Yesterday I took another wander through the web and found a short article named “understanding Scrum” at the pm-blog.com. Dr. Stefan Hagen has linked a really good presentation named The Zen of Scrum by Jurgen Appelo which is available on Slideshare.net. This presentation is a really good start to get an idea of Scrum. Some of you may heard about it, some may not.
Scrum is an iterative, incremental methodology for project management often seen in agile software development.
Although Scrum was intended for management of software development projects, it can be used to run software maintenance teams, or as a general project/program management approach.
By clicking through the presentation I was remembering my first contact with Scrum. So I decided to write this little blog entry.
Before I’ve started at AdScale I read a lot of stuff about Scrum and agile project management methods, but I was always caught in the typical “waterfall” process. Unfortunately I’d never had the chance to set up any working agile processes as employee in my former company. Advice: Everyone should be committed to break the mould of old behaviors. I would say there was no ill will intended but we’ve never made it to implement a new methodology to get our software development projects done.
That changed in February 2008 when I have started to work at AdScale. From the CTO, my colleague and shining example Manfred Friedrich, I heard that there was a scrum process basically established but – same story – it was more or less ignored by the business team. No offense guys! Haha! I’m just talking about the old times. Now everyone at AdScale is committed to our agile project processes even though some people might wish there would be another approach of getting the things done.
First I might have to explain the constellation we have since the beginning at AdScale. There is the headquarter in Munich, Germany, which is running the whole business (product owner) and the AdScale Labs, our development team (scrum masters and the teams), is located in ChristChurch, so that is far, far away on an island named “The South Island” of New Zealand. Distance between the teams: more than 18.500 km and a time difference between 10 and 12 hours. Yeah. Sounds weird? It is. Hilarious. How this constellation was born is a complete other story.
If you are familiar with the Scrum methodology you may now thinking about the common stuff like daily scrum meetings, task boards and what ever. Forget it. Over such a distance there is no way to stick the teams closely enough together, but… you can try. We tried it and we found a way – over the years – to establish our agile processes which serves its purpose. I would lie if I say that the process is “finalized” yet, because from time to time it is mandatory to review the whole process and initiate some slight modifications. All in all it works really good for us and often an outstanding person is wondering how we manage it to get the things done (so fast)… given that the teams are so far away from each other.
Actually we are working with two product owners (product developer) in Munich and two scrum masters and four teams, including the “product team”, the “adserver team”, the “database team” and the “quality assurance team”, in ChristChurch. Meanwhile we are able to deploy every two to three weeks a feature/improvement set which is boosting and increasing our business or helps our customers to use the AdScale platform for their personal goals. The remarkable speed and the quality is based on every single team member. Within two years we managed it to built germany’s biggest marketplace for online advertising and I’m proud to be a part of the team which made it happen.
If you are interested in the way we work and what its all about, than please let me know. Maybe there are some suggestions you could use for your business. Maybe there are some interesting stories how you achieve to work with your teams located in different countries and time zones. Let me know by a comment. Thanks.