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94 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2009
I purchased the book hoping it would provide real content about the rules and practices of Scrum. Instead, the author appears intent upon using the book to drive business to his Scrum certification business. He touts platitudes about "the rules of Scrum", but provides little substance. Outside of the basics -- that can be learned by simply searching for "Scrum" in a search engine -- the book offers little insight into how Scrum Masters conduct themselves differently than Project Managers. If you're looking for valuable insight into Scrum, skip this book. It was a waste of my money. One last gripe: The author wastes no opportunity to slam traditional Project Managers and projects run under the procedures of non-agile methodologies. Clearly, he has never worked for a good technical Project Manager on a well-run project. Contrary to his opinion, both do exist.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2008
This book is a sales pitch for agile project management, not a book on how to use it. There is chapter after chapter with the same format. 1) describe long list of problems company has, 2) implement agile 3) magic happens. There is a small amount of information on agile and how to use it.
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68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2005
The book was an easy read and provided a fair but light treatment of Scrum. The numerous examples provide a good illustration of some of the key concepts of the method and help in better understanding implementation issues and lessons learned. This being said, a complete understanding of Scrum requires additional reading above and beyond this book, and most importantly a good solid (if not many) attempt at applying it in the real world. For individuals interested in Scrum, I would also recommend a very active discussion group to which the book's author and many other Scrum aficionados contribute regularly: [...]
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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2004
Our organization recently implemented Scrum, and although the
Beedle/Schwaber book was great to get us off the ground on Scrum
theory, we immediately had many questions once we actually tried to implement it in real life projects. I agree with the notion that Scrum is conceptually easy to understand, but actually quite complex to implement correctly. The scrum forum has been helpful, but we really needed a cohesive reference of situational problems. The APMWS book really hit the nail on the head and delivered what we needed the most: a practical guide to Scrum with anecdotes and "what happens if..." situations from real world Scrum implementations. This came just in time for us, and we are feeling more confident for our upcoming certification class.
The appendices in the back are also very helpful. The "Rules"
appendix is perfect as a quick introduction to Scrum for new Team
members and Product Owners. It's actually quite detailed for being such a short appendix.
Also, for newbies the three main Roles are very nicely explained. We had some misconceptions that were immediately addressed by this book.
Anyway, from a Scrum newbie that is faced with implementation issues, thanks to Ken for putting together a real world implementation guide.
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60 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2004
Agile Project Management with Scrum is a wonderful book. The author, Ken Schwaber (one of the originators of the Scrum process), informs us through case studies and anecdotes. If you like learning by example, this book is for you. Scrum is quite likely the best starting point for most companies interested in pursuing an agile development process. The readability and excellent anecdotes in this book make it a fantastic starting point for any journey into agile development.
I loved seeing how Schwaber applied Scrum in many varying situations. Rather than introducing each case study one at a time, the book is organized around key areas. Multiple anecdotes are given for each key area. Throughout each chapter, Schwaber brings the anecdotes together in Lessons Learned sections and the chapters conclude by helping point out the conclusions we learn to draw from the anecdotes.
I appreciated that Schwaber was not shy about mentioning projects that didn't go perfectly-including one he got fired from for being too zealous in his role of sheepdog guarding his flock of developers.
Although this book is ostensibly about software development, Scrum has its roots in general new product development and can (and has been) applied to a wide variety of development projects. A problem with a process like Scrum is that it is best learned by "feeling it" rather than being told about it. There are many subtle differences between Scrum and a more command-and-control management process. Learning Scrum by reading a book filled with examples like this is the best way to get the feel for how to use it on your own projects.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Reading this book won't turn you into a ScrumMaster- only experience with a few projects will do that- but this book really has all the information you need to start to implement the Scrum agile methodology in your company or department.

I've been trained in two seperate PMI-certified methodologies, and both have been complete failures in my organizations. The response, of course, has been to bring in a third methodology. The real reason for the failures has been that traditional project managment as it is usually practiced is designed to fail. It encourages the creation of fictions that live a seperate existence form the actual project, with due dates dictated from above, and project schedules fudged to meet due dates rather than actual resources. In my own organization, we had a typical example of what happens in traditional "waterfall" development: A massive project to replace our main administrative system was ticking towards a June delivery (according to the detailed MS Project charts) and then, 30 days prior to delivery, it was announced that the delivery date had been pushed back an entire year!

This can't happen with Scrum. Scrum reflects what's really happening in a project, and it encourages incremental development- prioritizing requirements, and delivering them in their order of need, instead of trying to deliver a complete project with every single componant at a certain date. It's also one of the least onerous of methodologies. As a Scrum Master friend notes, "It's the simplest methodology you can implement that will actually deliver results".

It does requrie some changes in how things are done in the traditional organizations. Scrum project managers don't assign tasks and track performance on each task; instead, they assign goals and the programmers report on progress and any difficulties they many encounter. There's a daily stand-up review to report on progress and roadblocks and monthly reviews to reprioritize and review changes in scope. The result is that the project continually is driven by the needs of the customer as they evolve, and not by arbitrary goals in the distant future.

If I've piqued your interest in Scrum at all, get a copy of this book. Better yet, order copies for all your team members, too.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2007
When co-workers see this book on my office shelf, I inevitably get one of two reactions. The most common one is "Do you really want to take advice on project management from Microsoft?" The answer is probably not, but this book was written by the co-creator of SCRUM, and published by Microsoft press, so it's not exactly a recipe-book from Redmond.

The second reaction I get is "I was at a company/on a project/reported to a boss who used SCRUM and it worked really well." After reading several books on the subject and applying the lessons, I can see why. SCRUM has been the most useful project management method I've tried so far on my software development projects.

Since the goal of traditional project management is to standardize a known process to produce a required result, it has always had problems when applied to the creative process of producing software. This problem is only multiplied when the software to be produced is web based and consumer oriented, throwing a multitude of marketing and usability issues into the mix, making the desired end product as uncertain as the process. SCRUM is an ingenious solution to this problem; instead of trying fruitlessly to predict the future in the form of a project schedule, SCRUM emphasizes development as a continuous process that can be controlled using the same empirical feedback mechanisms of visibility, feedback, and adaptation that are already used to good effect in the manufacturing industry.

In this view, the team is a machine that constantly produces features as output. That output is inspected by end users, who then provide feedback, which is then incorporated into the next round of development. The book details the organizational roles and responsibilities needed to set up this machine and the processes to keep it running.

I found this book to be considerably more reader friendly than the original book by Schwaber detailing SCRUM. (Agile Software Development with SCRUM The emphasis on case studies rather than theoretical discussions certainly helps keep the discussion grounded, but more than that the text is more coherent and better written. Whether this is the effect of more experience or a better editor is hard to tell.

The three roles of SCRUM are the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Team. The first two are single person managerial roles that are responsible for requirements definition and maintaining the process. The Team, however, consists of everyone who is assigned to do work exclusively for the project, and in Schwaber's conception it is to be completely self-managed. Now that I have gained some experience using SCRUM, I have to say that this is both the most challenging aspect of the process.

SCRUM depends on the Team effectively taking control of the product and committing themselves to delivering shippable features on a regular basis. To successfully introduce SCRUM engineers and other creative people have to be convinced that not only do they have the power to make decisions, but that it will be worth their time and effort to do so. Much of the process documented here- 30 day sprints, defined times for feedback, and so on- seem to exist to help insulate the team from those who would interfere with their control. But getting a team to the point where it is functioning at such a high level requires more than just giving an assignment. It requires either a fortuitious mix of personalities and culture, or time and nurturing. Know which one you are signing up for before you start.

There is a lot of other good advice in here as well, and I found it very helpful in taking the first steps towards a more agile approach to project management.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2008
I generally like this book, and find it's content helpful. However, the examples chosen for the book focus on "broken" situations that seem to go beyond just project management and development methodology, and demonstrate that somehow magically, Scrum saves the day.

While I like the optimism and positive-thinking these examples encourage, it doesn't match reality. When I walk into a messy, complex situation, apply Scrum, and the world doesn't turn to pink roses, I'm left wondering if I did something wrong...I'm frustrated...I'm angry...I'm confused. The examples setup an expectation of outcomes that is too high to be reached generally, and I think some examples of failures and lessons learned would have rounded out this book much better.

In the real-world, "perfection is the enemy of success" and I think that's what I find missing from this book. All of the outcomes represent a perfect implementation of Scrum to solve the problem in the example.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 29, 2006
This is a good account of Scrum practices as used "for real" in several case studies, plus some general evangelism and two very useful appendices on Scrum rules and terminology definitions.

I do think it has become somewhat hard for Schwaber to imagine what it is like NOT to be familar with Scrum, as it is so deeply embedded in his thinking and practice! For instance, he uses the term "sashimi" early on without bothering to define it in Scrum terms - that comes later (Hence the 4 stars instead of 5. Would really like to give 4 1/2.)

His other book "Agile Software Development with SCRUM" has more in-depth coverage of the subject. It includes a fuller account of the essential difference between defined and empirical processes which is at the heart of Scrum and other agile methods. In this one, he does include the same reference to the (hard to find!) industrial engineering textbook that explains this, but in a more offhand way - just quoting a key paragraph a couple of times.

Perhaps the best sequence of reading depends on your role. If, like me, you are a developer, the first book is, I think, more rewarding for in-depth study and relationship to Agile principles in general, while this one is a good follow-up on implementation realities. For a manager wondering whether Scrum deserves exploring, this book will give a strong (positive) answer to that question, and can be followed by more in-depth study with the other book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I found this book to be an excellent introduction to the subject, however it was sparce on details and practical application. There were a lot of the author's experieces which I thought were useful dos and don'ts. I really expected more details on how to implement Scrum and was disappointed at the lack of real details.
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