Sunday, October 30, 2005

Scrum Puzzlement

After the first week at my new client, I have a burning desire to learn more about the Scrum world and apply it to the client. I found out that Yahoo Groups has a group called 'scrumdevelopment', and I have aggregated their feeds to RSSBandit.

I admit that I am new to Scrum. As a development manager, I had always practiced an XP-style of development. Fast iterations, constant feedback, daily meetings, etc. But never the kind of communistic approach that Scrum encourages.

There are two things that I heard about Scrum before coming to Finetix.

1) Scrum is having a hard time being adopted by Wall Street companies.
2) Scrum is much better suited to new development than to enhancing an existing project.

There are two reasons why I see an issue with Scrum and Wall Street companies. First, the inability to commit a team to a Scrum without distractions from anyone outside the team. It is difficult to dislodge a team from attending to daily production problems. It is difficult to tell a revenue-producing trader to leave a team alone while they are in the midst of a sprint. It is hard to tell a team member to skip all of the various classes that they are signed up for.

The second reason is more important. In case you have not heard, Wall Street gives amazing bonuses. And, bonuses are usually ties to individual accomplishments. The tenure of a developer at a Wall Street company is a relatively short stay, and you had better believe that a developer wants to load a resume up with as much individualism as possible.

As far as the issue of using Scrum for existing projects, how do you dislodge a team from support issues on the existing product? How can you have them concentrate on new development when a trader is calling you, screaming about a feature that is broken?

One nice thing is that our manager is very enthusiastic about Scrum. It has worked nicely for a Finetix team in London, but they have been doing new development.

I have a lot to learn about Scrum. The people at Finetix will be amazingly useful in helping adapt to this new way of thinking. I am all ears! And, if it is successful with my project, then perhaps it can be used on my wife's project as well, where she has run into the exact scenario as I have with my new client.

©2005 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved

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