Introduction to Ruck (or Loose Scrum) Software Development

Ruck software development system – which is sometimes called Loose Scrum – is an emerging agile methodology that is based on Scrum, but has some features which sets it apart. Ruck methodology was coined by Microsoft’s ALM Rangers team and was called Ruck because in the world of rugby it means “Loose Scrum“. The key principles of Ruck are transparency, inspection, adaptation and collaboration.

Transparency: In Ruck, visibility is key. The methodology was developed by virtual teams that are working on the project only part-time and therefore addresses the challenges of operating in a virtual environment – including having colleagues from different time zones, who are working in a virtual or part-time fashion, and have diverse cultural backgrounds. Therefore, it is important for the project manager to have a well-defined idea of what “done” means so as to avoid any misrepresentations and confusions.

Inspection: With inspection it is easier for mistakes and patterns that will not favor the project to be spotted earlier on. This scenario makes it easy to curb a potential problem before it becomes full-blown.

Adaption: Ruck is a software development system that is still at its early stages. It is essential to be open to changes and adaptations when experimenting with variables and unknown quantities.

Collaboration: Members of the team should be able to collaborate openly irrespective of their time zone. Collaboration and open communication can take place at any time it is convenient for the entire team members.

Ruck is often used by teams operating from different time zones which cuts across different cultures. It is therefore a challenging task right from the planning stage, to the collaboration proper and down to the tracking. Ruck team has some feature areas with the Ruck Master being in charge. The role of feature area lead makes it possible to coordinate team members from different time zones and cultures. This type of team structure makes it easy for the Ruck master to delegate project management and tracking tasks to feature leads. The core team thus has time to focus on tweaking, grooming and refining the Ruck framework and other supporting infrastructure.

A feature lead is the person in charge of the feature area. This person is part of a core team comprising of other feature area leads, project managers, subject-matter experts and of course the Ruck Master. Iterations in Ruck often involve 4 weeks duration – as it might be difficult to have shorter iterations due to resource constraints that usually accompany part-time work.

Unlike Scrum, stand-up meetings may be capped at 30 minutes. This will allow time for more collaboration between team members. Again, stand-up meetings are more of ad-hoc in nature rather than regular.

Ruck development is a work in progress that is empirical at best. It is currently an evolving process that takes into consideration the virtual and part-time team members in a highly distributed environment. It is hoped that Ruck will be a framework that addresses the challenges of virtual teams – and will be reusable, transparent and predictable.

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