk miss user assignment in a detail view. Your evaluation shows us that many users likes to work with software with old good habits (combo boxes with users...). We are trying to make our product more in „draggable“ manner. But now, we are thinking about our user experience.

Scrum and our experience
In many cases we have a problem with our Scrum implementation. This is easy to explain for our Slovak customers. Here we can explain teams on-site, eyes to eyes. We were surprised that many corporations ,we are working with (for example Siemens), have payed for Scrum Masters and product owners certification (1500 Euro). But they just says „WE ARE DOING SCRUM“. They don’t know how to do it.

The hardest part is to change mind in practice. From „central management“ to self-managed teams. Part of this is „I, as a manager, have to assign task to developer“. In this case I’m often talking about my experience in COOPEX Soft company. This company is an author of the national crises management information system in Slovak Republic. To say true, I were project manager for this product. I do this for a 6 years. Then I read about Scrum. I started my effort to change project management style. Scrum was best choice for me. I started to evaluate many of tools (ScrumWorks, Rally Dev, Version One, Mingle, .....). But I miss fluidity of the cards on the board. So I leave COOPEX Soft and try to make new product.

COOPEX Soft teams (20 people, developers and testers) were using ScrumDesk daily for a one year before we published ScrumDesk as a stand alone product. This one year was a time when developers and customers learned Scrum. In a fact, the hardest part of this process was first 2 months.

I have been surprised that hardest was „As a developer, I can choose my task.“ For many developers it was not understandable.
They asks „ How can I know if I‘m able to develop this task? How can I know how long it will took to complete it? Dusan, you are project manager. YOU KNOW HOW TO DO THIS STUFF! You have an experience, you know how to estimate.“

I did not understand. Why they ask me such questions? „I’m giving you a freedom! I believe in all of you! Choose work that you like. Choose tasks that you are able to complete. If you can, choose technologies that you want learn. Choose your colleague that will help you. My intention is to get the product completed on time and the budget. But this freedom will something cost you too. You are responsible for status. It will be your, your colleagues and whole company shame if you will not get the product completed on a time and budget.„ These are reasons why developers can self-assign tasks in a ScrumDesk.

During a first month the office was like a hive. They all were discussing stories, task, estimation, technologies, results. Product owner and COOPEXSoft management were surprised. They never meet such high development efficiency.

I‘m thinking about this story everytime when some new company needs our help with a Scrum implementation. In some of an agile book (sorry I don’t remember it yet) you can read that you have to start Scrum not in small, new project, but in your main project. You have to start with all Scrum techniques, not just few of them. Our experience is the same. Only then you will hear bee‘s bzzzzz in your office, only then you can measure 70% higher effectiveness.

This story is based on my experience with Slovak developers. There can be big cultural differences in understanding of such a freedom. "

I think you're going right to the point. The Scrum methodology is very cool but it does require a total change in mindset. We'll report how it all develops for us soon ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Cecilia,

if you are still interested in supporting tools for Scrum, you should try Agilo for Scrum. It's an open source tool, web based and easy to use.


Anonymous said...

VersionOne ( has a hosted solution or an installable solution. It uses ASP as well.

Scrum Process said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. Thank u.

Unknown said...

Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.
Scrum Process