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

In agile development there are many different approaches just like in java’s GUI frameworks. Java has AWR, Swing, SWT and many more GUIs to use. Each framework provides a slightly different feature set to the developer, but each one achieves the same goal, adding a GUI interface to a Java program. The different Methodologies in Agile like the ones noted in “Agile for Dummies” by Scott W. Ambler and Matthew Holitza (2012)are: Extreme Programing (XP), Lean Programing, Kaban, Unified Process (UP), Agile Modeling and Scrum(pp. 25-30). Ambler and Matthews have stated “Scrum is the most popular approach to agile software development.”(p. 25), to look into why Scrum is popular we must look at two aspects of Agile Scrum development. The team organization and uses of backlogs in Scrum style development.

The team dynamic in Scrum is a key principle of the agile method. The team members must share ideas with one another. By sharing ideas the project can evolve and helps to clear up development issues. In the journal article “People Factors in Agile Software Development and Project Management” written by Vikash Lalsing, Somveer Kishnah and Sameerch and Pudaruth (2012), observed three teams developing with a scrum methodology. Lalsing, Kishnah and Pudaruth’s made notes about how the teams were composed. Each team had people with specialization ranging from programming skills to business skill. The teams also had project leaders in charge of organizing the project teams and project managers that handle issues surrounding the scope of the team. The whole team had as simple work order the managers dealt with budget type issues for the team. Project leaders would spread information across the team effectively and so the rest of the team only had to worry about the project issues at hand (pp. 124-134). This way of handling the team’s management clears members of the team dedicated to building the core product to focus on their tasks. The question now is how is all this information shared to all the different levels of the team.

In scrum, the teams use a method of collecting thoughts in a commonplace called Backlogging.Backlogging allows teams to clearly lay out a plan of goal the team has decided on completing in a given scrum sprint. The photo “Task board” by Logan Ingalls (2010) is an example of a physical backlog.

Taken by Logan Ingalls, December 14, 2010

Taken by Logan Ingalls, December 14, 2010

Backlogs do not have to be physical, but they do have to represent user stories, to do items, active tasks and completed tasks. In the presentation “Estimation in Agile Projects” given by Dr. Christoph Steindl and Pål Krogdahl (2005), they point out that the idea of a backlog is to help organize the work flow of a project. Dr.Steindl andKrogdahl emphasize the importance of the team as a whole to organize the backlog as they are the ones who will have to implement anything they put into the backlog. While the team is working on any given sprint backlog only the team should be able to modify any part of the log as they can see issues as they come up (pp.12-15). If  an outsider like the client, changes part of the backlog as team is working on completing tasks, this can affect the overall production schedule. So it is important that teams keep a clean backlog as it is the key to the project staying on track.

Agile teams that have project managers, project leaders, core team members and follow a backlog stay on a development schedule is what makes scrum driven production one of the most used agile strategies.

 

 

References

Ambler, S. & Holitza, M. (2012). Choosing an Agile Approach. In Agile for Dummies (IBM ed., p. 74). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Ingalls, L. (2010) Task Board [Online Image] Retrieved September 21, 2014 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/plutor/5260265039/

Lalsing, V. , Kishnah, S. , & Pudaruth, S. (2012). PEOPLE FACTORS IN AGILE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT. International Journal of Software Engineering & Application, 3(1), 117-137. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from http://airccse.org/journal/ijsea/papers/3112ijsea09.pdf

Steindl, C. & Krogdahl, P. (2005) Estimation in Agile Projects [PDF] Retrieved September 20, 2014 from http://cf.agilealliance.org/articles/system/article/file/1421/file.pdf

Links

Agile Manifesto

12 principles of Agile

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One thought on “The Agile Team and what is a Backlog? What are they for and why are they important?

  1. First, I liked how the picture was actually relevant to what was being discussed. I show a quick example of something in my blog but it is not as seamless as yours. Just looking at the structure of your blog I commend you and how the text flows next to the image with either being distorted. Again, in my blog my images do not set well next to the text. They are at war with each other and I am not sure how I can fix it. Concerning the information it was simple enough to understand and made good use of quotes to back up what you were saying.

    Like

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