If you don’t live and breathe IT like we do at Pyramid Solutions, the various phrases and acronyms we use may be confusing. Today, we’ll discuss agile scrum, why it’s important and how you can bring it to your organization.
Scrum is one flavor of agile development, which stresses collaboration among cross-functional teams and project stakeholders to deliver products and improvements early, often and on a continual basis. If you own a home, you know that although the construction has long been complete, there is always a to-do list: clean the gutters, mow the yard, install that new light or whatever you need to do.
Thinking about agile in construction terms, agile can help get the house built in a more efficient manner, work out the defects and keep up with the required maintenance. Rather than one large crew and a project manager, there are several small, self-directed teams that recognize the next step(s) and work together to deliver each in turn.
Fortune 500 companies and beyond rely on scrum to deliver technology. A few example companies close to our Atlanta home that use scrum include Coca-Cola, Home Depot and NCR.
Scrum is a great way for IT to solve business problems while working within a common framework that everyone adheres to.
Regardless of where your company is on its scrum journey, there are several things to keep in mind.
- Change always is difficult. People like their routines. Think about the last multi-day conference or work session you attended. Did you sit in the same seat around the same people on subsequent days? Most of us would. That’s why management buy-in is critical to the success of any project—not just scrum adoption. Getting the right approvals and putting a framework into the place where team members can thrive will go a long way toward a company’s success.
- Focus on collaboration. At the heart of scrum beats a collaborative process where everyone has input. A common misperception confuses the scrum master with a project manager. For purposes of a scrum, the scrum master’s responsibilities are to help the team work at the highest level with minimal distraction. A product owner serves somewhat like a project manager, with responsibilities to the team, other stakeholders and the ultimate customer.
- Understand the team roles. Teams should be small to stay nimble, but they also must be cross-functional. With various departments and interests represented, new ideas can be examined quickly from all angles to bring consensus on what next steps to take. By producing new functions and improvements on a continual basis, the product should become more robust with each new iteration.
- Learn how to sprint. Just like walking precedes running on the child development chart, sprinting in scrum requires underlying knowledge to pull off successfully. The steps include a team decision on the next project and an anticipated deadline. The team meets briefly each day to assess their journey toward the goal and makes adjustments to the upcoming project list (backlog) as needed. And the sprint isn’t just about the journey. It should also include a retrospective to discuss the positives and negatives of the sprint and how the team can do better in the future.
- Identify and enlist talent. Look for the right people. Certifications, scrum knowledge, and agile mindset are characteristics the ideal talent should have. Each person has a different skillset and role in the scrum team. Focus on how they think, how they interact with others, and what they value. Hire for a long term fit, not a short term.
- Ensure proper training. Training is crucial for adopting the scrum mindset; common terminology, same language, and train the team together so they can validate the concepts. This leads to building a one team culture and understanding scrum values.
- Boost environment efficiency. Set up the work environment for success. Establish technology and tools for improved collaboration. Offer colocation and connected workspaces. Pick a scrum tool that allows you to inspect and adapt.
- Decrease single point debacles. Superhero mentality does not help when we are establishing self-aligning teams. Scrum teams need to be as cross-functional as possible. Every member’s contribution counts and gets supported as needed. The team is the hero.
- Establish definition of done. Completion and closure of a user story come from the agreed definition of done. It needs to be specific and explicit. Some factors to consider when defining done of a task: it should be developed, tested, integrated, and documented. Make sure the definition of done is always visible and refreshed.
- Inspect, adapt, mature and scale. The mindset of scrum is continuous. Inspect the work, adapt to the change, mature by continuous integration and delivery. Scale and bring in larger programs.
Agile software development is just as the name implies—a quicker, more nimble methodology to get work done. The scrum agile method is being used by companies large and small to speed software development. Is scrum right for your company? Let Pyramid Solutions assess your IT function and make suggestions on how to maximize your IT spend.