Scrum based High-tech Product Development with a very mixed Group (Seniors & Novices)



  • I'm already a (certified) Scrum Master of a software Development Team and I'm going to/have to establish an agile product development process (Scrum is favored) with another group with four engineers.

    Two engineers (PhD level) have been working for years on this very complex software based product. I'd guess you need at least one year to be somewhat productive (though three years may be more accurate).

    Now two job starters (directly from university) will join the group. But they will need massive training: one in physics and math, the other one in software engineering and programming.

    I already had some discussions with the designated group leader and Product Owner. While appreciating agile ideas, values and practices and Scrum in general, he thinks the idea of a time-boxed Sprint would produce additional stress in the beginning. He would prefer a more event-boxed Sprint (we finished this feature and now we can Sprint until the next feature is done).

    I mentioned with this approach he will be missing the important aspect of synchronization in time. But on the other hand the novices will not be able to estimate the smallest feature at all. The designated group leader/Product Owner is willing to switch to a time-boxed sprint after the new group members are trained, productive and cross-functional.

    What do you think? Is this possible? What is the best way to establish Scrum in this situation? Is there a better-suited agile process?



  • he thinks the idea of a time-boxed sprint would produce additional stress in the beginning.

    I disagree with this assessment. The time boxed sprint is not intended to create a stressful deadline. Instead it is a natural break point that allows the team to get feedback and to inspect & adapt.

    A Scrum team that is a mixture of experienced engineers and new job starters should not be a problem. The velocity of the team will adjust to allow for the training and mentoring. The result will be a sustainable pace of delivery that takes account of the mix of capability in the team.



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