Saturday, 31 March 2018


Even though I’ve read plenty of great books centered around Agile, eXtreme Programming, etc. over the years, it’s always been difficult to view them as anything other than idealized pie-in-the-sky philosophies… something used at some magical startups or whatever, but not really anything us ‘mere mortal’ developers would ever get involved with. Even when I talk with developers at companies who publicly declare themselves as using Scrum, Agile, etc., a lot of the time the people down in the trenches mention it being a bit different…

Lately I’ve been learning a lot more about Scrum. Not so much because Scrum is inherently better than Agile… more like that’s what some projects in VSTS were already using as a template, so I figured that I had might as well make another attempt at delving into the details on it.

As much as I had expected early on to find a reason to dismiss it, there’s actually a lot in it that I love. Using the sprints to make minimum-viable products at a fairly predictable cadence sounds awesome to me and many of the features in VSTS make that very easy to do.

I was kind of surprised that the default Scrum template didn’t have a field for how long a task took (or even how long you thought it would take…) and just had a field for how much work remains. That was a bit odd. I’m a MASSIVE fan of Joel Spolsky in general, but I especially liked a post he did over a decade ago called Evidence Based Scheduling. (If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out!) While I don’t even want to consider how much time I’d need to spend on creating a similar Monte Carlo simulator for possible ship dates based on historical velocities, I do see value in tracking that information for if/when I’m ever actually able to do that sort of analysis…

I don’t work on any projects right now that actively adhere to Scrum, so a lot of this still feels a bit academic… but I think any changes I’m able to implement within existing projects that can benefit from a Scrum-like or Scrum-ish approach, it’s at least a step in the right direction. And, maybe one day I’ll get certified as a Scrum Master (though, to be honest, it strikes me a bit too much ‘fluff’ for something I’d be into).