A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum

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I'm happy to announce that A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum by Elizabeth Woodward, Steffan Surdek, and Matthew Ganis is now in print.  I've been talking this book up in presentations and with customers the past few months and promised that I would let everyone know once it was available.  I was one of several people who wrote forewords for the book, Ken Schwaber, Roman Pichler, and Matthew Wang also did so, and I've modified my foreword below to help you to understand a bit better what the book is about.

If you're thinking about buying this book, you're probably trying to answer one or more of the following questions: "What will I learn?", "Should I spend my hard earned money on this book?", "Will it be worth my valuable time to read it?", and "Is this a book that I'll refer to again and again?" To help you answer these questions, I thought I'd list a few user stories which I believe this book clearly fulfills:
As a reader I want:
  • a book that is well-written and understandable real-world examples that I can relate to
  • quotes from actual people doing this in the field
  • to understand the challenges that I'll face with distributed agile development

As someone new to agile I want to:
  • learn the fundamentals of Scrum
  • understand the fundamentals of agile delivery
  • learn about what actually works in practice
  • discover how extend Scrum into an agile delivery process

As an experienced agile practitioner I want to learn:
  • how to scale agile approaches for distributed teams
  • how to overcome the challenges faced by distributed teams
  • how to tailor existing agile practices to reflect the realities of distribution
  • bout "new" agile practices which we might need to adopt
  • techniques so that distributed team members can communicate effectively
  • how to extend Scrum with proven techniques from Extreme Programming, Agile Modeling, and other agile methods
  • how to address architectural issues on a distributed agile team
  • how agile teams address documentation
  • how agile teams can interact effectively with non-agile teams

As a Scrum Master I want to learn how to:
  • lead a distributed agile team
  • facilitate a distributed "Scrum of Scrums"
  • facilitate the successful initiation of a distributed agile project
  • facilitate communication and collaboration between distributed team members

As a Product Owner I want to learn:
  • how to manage a product backlog on a distributed team
  • about different categories of stakeholders whom I will need to represent
  • about techniques to understand and capture the goals of those stakeholders
  • how to manage requirements with other product owners on other sub-teams
  • what to do during an end-of-sprint review
  • how I can streamline things for the delivery team that I'm working with

As an agile skeptic I want to:
  • see examples of how agile works in practice
  • hear about the challenges faced by agile teams
  • hear about where agile strategies don't work well and what to do about it

I work with organizations around the world helping them to scale agile strategies to meet their real-world needs. Although this book is focused on providing strategies for dealing with geographical distribution, it also covers many of the issues that you'll run into with large teams, complex problem domains and complex technical domains. An important aspect of scaling agile techniques is to first recognize that's there's more to scalability than dealing with large teams, something which this book clearly demonstrates.

At the risk of sounding a bit corny, I've eagerly awaited the publication of this book for some time. I've known two of the authors, Elizabeth and Matt, for several years and have had the pleasure of working with them and learning from them as a result. Along with hundreds of other IBMers I watched this book get written and provided input where I could.  The reason why I'm so excited about it is that I've wanted something that I could refer the customers to that I work with and honestly say, "yes, we know that this works because this is what we do in practice".

IBM is doing some very interesting work when it comes to scaling agile. We haven't published enough externally, in my opinion, due to a preference for actively sharing our experiences internally. This book collects many of our experiences into a coherent whole and more importantly shares them outside the IBM process ecosystem. Bottom line is that I think that you'll get a lot out of this book.

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