I’m at Microsoft TechEd in New Orleans. I came to present about the .NET version of Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Developer program at a breakout session. I’ll be co-presenting with Richard Hundhausen of Accentient, the program’s .NET partner. I also came to meet with the Microsoft Visual Studio and ALM marketing and product groups. They are officially announcing the new Microsoft Scrum process template for Visual Studio 2010. It is a complete and official Microsoft offering. This is great news, because for years people have tried to figure out whether the Microsoft Agile process template was Scrum or not and, if it wasn’t Scrum, what it was.
I also met with a number of Microsoft MVPs and conference attendees who are using Scrum. They all report the same problem: Their increments are not “done” at the end of a Sprint. In Scrum, “done” means no more work remaining, with completed work potentially shippable. Yet almost every Scrum user has a significant amount of undone work at the end of every Sprint. This kills transparency, because the product owner and stakeholders have no idea what is really done and undone, and when the release or project is likely to be complete. Just like waterfall. It’s very hard to be Agile if you don’t know where you are, if you are opaque. TechEd attendees have confirmed my belief that this problem is widespread and that it may limit the utility and value of Scrum and even of Agile.
I’m going to a session on Kanban and Scrum this afternoon. As if people didn’t have enough problem using Scrum, folks are now upping the ante by throwing in Kanban. Great idea if you are a consultant attempting to differentiate your services. Bad idea if you are struggling to get an increment “done.” I’ve heard the Kanban approach lets you end a Sprint early if you are done with what you selected in the Sprint Planning meeting. Boy, that will sure ruin the regularlity and predictability of Scrum. It is like ending a monthly sales cycle when you hit the sales quota. I’m looking forward to hearing what folks have to say about it in this afternoon’s session.