An increasingly complex world of ambiguity requires a more agile and flexible approach to problem-solving and managing projects. This is where Scrum comes in, says Afshin Ardalan of Vancouver, a certified Scrum Master.
Scrum is part of the Agile framework for project management. Waterfall is a more traditional project management method because each task is done separately. The challenge with the Waterfall methodology is that it is time consuming and expensive to go back and make alterations because large chunks of work are completed in each phase.
Agile and Scrum address this problem by continuously monitoring and validating the work that has been completed and by focusing on smaller chunks of work. Some of the hallmarks of Scrum include close collaboration and teamwork and an emphasis on an iterative process.
In practice, Scrum teams tackle work in relatively short phases. The name for each of these steps is “sprint.” The sprints can last between one to four weeks but more commonly run for a 2-week period. There is a well-defined format for conducting each sprint, and it all starts with a sprint planning meeting in which the team agrees on which work items to focus on for that particular sprint. This selection is made based on a list which is called a product backlog.
The team then starts working on the selected items for that particular sprint. The team conducts a short daily meeting to monitor progress and ensure everything is on track. These meetings are sometimes called stand-up meetings because they are intended to be so short that they can be conducted standing up. Around 15 minutes is the norm.
The methodology also prescribes a meeting at the end of each sprint. The goal of that meeting is to review the completed work and discuss what went well and what could be improved for the following sprints.
The central philosophy behind Scrum is to emphasize flexibility and adaptability to ensure a quality product is delivered to the client and maintain the ability to respond rapidly to changing realities and requirements.
Some of the best practices for implementing Scrum:
For the Scrum process to work well, certain best practices have emerged. These include:
- Beginning each sprint with a sprint planning meeting. This is the time to establish a common understanding of the sprint’s goals and how the team intends to achieve those goals.
- Operating with a backlog (a detailed list of tasks) and making sure it’s reviewed and prioritized. Priority items offer the most value to the client and stakeholders.
- Ensure the daily meetings (stand-up meetings) are held consistently and efficiently. Each team member should briefly discuss what they’ve accomplished since the last meeting, what they plan to do next, and any challenges they’re facing.
- Have a sprint review meeting at the end of each sprint to talk about what was done during that sprint. This is the time to demonstrate the completed work and provide stakeholders with an opportunity to provide comments. This feedback will allow the team to adjust the course for the following sprints if necessary.
- Take the time to have a review meeting at the end of each sprint. This differs from the sprint review meeting, focusing on how the team collaborated rather than on specific results obtained. This is the time to review what went well and what may need to change concerning the team dynamics for future sprints.
These best practices have stood the test of time and are key components of the Scrum methodology. Following these best practices and using Scrum project management tools would ensure you and your team remain on track and can leverage the full power of the Scrum methodology.
When to use Scrum
The use of Scrum is widespread within the software development industry. However, Afshin Ardalan of Vancouver points out that Scrum can be used in other areas for numerous projects.
As alluded to earlier, the key characteristics of the Scrum methodology include a focus on flexibility and adaptability, an iterative approach to problem-solving, ensuring transparency, and close collaboration among team members on the project. These principles apply to a wide range of projects within different sectors.
Scrum is usable in fields that have no relation to software development. Some applications include sales and marketing, life sciences, and even construction. The Scrum framework focuses on ideas like working together, being open, and making progress in small steps. These ideas are usable for any complex project in any industry. Scrum has been successful in marketing, education, healthcare, and construction.
Automotive manufacturers may use Scrum for sprints on design, manufacturing, safety testing, marketing, and distribution channels for new product launches.
Scrum is usually associated with making software, but its principles can be used for any project. Afshin Ardalan of Vancouver concludes that Scrum’s main benefits and advantages are its emphasis on facilitating flexibility and adaptability and guaranteeing continuous improvement and progress.