Agile Methodologies: The Scrum Framework
In the first installment of our “Workplace Methodologies” series, we talked about the Agile method and how adaptability is at the heart of everything it is and does.
Today, we’ll be discussing Scrum, an agile project management framework used in all departments from IT to marketing.
The framework adapts to different teams, environments and clients by breaking down tasks into sprints instead of limiting itself to assigning a deadline and cutting conversation until the product is ready for review.
Get ready to take note. Maybe you’ll find Scrum applicable to your department.
To get the ball rolling, Scrum depends on three key roles: the product owner, the team members and the ScrumMaster.
The product owner is the overseer who ensures the project is heading in the right direction, prioritizing tasks and ensuring the pipeline is progressing as expected.
A team consists of five to nine members specializing in different aspects of the project. However, they all share the responsibility and work together to ensure it is ready on time.
So, if the leadership and the work are taken care of, why do we need a ScrumMaster?
The ScrumMaster wards off distractions and hiccups from the rest of the team. Their job is to keep the team focused on the task at hand.
Once these roles are claimed, we move on to the next phase: organizing sprints.
The inner workings of Scrum
Sprints are periods in which a team is working on a specific task, usually lasting one to three weeks. Once the clock runs out, it’s pencils down.
Each team has the option to hold daily progress meetings to discuss and compare notes.
After a week or two, the team will have a potentially shippable product for the owner to review. The product is ready when it responds accurately to a user story, a concise definition of the user’s needs.
The idea is that no matter how many updates a project undergoes, there will always be a usable product at the end of every sprint.
Teams create different lists or charts to keep the sprints organized.
Take the product backlog, for instance. It details concrete goals for the sprints and overall project, specifying how to achieve them.
A sprint backlog is equivalent to a project pipeline, listing tasks in order of execution.
Finally, a Scrum board illustrates the stage of every task. A team member can list her or her task as “to do,” “busy” or “done.”
To keep the process moving, the team will engage in four kinds of meetings.
The first meeting presents the project and assigns roles, while the second meeting, which could be broken down into daily progress meetings, serves to verify everything is going as planned.
The last two are for feedback and reflection, one is used to present the product and the other to discuss how to tackle future sprints.
Working with Scrum
Scrum’s strong suit is its ability to keep teams producing relevant work. At the end of every sprint, a problem has been solved, or a vital part of a project has been finished.
Take marketing strategies, for example. After a sprint requiring customer engagement, the team will adjust their plan for the next sprint based on the feedback received. However, there is value already in having collected the customer feedback, even if the next step isn’t as successful.
Ria Europe’s Marketing Director, Juan Basurto, commented on his experiences leading our marketing efforts saying, “When planning for a new campaign, we use Scrum to organize our workflow in a way that harnesses our individual skillsets. Our marketing team is comprised of multicultural professionals with differing specialties, so Scrum ensures each person is taking on what they’re best at while helping them retain a big-picture perspective of the task at hand.”
As we’ve been able to confirm, Scrum is simple and can be easily adapted to any and all departments within your company. So, why not give it a try?