The Agile Team and what is a Backlog? What are they for and why are they important?

The Agile Team

Software development is a team effort. An agile team focuses on utilizing everyone’s individual strengths to collaborate and grow an even better product. According to Blackburn and Highsmith, “A project is built from people having differing personalities and differing skills… The people, environment, and organizational culture all influence one another” (Blackburn and Highsmith, 2001, p. 133). Not every person is the same and has their own set of unique personalities. This is what agile thrives on and ultimately creates a more polished product.

A large difference between agile and other team development methods (not just computer technology, but business and other fields also), is that agile focuses on members continually working together in person. “The agile team works to place people physically closer, replace documents with talking in person and at whiteboards, and improve the team’s amicability” (Blackburn and Highsmith, 2001, p.131).

This team effort is comprised of many different roles. The most important of these roles include the product owner and the Scrum master. As we have gone over before, the product owner is the primary stakeholder. They create the user stories, and is responsible for input in the product backlog. The scrum master is similar to, in business terms, a product manager. They are the main link between the product owner and the agile teams. Their primary objective is to make sure everything is running smoothly with the agile team, and do everything within their power to facilitate team progress. The agile manifesto says it best, “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done” (Beck et. al., 2009, p. 6).

 

The Product Backlog

Scrum Task Board

Figure 1

A product backlog (Figure 1) is a collection of ideas that the stakeholders desire in the final product. However, not everything can be materialized, so the team looks through the backlog to see what can be done. Not everything is worked on at the same time. This is when the team utilizes Sprints to tackle smaller groups of problems. These backlogs are useful for progression, as teams as can create burndown charts. These charts track how much work still needs to be done and time. By utilizing these charts, the teams can estimate when the product will be finished and whether it will be done before the deadline. Refer to Figure 2 on an example of how these charts work. The actual burndown indicates actual progress, whereas the blue indicate the ideal progress. The numbers indicate how many hours of workload are left.

Figure 2

 

By using a burndown chart, agile members can figure out what in the backlog is taking up a lot of time to complete and needs to be focused on.

 

 

 

Beck, K., Beedle, M., Van Bennekum, A., Cockburn, A., Cunningham, W., Fowler, M., … & Thomas, D. (2001). Manifesto for agile software development. Retrieved from http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/cis/sfleisher/Chapter_03_sim.pdf

Cockburn, A., & Highsmith, J. (2001). Agile software development: The people factor. Computer, 34(11), 131-133. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=963450

Ingalls, L. (2010). Scrum task board. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons . Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scrum_task_board.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Scrum_task_board.jpg

TechBudha. Create a burn down chart using Excel in less than 5 min. Retrieved from http://www.techbudha.com/2012/09/create-burn-down-chart-using-excel-in.html.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Aidan I agree that the team is comprised of unique personalities. I liked the burn down chart, which shows the differences between the reality and the ideal progress. Indeed, the scrum is scheduled, based on people’s actual progresses, aside from the ideal progress. That’s also the reason why the teamwork is most needed to adjust the work, according to people’s schedules. If you can add a link where we can create the burn down chart (hopefully it’s free lol) and integrate that into our scrum meetings that will be awesome!

    Like

  2. Hi Aidan, you got a well description of what the backlog is but the block seem a little boring. The first thing i do when I read a block is to scroll down and see if i can find a very descriptive image. If I can get a good idea of the topic based on the picture, I will definitely read the blog. The general content is well organized and well describe, it just need a little bit of polish in the picture, online there is a lot of expressive picture on the topic. I hope it help.Thanks.

    Like

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