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INFOTECH: Scrum Methodology - Pause ... Touch ... Engage


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The Scrum methodology is slowly but surely finding traction in the application testing market as one of the methods to implement an agile software development process. According to Mark Myburgh, a Test Manager at EOH Application Management, Scrum completely redefines the approach to traditional testing by shifting the focus to the end product in addition to staying within the specified time and budget limit.

“Scrum comprises of a scrum master who guides the team in the principles of Scrum. He evangelizes Scrum throughout the organisation and removes impediments blocking the team’s progress. The product owner is a high-profile representative from the client that will steer the team in terms of what is important to the client. The team is usually made up of a business analyst, software developers and testers,” explains Myburgh.

Scrum is designed around two to four week sprints that are agreed upon by the client, says Myburgh. “At the end of the sprint the team needs to produce something that is presented to the client, which can take the form of one screen or one functionality. Within each sprint all the traditional components of testing takes place that analysis of business requirements the development of code and testing of the application. The results are presented to the client at the end of the cycle, which ultimately buys the goodwill of the client as they have access to a physical manifestation of the product as it develops.”

Scrum Methodology Allows for Development Progress

Myburgh says the sprints employed in Scrum means that the client will see something every two to four weeks, which allows for the product brief to be tweaked and optimised as development progresses. “The Scrum method is not necessarily faster, but it is allot more accurate in terms of delivering exactly what the client needs – now - instead of developing something the client needed last year. It is one of the core advantages of an agile development method.”

The members that make up the team needs to be carefully selected to comprise of motivated and competent team players that do not need to be micro-managed. “Scrum effectively breaks down the barriers of communication that traditionally exist between business analysts, programmers and testers. For this reason, the team needs to be positioned together to encourage communication. It also provides the perfect platform for cross skill development. Thinking beyond traditional methods and embracing new methodologies are intricate to the process,” says Myburgh.

What is Needed to Understand the Scrum Methodology

A Scrum implementation needs to be done with a team that is experienced and accustomed to the process. “We normally recommend that our clients participate in a two-day basic principles training session that will allow everyone to wrap their minds around the process. It will usually take two to three sprints to get the Scrum process in terms of structures, meetings and reporting in place. When you reach sprint number four, the team should be working like clockwork,” Myburgh explains.

The traditional waterfall method follows a cycle that starts with business analysis and flows into software development. From there the product is tested, the client is trained and the product is rolled out. “The process historically has a knock-on effect as far as time is concerned and more often the final product is not exactly what the client needs. An agile approach stays current and is much more adaptable. The scrum methodology ultimately delivers something that reflects the changing business environment in which all our clients operate,” concludes Myburgh.


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