Sprints/ScrIMP FAQ

Our iterative, agile development approach and task center.
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Sprints/ScrIMP FAQ

Post by Trilarion »

This post explains all you want to know about our implementation of agile development methods.

1. What is ScrIMP?

ScrIMP (Scrum for Imperialism) is an agile development method based on SCRUM methodologies, modified to work more fluidly with volunteer workers. If you don't know what that means, don't worry! Just know that ScrIMP is an oganizational tool that will generate team activity and progress.

2. What is Scrum?

Scrum is an organizational structure for iterative software development. It's a tad complicated to spill out in it's entirety, but essentially it boils down to a process similar to the following:

  • Teams meet regularly (weekly or monthly), discuss progress, and set new goals for the next block of work.
  • Teams perform their function in a Sprint, a short period with a deadline in which the new sprint goals are met.
  • Teams follow sprints with a review meeting, demonstrating completed work.
  • Teams follow the review meeting with a meta-sprint meeting, where team members reflect on the sprint and modify their own processes to improve future sprints.
All of this is incredibly simplified, but we are going to modify Scrum quite a bit anyway so we don't need to detail the original. The reason for the modification has to do with SCRUM and other agile processes being developed for highly skilled and highly paid software developers, not open source volunteers like us. Also, these development systems are designed to optimize progress in large teams (hundreds or thousands of people) - not the handfuls we will see.[/color]

3. How does ScrIMP work?

ScrIMP will target individual volunteers instead of teams, and eventually lead to an easily-communicated progress structure. It will be incredibly beneficial as we get closer to and eventually past a 1.0 release. It's a bit less organized, but more flexible as we aren't in the same time zones or have the same time free to work.

ScrIMP functions on 7-day work blocks, called Sprints. The goal of these is for "sprinters" to set small goals for themselves that are achievable, and to complete those tasks in a single week. Based on their production, sprinters then share their work with the team, talk about their sprint, and self-reflect on the week so they can set and meet goals in the future. These actions are done by posting in the Sprint Volunteer, Sprint Progress, and Sprint Review threads:

Sprint Volunteer: The place where you announce your sprint goal and discuss it with everybody including the team leaders. Team leaders (Programming, Graphics, Music, etc.) must visit this place regularly and make sure the sprint goals are consistent with the overall project goals. Even if you do not have a goal in mind, you can become inspired here. Keep in mind that a goal will need to be completed within the 7 day sprint, and you will be setting a new goal should you sprint the following week.

It is important to understand that final approval for a goal lies completely with the volunteer, not the team leaders.
Sprinters are always free to contribute in any way they choose.

Sprint Progress: If during a sprint you arrive at a problem or need some feedback, you can discuss it here. Everybody is allowed to help but only giving advice or feedback. Team leaders are required to give guidance here in case of problems, to the best of their ability (they are volunteers themselves).

Sprint Review: This is where the volunteers of the previous week's sprint come together and post their completed work from the sprint. Volunteers also use this as a work journal where they describe what went right and wrong for them in the last sprint.

The only requirement we ask is that volunteers post fully and completely in the Volunteer and Review threads if they want to participate. This creates a great self-paced work environment, where the sprinter can learn from their mistakes, refine their work process, and set realistic goals moving forward. It will also work very well at keeping a fluidly changing team on track. If someone goes on vacation and skips a week or two or sprints, it's it's no big deal - they didn't sign up for them in the first place. If a less-regular person only wants to sprint once every few months, that's fine. Sprints take away the overwhelming nature of a large project, and encourage people to get in and get their hands dirty in whatever way they think they can.[/color]

4. What if I don't want to do Sprints?

That's fine, sprints are not necessary to do a contribution. In fact they are completely voluntary. That said, we'd love to see more people sprinting - nothing keeps us motivated like seeing other people pushing themselves alongside us!

So take the plunge and give it a try: challenge yourself with a sprint goal, see if you can get it done in a week, and learn something about yourself in the process!
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