Improving Scrum by Using Spikes


  • Understanding spikes.
  • Understanding the two types of spikes.
  • How to execute a spike on your team.

Estimating new work from your product backlog is often a difficult and daunting task. At any stage of the project, your team may find itself unclear about how to design or implement a piece of functionality. The new functionality might be a particularly complex problem, or it might have multiple dependencies that make the design more complicated than other parts of the product.

When your team finds itself facing significant unknowns, continuing with traditional sprints as described in the previous chapters of this book can lead to bigger problems. Sprints are successful when a team has clear goals and clear requirements. When one or both of these two things are not clear, the team needs to find a new way to work until both are back in focus. Scrum deals with this lack of clarity with a time-boxed exercise known as a spike. In this chapter, you will learn how to use and run spikes with Team Foundation Server (TFS) and the Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 1.0 process template.


A spike is a time-boxed technical investigation that is meant to produce the answer to a problem that is blocking a team. As with any other iteration of work in Scrum, the goal of a spike is to produce value. However, a spike is different from a sprint in that the goal is not to produce value for customers. Instead, a spike produces value ...

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