Developers form the core of any scrum team, so it’s important that they feel satisfied in their roles and not as though they’re just robots delivering their work. They need to be able to voice their opinion throughout every sprint as this feedback can help everyone, no matter what their role is. In my seven years as a project manager, I’ve worked with many developers and in speaking with them, I’ve learned strategies for making scrum more developer-friendly. Here are my top five.
More Communication from the Top Down
Often there isn’t a lot of information given to developers about why some parts of the process are more important than others or why some user stories (informal explanations of a software feature written from the perspective of the end user) are more important than others. This can be frustrating because very often we ask them to pivot their attention from one story to another and they have no idea why. Involving them in the strategic planning phase can give them a more holistic understanding of the project from the get-go.
Know that Story Points are Just Estimates
Story points are a unit of measurement used to estimate how much effort is required to complete a user story. If a stakeholder initially hears ’30 hours’ for a user story, they tend to take it literally and believe that it’ll be done by Monday, but work estimates can change based on a variety of factors. When an inaccurate estimate is used to track a team’s progress, it can be used to a penalize a team for not achieving an unachievable target. It can also lead to unfair expectations and unfair comparisons to other teams who seem to be achieving their goals faster or more often. In order to combat that, I make sure that I’m keeping communication open and frequent between my team and stakeholders, so that both sides are aware of any updates to our timeline.
User Stories Start with Users
The point of a user story is that we’re sitting down with the user and asking them “in your daily job, in order to make this software work, what do you need it to do?” The developers I’ve spoken with ask that we actually talk to the users and find out what it is they need, instead of reading a technical document and then deciding from there what we think the user will need. This makes for a better, more user-friendly product.
Think Strategically Through Your Documentation
There’s a common misconception with scrum that there’s no documentation and that’s simply not true. We moved from waterfall where there was so much documentation, that when scrum came along people wanted a lighter documentation process, but that doesn’t mean NO documentation. It’s still very important when it comes to reporting bugs, listing user criteria, support documentation (like troubleshooting guides or contact information) and user documentation (like training manuals and user manuals). When documenting, it’s also important to put everything in plain English, especially when it comes to acceptance criteria, which is written in “given, when” statements. Developers just want to know what they need to do to make stakeholders happy.
Celebrate Your Victories (Even the Small Ones)
I always tell my developers and quality assurance (QA) engineers that it’s all about the little victories, because I think it’s those incremental victories that really help us get to our goal. I’m always encouraging my team to share their victories, whether it’s in a one-on-one or group setting. That way we can celebrate it in an environment where the colleague is most comfortable.
It’s important that we listen to our developers’ ideas and suggestions due to their vital place on our scrum teams. Really take their suggestions to heart, because without talented developers we wouldn’t be able to deliver products that wow our clients and their users.
About the Author:
NiQ’uita ‘Nikki’ Clark is a Senior Project Manager for Sparq. Nikki has worked in IT Project Management since 2015 after working in several roles in the IT realm, including Helpdesk Technician, Email/SharePoint Administrator and Network Administrator. Nikki is the mother to three young boys and likes to spend her free time gaming.
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