I’m sure you’ve heard it before when hearing a pitch from a Fortune 500 company on how they utilize Scrum as a “heuristic” approach to maintain their business. You’ve heard the fancy jargon, but what exactly is Scrum? Why is it so appealing over other business methodologies? Why is it especially important for consultant companies?
Well, to start, Scrum actually isn’t a methodology. It is a framework that simplifies complex projects in an easy-to-manage structure. It is not a step-by-step guide on how to complete projects, rather it is a skeleton that allows businesses to build efficient processes within teams. There is plenty of room to customize which makes it ideal for complex projects and more appealing over traditional models.
Outdated methodologies, like the ever so popular Waterfall Method, rely on highly idealized plans that often fall flat of customer expectations. This method would require teams to isolate themselves from a client and reunite later to unveil a finished product with zero communication along the way. While it sounds like an exciting reveal moment it isn’t practical for the customer. Projects are locked in when the least is known about a client and their true necessities. By the time projects are delivered, the scope of what is provided may be obsolete.
Just like life, projects are unpredictable. Scrum recognizes that projects can only be successful if real-life scenarios are factored into planning. Rather than make a romantic plan that doesn’t account for any number of scheduling, employee, or data hiccups like Waterfall Method, Scrum stays adaptable.
How the Framework of Scrum Works
The introduction of Scrum, for many, can be an overwhelming amount of information. There are numerous keywords and industry terms, and while the terminology is intimidating the concepts are simple. Scrum is a framework that guides the management of projects and regulates how work is conducted. This is reinforced through Scrum’s key roles, ceremonies, and artifacts.
Key Scrum Roles
Responsible for communicating the vision of the final product and represents the best interest of the customer.
Unit of team members that work collaboratively to deliver the final product.
Leads the Development Team, encourages Scrum practices, and acts as a servant-leader in the best interest of the team.
These roles all have different agendas to fulfill but their overall goal is the same—successfully complete the project. The Product Owner’s job is to make a blueprint for the overall project, referred to as a roadmap, and act on behalf of the customer’s best interest. They will meet with the customer and hear first-hand what they want and will draft a roadmap to accomplish that goal.
That roadmap is then translated into the work that will be fulfilled by the Development Team. A Development Team is a unit of skilled individuals that work collaboratively with the goal being to deliver the final product. Since Scrum has many varying agendas it needs someone to coordinate proper Scrum practices. This is where the role of a Scrum Master is vital. The Scrum Master acts as a servant-leader to their Development Team and works to resolve any internal issues. The Scrum Master also promotes Scrum’s best practices and guides the Development Team to success. That success all begins with proper planning.
Artifacts of Scrum
A prioritized list of all the work that might be needed for the product.
List of tasks that are estimated for effort and are committed to being completed within the sprint.
Definition of Done
The team will assign a “definition of done”, or criteria that must be finished before a task can be marked complete.
Artifacts are items that help capture the progress of projects and keep customers and team members up to date on project status. The first artifact is the Product Backlog, which will act as a point of reference throughout the entire project. The Product Backlog lists all work that needs to be done for the product’s completion and is created based on the roadmap the Product Owner created before the start of the project.
Projects are dissected into incremental goals, similar to passing checkpoints in a race. The entire project is typically dissected into two-week checkpoints called sprints. One sprint’s completion brings the team closer to the overall project’s completion. The Sprint Backlog will represent the tasks the Development Team needs to complete in order to reach their goal by the end of the sprint. Teams will collaboratively assign a Definition of Done for each task so as to establish a level of quality for each team member to uphold.
Ceremonies of Scrum
Based on the Sprint goal, tasks are pulled from the Product Backlog into the Sprint Backlog to be completed within the sprint.
A meeting held once a day where the development team meet for 15 minutes to inspect and adapt their progress toward the Sprint Goal.
Meeting where the Development Team and stakeholders collectively review the completed tasks.
The Sprint Retrospective is where the entire Development Team evaluates how they worked and build a plan for how to improve in the next sprint.
Scrum encourages communication and understanding within teams which is facilitated by Scrum Ceremonies. The proactive Ceremonies of Scrum include Sprint Planning and Daily Standup. The Scrum Master will select a goal for the given sprint and pull all necessary tasks from the Product Backlog into the Sprint Backlog.
This process is called Sprint Planning. The Sprint Backlog will represent the tasks the Development Team needs to complete in order to reach their goal by the end of the sprint. During Daily Standups, team members powwow to review what they completed the day prior, what they plan to work on today, and what obstacles if any are they facing. These regular meetings keep communication channels open and keep quality accountable.
As each sprint ends, Scrum Ceremonies are used to analyze performance. These Ceremonies include Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives. Sprint Review is held at the end of each sprint to allow the client and stakeholders a chance to see the work that has been completed.
After each sprint, the client will review and let the Development Team know what priorities are to be considered when planning for the next sprint. The advantage of the Sprint Review is that stakeholders stay informed on the progress of their project and can notify the team of any necessary pivots or changing priorities for their project.
After the Sprint Review, teams hold an internal meeting called Sprint Retrospective. The Retrospective is used to discuss roadblocks that were encountered and how to use them as learning experiences to better adapt and plan future sprints. This highly iterative process ensures higher value for customers and dependable practices.
Once a sprint is completed, all Scrum ceremonies and practices are followed, the cycle of sprints is continued until the project is complete.
Customers and Employees Win
With Scrum, clients not only gain full visibility into the progress of their projects but are an integral part of the actual Scrum process. Scrum utilizes the knowledge gathered throughout the life of a project and uses it to pivot in real-time to meet changing agendas and place value on a project’s most relevant needs. This ensures the most relevant and highest quality product by completion.
The Scrum framework is simple to understand but difficult to master. If properly followed Scrum is an effective tool to yield higher quality products and foster an open and honest communication style within teams. There is little guesswork about where to go and what needs to be done while giving enough room to move freely for needed improvements. Small teams can see their individual accomplishments and work collaboratively to overcome obstacles. It is ideal for complex projects since larger undertakings can be divided into smaller accomplishable tasks within each sprint.
Transparent Companies Succeed
By implementing a Scrum framework, consultant companies, like Kodella, can better stay informed on the progress of projects and manage customer expectations. Scrum allows stakeholders to become a part of their project’s advancement and ensures that expectations are being met. We are so enthralled with the benefits of using Scrum that even our Group Product Owner had this to say about our Scrum practices, “This structure enables a continuous feedback loop between Kodella and our clients. This allows us to deliver value to our clients quickly, and build upon that delivered value with every sprint iteration.”
Kodella takes it one step further by providing clients with access to our project management boards. There, clients can view when tasks are completed, ask questions on cards, tag related personnel or documents, and watch in real-time as their projects are completed. Scrum is a framework that only works for open and honest companies, which is why Kodella has chosen it as the foundation of how we operate.