What Does the Scrum Guide 2020 Mean For Us?

What Does the Scrum Guide 2020 Mean For Us?

#65. Neil discusses the five most important changes in Scrum Guide 2020  for Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 teams:

  1. It's less strict and less about software
  2. One team (except when there're multiple teams)
  3. Commitments clarified - the Product Goal
  4. No more roles
  5. Increments

Customery Academy's course, Scrum for Microsoft Business Apps, will be updated in time for the new Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master certification assessment on 9 January. You can get $100 off if you join before 31 December using coupon code: 93G7PCAH.

What do you think of the 2020 Scrum Guide? Which changes do you think will have the most impact on Power Platform and Dynamics 365 teams?

Visit the Amazing Applications page on LinkedIn, and let me know in the comments for this episode.


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Welcome to the Amazing App show for Microsoft Business Applications creators who want to build amazing, agile business applications that everyone will love. My goal in this show is to help you slash your project budgets, reduce your delivery timelines, mitigate technical risks, and create amazing, agile Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform applications.

Hi, I'm Neil Benson. I've been a Microsoft MVP for Business Applications since 2010 and a certified professional Scrum Master and Product Owner that's been using the Scrum framework to build business applications since around 2008. On this show, we're going to be looking at the new Scrum Guide, the 2020 version of the Scrum Guide.

I want to give a quick shout out to one of my students, Tracy Hudson, who is now the scrum master at relevant CRM in North Carolina, Tracy joined the ultimate edition of my Scrum for Microsoft Business Apps course. So that included her Professional Scrum Master certification assessment fee and some private coaching. And in our private coaching call, Tracy asked some really great questions, drilling down into the values and the philosophy of Scrum. I know in her heart, she really gets it and she's going to be an amazing scrum master for her teams. 

In this episode, we're going to be examining the Scrum Guide 2020 and asking, what does it mean for Microsoft Business Apps builders. On the 18th of November, just a couple of weeks ago, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber published a new iteration of the Scrum Guide. They're the originators and the update it every couple of years.

In this episode, I'll be summarizing the changes to the Scrum Guide and underlining what it means for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform builders who have adopted the Scrum framework to help them build a complex business application. 

First of all, if you're new to Scrum or new to the show, what's it all about?

Scrum started in 1995 as a software development framework devised by Jeff and Ken who were two of the signatories of the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto is a philosophy for a lightweight approach to software development created in 2001. So, Scrum predates agile software development by a couple of years. Scrum was encapsulated in a document called the Scrum Guide published originally in around 2020.

And it's today published under an open license and has been revised several times, culminating in the most recent version: Scrum Guide 2020. The last update was a few years ago in 2017. In recent versions, Scrum has slowly been throwing off its history as a software development framework. 

Scrum has proven successful for teams performing lots of different types of complex work, not just software development.  Like designing education programs, building space rockets, launching marketing campaigns, and in a dozen more industries, the Scrum Guide 2020 has finally broken free of software development. It now defines a Scrum as a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.

It doesn't matter whether your product, like ours, is a business application or a service such as an educational program, a physical product, like a rocket ship, or an intangible product, like a marketing campaign. If it's not possible to know all the requirements or all the details of the solution that will satisfy those requirements at the outset, then your work could be described as complex and Scrum can help you build a solution.

If you're building a simple application, like, I don't know, an individual Power Automate flow or a personal canvas app in Power Apps or delivering a Dynamics 365 Business Central application that's based on an industry template then perhaps your work is simple  It can probably be done by a couple of people in a couple of days or weeks. That's straight forward work and it doesn't warrant a framework like Scrum. But if your business applications team is using Scrum today, or you're  Scrum curious and considering evaluating the Scrum framework that, you know, Neil Benson keeps saying can slash your project budgets, shrink your delivery, timelines, mitigate technical risks, and cause you to have a lot more fun building business applications that everyone will love, then what does this new version of the Scrum Guide mean for your team, for your organization and for your application's users?

First of all, I don't think that much will change. If you're currently practising Scrum, you're already inspecting and adapting your application of the Scrum framework to your working practices.  And you should continue to do that. 

I'm going to focus on the top five changes that I think you need to know about if you're a business applications team.  Let's run through the top five quickly. 

1. Scrum Guide 2020 is less strict and less about software

2.  There's one team (except when there are multiple teams)

3. Commitments are clarified

4. There are no more roles

5. Increments


1. Scrum is less strict and less about software. 

In the previous version, there was still a little bit of prescriptive guidance for how to apply Scrum.

For example, what questions to ask and your daily scrum. I never liked those questions and my teams haven't used them for years. So I'm pretty glad they're gone. Scrum. Doesn't need to have at least three people anymore. And almost all of the rules around cancelling a sprint are gone. 

There's still some structure to Scrum.

Scrum still has five events, and those are timeboxed, for example, but several of the rules have gone. So you're a scrum team has more latitude to apply Scrum on its own terms. It's definitely not a methodology. It's just a piece of scaffolding and you have to fill in the blanks with your own engineering and work practices to make Scrum work for you.

Gone from the Scrum Guide are the last mentions of software development. There's no more mentions of product versions, of testing, architecture, operations, business analysis, or releases, even requirements and estimates have gone. What the heck! 

Developers still have a place. And while our software-lizard brains still equate developers to programmers, whether you're a professional developer or a citizen developer, Scrum developers are any people involved and accountable for creating a usable product increment. 

In our world, scrum developers will still continue to mean analysts, architects, programmers, system, administrators, and testers, but outside of business applications, outside of software, scrum developers could be marketers, educators, policy specialists, rocket scientists, or anyone else building the product or service.

2.  There's one team (except when there are multiple teams)

Second change for me is the focus on one team, except when there are multiple teams. In the 2020 Scrum Guide, there's no more development team. The scrum team now has one product owner, one scrum master and developers. There's no team within the team. Now, the scrum team as a whole is accountable for creating value.

And I think this one is a great change for our community. Especially for scrum teams where the product owner is a Microsoft customer and the developers work for a Microsoft partner. Procurement policies and contractual arrangements can sometimes pit partners against customers, but Scrum brings us together and hold us jointly liable for the success of our application.

There's no more development team within the scrum team. There's just the team. 

Where it gets a little weird, is when the scrum team gets too big. The 2020 Scrum Guide now encourages us to organize into multiple cohesive scrum teams with one product goal, one product backlog and one product owner.

So if you're building a big complex business application and you're using a scaled Scrum framework, such as LeSS, Scrum@Scale or Nexus, then you're going to need to tweak your approach here. And those scaled frameworks are also going to change their approach.

3. Commitments are clarified

The third big change for me is the clarification of commitments. 

New for the 2020 Scrum Guide is a product goal. The product goal is a long-term objective for the scrum team to help them with planning and it guides their decision-making, especially when they have to make trade-offs. 

In my story maps training, I've been calling this, the product vision.  I'll be updating that to product goal and incorporating that into my Scrum training. 

The 2020 Scrum Guide now clarifies the commitments for each of the framework's artefacts. 

  • For  the product backlog its commitment is the product goal,
  • The sprint backlog' commitment is the sprint goal, and 
  • The increment's commitment is the definition of done.

I really like that. Nice and clear. Each artefact has its own commitment.

4. No more roles

The product owner and the scrum master are no longer described as roles in the Scrum Guide. The word 'roles' has been dropped altogether.  Product owners and scrum masters now have accountabilities instead.

Some Scrum practitioners are making a big deal out of this. Maybe they saw lots of job titles called 'Product Owner' and 'Scrum Master', and really those were roles and not job titles. But anyway, I don't think it's a massive deal. There's a small shift in emphasis over what the product owner and the scrum master do and our kind of before, but that's about it.

Developers have a clear set of accountabilities, but there are no surprising changes there, other than a change in the description from self-organizing to self-managing. I consider that to be synonymous. And I think that change is inconsequential. I would have preferred they left it as self-organizing, but whatever.

I don't see many changes for the product owner either, except that the product goal is added to her set of accountabilities. No surprises there.

There are some tweaks to the accountabilities of the scrum master. The most controversial of which is a change from 'servant-leader' to what the Scrum Guide now calls a 'true leader'. I don't know what that means, but I liked the servant-leader philosophy.

I think it stands in contrast to a very directive, assertive leadership style practised by a lot of project managers. And that's a pattern which project managers need to unlearn if they want to become great scrum masters. I think we've lost something valuable by changing servant leader to true leader.

5. Increments

And the fifth change that I think is important in the Scrum Guide for business applications, teams is increments. 

I think the new Scrum Guide has a better definition for an increment. It's a valuable, usable stepping stone towards the product goal that has been verified to meet our definition of done.

Some teams building Power Apps or Dynamics 365 apps and transitioning to Scrum, in my experience, they were tempted to call their increments done when the development effort was complete and it was ready for testing. That testing would happen at a later time, perhaps even by testers or users, that aren't part of the scrum team.

I've always believed that the increments should be completely done within the sprint. And for my teams, that means the features are tested and ready to release into production at any time, the product owner gives us the nod. And I think the new 2020 Scrum Guide backs me up here. There's no increment until it has been verified to meet our definition of done and it's usable. 

I also love the clarification that we don't have to wait until the sprint is over to deliver an increment. We can release an increment as soon as it meets our definition of done. Even the product owner's approval to release is no longer explicitly required. But in my book, it's probably still a good idea.

So there you have it. My top five changes in the Scrum Guide. 

Updates to the Scrum for Microsoft Business Apps course

If you're a student in the Customery Academy, which is my online school that helps business apps builders build amazing agile business applications, you might be wondering what's going to happen next to the Scrum course. 

Firstly, I've had to pause the next course I've been working on - Story Mapping - which is going to help you estimate plan, pitch, and win business applications projects. I'm going back to my Scrum from Microsoft Business Apps course and revising it to ensure that the content in there will help you understand the 2020 Scrum Guide and achieve your Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master certification.

Scrum.org's training and certification program will continue to be based on the current 2017 Scrum Guide, but only until the 9th of January next year. That's the 9th of January, 2021. I'm targeting the same date for the refresh of my Scrum course. It'll still be packed with proven practices and case studies from actual Microsoft Business Applications projects.  It's just the Scrum content that will be updated. 

So, if you want to join the current course and get certified before the 9th of January next year, you can use the $100 off coupon code you'll find in the show notes at customery.com/014. Just a little thank you to all the Amazing Applications podcast listeners, like you, that make the show worthwhile. 

Certifications with Scrum.org don't expire so now is a great time to achieve your PSM certification.

You'll automatically get access to the 2020 version of the course as soon as it's available early next year as well. 

I'd love to know what you think of the 2020 Scrum Guide, which changes do you think will have the most impact on your Power Platform or Dynamics 365 teams visit the Amazing Applications page on LinkedIn and let me know in the comments for this episode.

You'll find show notes for this episode at customery.com/014

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Until then, keep sprinting. Bye for now.