Our Agile/Scrum Setup in Almeta

Intro

We’re currently trying with different style. Between Agile/Scrum and Kanban. This is the latest we’re doing. We’re going to keep this post updated.

The Team in Almeta

We are a remote, cross functional team.

  • We try to have balance in skill we have. We favor T shape employees. We <3 Valve.
  • Skin in the Game: In a startup you’ve to eat your own food. And you’ve to take extra responsibility for any code you develop. We don’t have researchers and engineers. We have research-engineers. Those who learned to do research, develop ideas, write their code and also bring them into production.
  • AI is our core DNA, Design is our RNA. We love to design beautiful product and experiences. We have part of the engineering, website engineers, and design in one team set.
  • Marketing. The marketing team consists of 1 designer, 1 marketeer and 1 engineer (yes, you’ve read that right.) We want our marketing to show what values we hold ourselves accountable for a responsible, ethical use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. That’s why we have a ninja engineer/marketeer in the marketing team.

Sprint Setup

This is our setup to implement a Sprint Scrum/Agile variant for a remote team:

  • Platform: Due to restrictions, we use Asana (and we don’t like it.) Not Jira.
  • Length: 1-week. We’re research-driven company and we’re trying lots of setups for the sprint. With very short-horizon of how things goes in research, we’ve opted to trial a 1-week period for a month now. Was 2-week previously.
  • Days: 5. Sunday to Thursday, each week.
  • Columns in Asana: We have “New”, “Start First” (Kanban-style), “In Progress”, “Blocked”, “2 Eyes QA”, “4 Eyes QA” and “Done.”
  • Planning: We have a Sprint Planning meeting every week (yes, not every 2 weeks), to make sure everything is on track.
  • Retrospective: At the end of Thursday of the 2nd week of the sprint.
  • Member Velocity: Calculated at the end of the sprint (end of the two week) in the Done columns.
  • Daily standups in the morning: written and vocal.

The Job of the Scrum Master

We rotate the job of a Scrum Master each sprint. The Scrum Master will be allotted explicit time for this task (3-4 hours for 1-week sprint and 8 hours for 2-week sprint) and will be accounted for towards his velocity. Your job as a Scrum Master will be:

  • Each day of the Sprint by 11AM
    Check that no ticket is in “Ready for QA” column more than two days. Chase people over this.
  • On Thursday, Before the Sprint Retrospective Meeting
    On the last Thursday of the sprint, at 5 PM, and before the Sprint Retrospective, you should:
    1. Chase people over filling their feedback and Kaizen Happiness Metrics in “sprint-retro” sheet on Google drive.
    2. Only leave the tickets that will be done on Thursday. You should know which tickets will be closed when you attend the Sprint daily standup in the morning. Move everything else to a completely new created sprint with the remaining tickets, if any.
    3. Make sure you there’s no tickets in “Ready for QA” column. Chase people over this. No “Ready for QA” tickets should moved into the next Sprin
  • On Sunday Before the New Sprint Starts
    You should:
    1. Close the previous sprint: Make sure you there’s no tickets in “Ready for QA” column. Chase people over this. No “Ready for QA” tickets should moved into the next Sprint.
    2. Calculate everyone’s SPs and Velocity in the Closed Sprint.
  • Others:
    • Be edgy about adding SP and new tickets into the sprint. Don’t allow changing SP arbitrarily.
    • Guard the Sprint: Any new tickets to be added or removed from the sprint should go through you.

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