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OOP-2010: Can Scrum work in Germany?

posted Jan 26, 2010, 4:43 AM by Marcel Baumann   [ updated Feb 24, 2010, 6:09 AM ]
I had a talk at the last OOP and presented how Scrum approach can be used in FDA regulated projects. Lessons learnt were presented. The attendees were very active and challenged me how exactly we did it. They also check if my understanding of FDA was good enough. It was a rewarding experience.
During lunch and in the evening I had quite a few discussions with people attending the conference. 

Scrum approach is well known and companies have started to use the Scrum approach to develop software projects. Discussing with people during the OOP 2010 in München I got the impression two major groups of experience with Scrum exist in Germany and probably also in Switzerland.
  • Teams have tried hard to use Scrum in projects. They learned Scrum, the Scrum master role, the product owner role, self organizing teams, started to use TDD, continuous integration and refactoring. The software developers started to like the approach. As usual problems started to show up in the project, people started to revert to their old way of doing things. Software developers only worked on a specific part of the application, quality was traded against timelines, managers wanted again command and control structures. After one year the organization stated they will do projects with the company own agile approach and no more use external methods such as Scrum to reflect the internal specifics of the company. In other words they want to work as before and use the word agile for marketing purposes.
  • Teams have tried hard to use Scrum in projects. They learned Scrum, the Scrum master role, the product owner role, self organizing teams, started to use TDD, continuous integration and refactoring. The software developers started to like the approach. As usual problems started to show up in the project, the team together with the management fought to solve the problems, adapt the processes to agility and define interfaces to more traditional departments. Management learned to love coaching and mentoring; they learned to trust the teams and the commitments. After two years the organization stated they will do all projects with Scrum and reengineer some company wide processes to be more reactive and agile. In other words they work agile and continuously improve their processes.
The thing that bothers me quite a lot is the first story was told more often than the second one. In my actual company we are now reaching the two years cycle of the second story. It was quite a fight to convince middle management that Scrum approach is successful. The people I met at the conference also struggled during this two years. 

After the OOP 2010 I am certain of one thing. We will have a lot of consulting in the next years to convince the hurt companies of story one to try again Scrum and agile approaches.  But they have no choice. All the new engineers graduating now want to develop using agile methods. They will prefer agile companies and avoid the other ones. And they are smart enough to discover if a company does agile or just pretend it. 

So it could be that in a few years being agile will be a competitive advantage when you want to hire the smart developers. Want do you think?
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Marcel Baumann,
Feb 10, 2010, 11:55 AM
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