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The Agile Requirements Refinery: Applying SCRUM Principles to Software Product Management (Essay Sample)

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The task was about summarizing the article "The Agile Requirements Refinery: Applying SCRUM Principles to Software Product Management"

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The Agile Requirements Refinery: Applying SCRUM Principles to Software Product Management
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Introduction
For the last few years, the introduction of agile principles was one of the major software development methodology innovations. Since this innovation, other agile software developments methods have been introduced and are being practiced (Abrahamsson, Warsta, Siponen & Ronkainen, 2003, p. 244).  Some of these methods are dynamic systems development method (DSDM) (Stapleton, 1999, p. 406), Extreme Programming (Beck, 1999), Feature Driven Development (Palmer & Felsing, 2002) and SCRUM (Schwaber, 1995, pp. 117–134). These methods are popular because their development process can be applied in a changing environment. Even though they are popular, they experience little attention as far as their application in software development management is concerned. However, the attention was reinstated by SCRUM development method; one of the agile requirements refinery software developments methods. Today, product managers can now handle complex requirements using this SCRUM development method.
This paper presents an actual case study as an illustration of how agile methods, specifically SCRUM method, can be applied to software product management. Therefore, the research question how should the development of software product be performed in a SCRUM development context? will be addressed.
According to Schwaber (1995, pp. 117–134), SCRUM development method was proposed in the year 1995. This method applies the agile software development management in organizations that create software products and it works based on the agile software development principles. This method is flexible in terms of addressing the development of software. The flexibility is observed during the development of some parts of the software product lifecycle as sprints [a series of flexible black boxes]; however, the planning and closure phases are not developed as sprints. Now, sprints help developing teams to successfully complete the final software product. In addition, it is forbidden to add new requirements to the phases developed as sprints so that developing teams can proceed with ease in developing a successful final product even when the environment is continually changing from factors such as financial pressure, time pressure, and competition.
Also, the SCRUB method must be accompanied by a Product Backlog (PB) documentation that lists important items to a specific product such as bugs, technological upgrades, competitive functionality, customer requested enhancements and competitive product functionality (Schwaber 1995, pp. 117–134), and all participating teams in the development process must possess a development sprint backlog (DSB) documentation.
The SCRUM Software Product Management Processes
The first starting point for a product development lifecycle is vision. A vision comprises an idea suggested by the organization’s management, stakeholders or customers. Then, the product manager examines the vision and changes it into a theme.
The next stage is called theme. Here, the proposed idea is explained in detail. Here, the product manager explains the purpose of the new vision, its business importance and the stakeholders involved. Additionally, the themes technical feasibility is assessed by the participating development team. In cases where a vision is complex, its conversion can result to multiple themes.
The next stage is called concept. Here, themes are divided into smaller parts namely concepts that comprise sets of solutions such as product constraints, product drivers, scope of the concept, concept necessity which are then compiled into documentation which must be clear and more detailed to assist in defining requirements in detail. Therefore, to ensure all the concepts are properly defined, a software architect performs a thorough checking.
The next stage is the requirement definition. Here, concepts are translated into a list of requirement definitions in three steps namely description, rationale/justification, and criterion/standard. Now, each requirement definition must be checked by architects, functional designers or main developers to ensure they are feasible and compatible with other requirements. Then, the software development teams elaborate these requirement definitions into a detailed description of needed functionality to work with and ensure that the definitions are consistent, feasible and understandable by all participating team members.
Now, this research paper’s research question is how software product management can be performed in a SCRUM development context. The above processes answer the research question. Also, an actual testing of the SCRUM method; a method for agile software product management was done in Netherlands in a product software company called Planon International. This case study company was chosen because it was one of the first companies that implemented the SCRUM development method based on the agile principles of agile software product management. Therefore, the gathered facts from this case study company helped answer this paper’s research question (Regnell, Svensson & Olsson, 2008, pp. 42–47). These facts were gathered through unstructured interviews with product stakeholders, requirement engineer, product managers and the lead technology officer where the responses were recorded and other information extracted later and through study guideline documents such as Volere requirements specification template and product and sprint backlog which were provided by the organization (Pichler, Rumetshofer & Wahler, 2006, pp. 251–256).
To summarize, the introduction of agile has provided a solution to product managers as far as managing of large requirements is concerned during software product management. Other agile software developments methods have been introduced too and are being practiced. These methods are popular because their development process can be ...
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