Agile Toolkit: A Free Tool To Help Scrum Masters Manage Sprints

Veteran and novice Scrum Masters, alike, can struggle with finding a practical tool to help manage their Sprints on a weekly basis.

Our free Agile Toolkit is an easy-to-use and highly functional Excel sheet that allows Scrum Masters to manage their Sprint more effectively. This tool handles tracks Team capacity, velocity, Yesterday’s Weather, Interrupt Buffers, and more! It also generates charts for a team’s velocity over time and individual Sprint burndowns.

Regardless if you are starting from Sprint zero or need a new solution for your established team, this tool will be a great fit!

To grab the tool and get started, head over HERE to sign up. You’ll also get access to a video demonstration and tutorial to help get you started!

Why is the Agile Toolkit so useful?

Don’t forget that while the Product Owner is responsible for WHAT the team does the Scrum Master is focused on HOW the work is getting done and a big part of the ‘How’ revolves around the Sprint itself.

Fortunately, the Agile Toolkit handles a LOT of Sprint-related tasks!

Before the team can even start Sprint Planning, the Scrum Master is responsible for gathering team capacity, calculating Yesterday’s Weather and the Interrupt Buffer, and letting the Product Owner know how many points they can accept into the upcoming Sprint.

Once the Sprint starts, the Scrum should also be constantly updating the Sprint Burndown to ensure that work in progress is being completed in a timely fashion and helping the team decide how to handle any interrupts.

After the Sprint is complete, the Scrum Master will get to work updating the team’s velocity, gathering data on the team’s happiness, and preparing to lead the Sprint Retrospective.

So go ahead and download the toolkit and get started HERE!

Scrum Holiday Gift Guide 2020

Happy Holidays from the team at Sigao Studios!

If you are still looking for a few gifts for friends and family (or yourself!) we wanted to make sure that you don’t have to look far for some great Scrum and Agile-related ideas.

Since we love learning about Scrum at Sigao, our first list is a reading list!

Our CEO, Chris Sims, has curated a fantastic list of books that cover everything from the basics of Scrum all the way up to leading Agile teams and preparing your business for its next pivot!

By the way, we also have lots of opportunities for FULL scholarships to our Dual-Certification Scrum Master and Product Owner Virtual classes. If you want to learn more about that, head to our class page right here!

Reading List: 

New Year’s is just around the corner – are you prepared to make 2021 your best year ever?

This list will help you learn more about Scrum and what it can do for your business, better understand how to put those ideas into practice within your organization, and even how to coach your employees.

Techy Gifts: 

If you aren’t in the mood for a book, don’t worry, because we have a sweet list of geeky stuff to check out too and the best part is that the first four items are from local Birmingham tech companies!

Some of these gifts ideas are super functional while others are just interested in fun!

Student Spotlight: Ethan Summers of Fledging!

We recently caught up with Ethan Summers, Commercial Operations Lead with Fledging, to ask him about the impact that his recent Scrum Master and Product Owner training has made in his professional life.

Fledging is part of Birmingham, AL’s rapidly growing tech startup community and they are doing some awesome things with product design and release in the portable SSD space. If you have a need for fast, secure, portable, and stylish storage, check them out here.

Since this was a short interview format, I’ll just list the questions along with his responses below!

Q: How has the Scrum Master and Product Owner training changed the mindset with which you approach your business?

We’re building into everything. We’re a startup in an industry full of tech titans with huge bank accounts, so all we really have is our creativity and agility. Scrum is helping be a lot more nimble. One major way is our Product process. We’ve rebuilt how we evaluate product concepts so that we get to “Yes” or “No” faster and in a validated way. 

Q: Have you incorporated any of the training into your workflow yet?

We’re right in the middle of that right now. The Product example above is one good example. But we’re trying to use it for everything. We don’t see any domain as off limits, even the “perpetual work” domains like our Production team, because they can run process improvement sprints or even decide to treat a whole month, with all its Production demands, as a kind of sprint. We’ve also started using concepts like the Daily Roundup right away. 

Q: Have you seen any immediate benefits to bringing these thought processes into your business?

We have! The Daily Roundup came at the perfect time during the quarantine. It would be really easy to lose touch with each other. Instead, we implemented Daily Roundups and now we all touch base at the beginning and end of each day to discuss what we’re working on, expected roadblocks, and so on. Our team’s reporting a lot of satisfaction both personally and professionally with this process.

Q: Do you think LSM/LSPO training would be helpful for other startups?

As long as they’re not a competitor, absolutely! But it would be a terrible waste of time for our competitors. 

Q: Would it be an added benefit for all members of a team to have this training (so that everyone understands it and are on the same page)?

Yes, I think so. Our CEO already has the training. Our CSO and I went through the same class. We have a Software Engineer going through it right now and our Head of Operations goes in May. Frankly, I think everyone on our team should do it. 

If you are interested in learning more about our LSM (Scrum Master) and LSPO (Product Owner) training classes then head over to our class page to get the details. Currently, those living near Birmingham, AL might even be eligible for a full scholarship to attend!

Factory Method vs. the Open-Closed Principle

I was recently asked if the factory method design pattern was a violation of the open-closed principle.

When you are adding a new subtype, you have to modify the factory method to enable to return additional subtypes. Also, you might be creating a new subtype for the factory method to return. Isn’t it an indication that you are violating the open-closed principles if you have to change multiple to files to enable a single new behavior? 

The open-closed principle states that entities (modules, classes, functions, etc.) should be open to extension and closed to modification. The factory method design pattern is a creational pattern that allows us to instantiate the proper type without specifying the exact implementation of that type. 

Consider the following:

  • The behavior of the factory method remains the same when you add the ability to return a new subtype; none of the callers of the factory method are forced to change
  • A new subtype that is created to be returned by the factory method is an addition by extending or implementing a type (hence, subtype), not a modification

If no behaviors have been changed, and all new functionality is an extension of existing functionality (or completely new functionality), we are complying with the open-closed principle.

Code Stratification

Most programmers spend more time reading code than they do writing new code. It is important, then, to write code in such a way that it is easy to read and understand.

Consistency goes a long way to help with this, but there is more to consistency than naming conventions and bracket placement.

Have you ever seen a table of contents like the one below?

  • Chapter 1. The Beginning
  • Chapter 2. John wasn’t paying attention when he modified the class. He failed to notice that the code was organized so that details of the multistep process were abstracted into a method calls. John introduced details of a new step alongside calls to the methods that nicely summarized the other steps. Fortunately, his team caught the inconsistency during code review.
  • Chapter 3. A Lesson Learned
  • Chapter 4. The Conclusion

It appears that someone provided too much detail for Chapter 2’s description relative to the other chapter descriptions.

Now consider the code below:

public List<string> GetTopTenBooks() {
    var bookTitles = GetBookTitles();
    if(bookTitles.Count > 10)
        bookTitles = SortByRating(bookTitles).Take(10);
    return bookTitles;

A method called TakeTenHighestRatedBooks that is called in place of the if-statement would hide the details of the ranking and truncation step and keep the code in the GetTopTenBooks() method at a consistent level of detail.

This is called code stratification. It is achieved when methods and classes have a consistent level of abstraction.