I fell upon this article on the Methods & Tools website, a free software development magazine on software development and software engineering. The author is Anna Forss. She lives in Sweden, and her English is not perfect, but the article’s content is so strong, it’s worth the read. I recommend this article to anyone who wants to get a feel for what Scrum is, especially if you’re not a Software person.
The article starts out with an overview of the heart of Scrum, and how it doesn’t tell you how to develop your software per se. It tells you how to organize and communicate, but it doesn’t cover anything like unit testing or pair programming. You can combine Scrum with other practices effectively.
The main part of the article is about the roles people play in Scrum, in particular the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. Anna is a Product Owner (she doesn’t do any Software Engineering herself), and this part of the article implores the non-Software people in Scrum-using companies to take the time to learn it better, so they can be more effective in interfacing with the developers. Since I travel mostly with other Software Engineers, I hadn’t really heard about Scrum from the other side very much, and she makes a strong case for selecting the people to fill these two roles very carefully. A good Scrum team can get by with an OK Scrum Master, but a Product Owner that doesn’t do their job right will surely kill a project. She also addresses why the two roles shouldn’t be filled by the same people.
Anna Forss has a blog here (I almost want to publish some articles as RDF Triples). Her own blog has some great posts, like this one on The Business Value Of Boring Stuff and What Can We Learn From Coffee?. She’s also the author of Confessions of a Serial Product Owner. My only complaint is that her blog is on Windows Live, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get a Windows Live ID so I can post comments on her blog or subscribe to it.