Ivar Jacobson International has released a starter pack of agile practice cards that aid team-based software development by ensuring that core agile team practices are transparent and effective. Each practice contains a small number of cards that provide useful, structured advice on how to apply the practice.
In many organizations, arguments rage between software development "experts" and teams on which process framework is best – e.g. Extreme Programming (XP) versus Scrum versus Kanban. Even though agile principles are clear that "no one should tell the team how to do their work", in practice they are often told "Do Scrum" or "No, don't do Scrum, do Kanban!". The Agile Essentials eliminates these damaging and distracting conflicts by extracting the useful practice guidance from XP, Scrum, Kanban and other popular agile approaches, and presents it as a useful and usable set of practice cards that development teams can freely select, combine and adapt to help them work effectively as a team.
The cards can help teams by:
- Ensuring a team's way-of-working is clear and transparent to the team and their stakeholders
- Ensuring all the key bases are covered – reducing the risk of nasty late surprises
- Reducing time spent on debating or explaining the basics of agile practices
- Enabling continuity and sustained capability improvement even as people join and leave the organization.
These cards are unique as they were built using the OMG approved SEMAT standard: Essence. Essence defines the smallest set of concepts that are common to all software projects, aiming to help teams assess the health of their software endeavor and to improve their way of working."
The seven practices included in the deck of poker-sized playing cards cover key aspects of agile team development including:
- Product Ownership Essentials – own, evolve and communicate the product vision and guide the evolution of the product to achieve the vision
- Product Backlog Essentials – capture what the users of a software system want it to do as a priority-ranked list of independently buildable items
- Agile Teaming Essentials – a self-organizing team maximizes its performance by using a highly collaborative teaming approach
- Daily Stand-up Essentials – use a short, daily, whole-team meeting to reaffirm delivery focus, assess progress, agree work plans and action the removal of impediments to progress
- Agile Development Essentials – add value to a product by incrementally extending it while ensuring it remains usable, releasable and maintainable
- Agile Retrospective Essentials – make incremental improvements to the way of working through regularly repeated retrospectives
- Agile Timeboxing Essentials – progress the work as a series of focused timeboxes, and assess and re-plan the work at the end of each timebox.
More information, including a video showing how to use the cards can be found at http://www.ivarjacobson.com/agile_essentials/