Each day at Premium Leads we stick to the Scrum methodology. If you are already in the ICT world it is very likely that you know about it, but in case you are not so familiar with this new way of working, here I will explain everything .
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What does SCRUM mean?
Scrum refers to a rugby position where the members of each team try to pass the ball to each other as they move as a unit across the field.
And although this methodology was developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the formal birth of Scrum is not something new.
The Scrum as a methodology was born from the work entitled “The new new product development game”, written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka more than 30 years ago. In my case, I have decided to write this post because I love this new way of working that I did not know about until a few months ago.
In my head, a project was usually structured in price, planning and scope. The planning was studied by analyzing all the tasks and distributing them in a Gantt chart. By adding times and overlaps, the final execution time was reached. The sum of the times of the tasks in the scope resulted in the final delivery date: this way of working is known as “waterfall”.
I studied engineering and worked in the construction sector, where there were people / teams who were solely and exclusively dedicated to calculating these plannings. If this way of working sounds familiar to you, you will know that they are very rarely fulfilled. And what is worst: if deadlines are not met, costs will skyrocket and then changes, discussions with clients, anger and damage to the reputation of our company come to play.
So, how can we control all the variables of a project within 1-2 years? What we need is an agile method that helps us to surf each of the variables, reducing the impact of each one of them and getting ahead of the difficulties with time. We would do this hand in hand with the person who most controls the project: the team.
I love surfing and I think this represents the Scrum methodology very well: when you are in the sea, each wave is completely different. The peaks change as fast as the environment and you have to be agile, always on the move to catch the best wave and put yourself ahead of what is coming to be in the right place and at the right time. With this you will be able to paddle less, push yourself more and catch the wave you want.
There is just one main difference: at the sea, you are alone, while in a Scrum you belong to a team.
What improvements does the Scrum methodology entail?
Scrum breaks with the traditional way of working and promises to improve production significantly, meeting deadlines, containing cost, making the client see the progress of the project, improving the happiness of the team and the client…
So far, I have told you that it is a new way of working where everything works out, but I have not explained the method yet. So, if you are into it, get ready because now you are going to know one of the best ways of working that exists.
First of all, let’s do an exercise. I need this to open your mind to what is coming: forget about a project in use, forget about what it should be, about the old, the past. You will not see the projects as before, because here I teach you Scrum.
Scrum is a methodology. Yes, indeed. But it is something more. It is a working ecosystem. And we can divide this ecosystem into two branches: values and method.
Scrum values: align with them or die trying
We all focus more on individuals and it is known by all that we live in an individualistic society. The promotions, the bonuses, the merits… Everything centers on the individual actor. Scrum instead seeks to reproduce competitive teams, the ones that worked best in the world’s companies.
3 common elements are established in said teams. They all have a tremendously high sense of purpose, are autonomous (self-directed, making their own decisions), and are multidisciplinary, capable of completing the project perfectly from start to finish.
The perfect size of these teams is between 5 and 9 people, but so that you know where this number comes from, I encourage you to read this article about the Brooks’s law.
If you do not want to read about it, I will summarize it in a simple sentence: adding staff to a project that is already delayed, delays it even more.
Happiness as the first step to success. Happy people just do better. Happiness precedes results. Happiness works predictively, it is projected into the future and it depends not only on the achievement of the project, but also on the company.
Scrum fosters a happy, motivated work environment where camaraderie triumphs. This is only achieved with the ecosystem that it generates and with the method that follows.
Working longer hours does not mean working better or producing more.
In fact, it has been shown that working longer hours reduces productivity, creativity decreases and it takes us longer to get things done.
Everything that prevents us from moving forward is a bottleneck. This is a concept that goes beyond work.
Scrum fights against the waste of time, of the work that does not contribute. It even fights against multitasking. Did you know that multitasking is what favors waste the most? The change of context is what costs us the most to humans and, simply by changing the context, we lose time and generate waste.
If you are multitasking, sorry. You’re less productive, and I’m not saying it: Harold Pashler says it through what he calls “Dual Task interference.”
Transparency in the process and in the methodology. Anyone can attend Scrum meetings, although with limited participation in some of them.
Executives, clients, board of directors… All these and more are the stakeholders of a project.
Scrum encourages transparency and value delivery through both events and its tools (I will talk about these concepts later). It is vital to take into account the stakeholders and involve them in order to minimize deviations and obtain continuous improvement in projects.
There are no tasks: there are stories. Needs change depending on the characters. The different stories of the project are established and must respond to:
• For whom?
• How will it help?
Stories must be short so that they can be estimated. And there must be a definition of fact for each story, for example, a test that the story must meet.
Method: step by step, the path to glory
Scrum works because sequential goals are set within a set time frame, known as sprints.
At the beginning of each sprint there is a planning meeting. Here it is asked how much work the team can do during the given time (2-3 weeks generally). At the end of each sprint there will be an increase in the finished product. Stakeholders will have something working, something they can touch and see.
Everything in Scrum is based on continuous improvement, the elimination of impediments, and team productivity. There are different roles in the methodology that are levers to achieve excellence in the development of the project. (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about them later).
Next we are going to see several concepts, but in a superficial way. It is more interesting that you become familiar with them that you understand them perfectly in this post. What I’m looking for is to make you want to expand your knowledge about it if you are interested.
The method is made up of events, artifacts and roles.
They are the Scrum phases, with different times and temporalities. They are blocks that unite the Scrum concept and launch us towards optimization, happiness and teamwork.
In short, they are the basis for surfing projects fluently.
Time boxes, of fixed duration. Sprints must be coherent and of similar duration during the development of the project, once it is in process.
It is used to establish work rhythms, where the team knows how much work it can do in that certain set time. This work capacity is measured by story points.
The maturity of the teams is reached as the sprints reach higher story points, which is known as productivity.
Planning and review of the stories to be made during the given sprint. The stories that will be part of the sprint are arranged on a board and these will be the ones that must be done during the sprint.
Daily meeting of only 15 minutes. Every day at the same time.
Those who attend are on their feet to encourage communication and dynamism. It is not a daily report: it is about the whole team knowing where we are in the sprint, feeding the team with detected problems and eliminating future impediments.
Everyone can attend.
The product owner shows the value, the increment, the work done during the sprint. This value must work and meet the definition of done. If something is half done, it is not done.
Improvements are proposed to continue progressing during the following sprints.
It’s a brainstorming meeting on what went well and what could go better in the next sprint. Here, an upgrade is selected and it becomes the most important thing for the next one.
This is an intimate meeting: only the team itself knows how to improve in the best way.
Monitoring, transparency and control elements for any stakeholder of the company.
You might ask yourself, is it necessary for managers to know the status of the project or the sprint at all times? Can other members of other teams have access? Yes. A resounding yes to all these questions.
• Product backlog: stories pending to be made.
• Sprint backlog: stories pending to be made in the sprint.
• Increment-value: stories completed during the sprint.
We usually rely on boards that indicate the status of the project and the sprint, which stories are being worked on and by whom. Status are defined in this dashboard: pending tasks, tasks in progress and tasks ready. We will move the tasks between these columns depending on the state in which they are.
These tools make the work visible.
- Team: self-managed, independent, motivated, made up of those who carry out the tasks and add value to the project.
- Scrum master: the facilitator of meetings, nurtures transparency and finds impediments by minimizing waste (of time, work, etc.). He is the one who guides the team to continuous improvement.
- Product owner: responsible for the product. He prioritizes the product backlog, the pending tasks of the project. He is responsible for maximizing the value and work of the development team.
Scrum tries to establish a suitable framework with the right incentives, giving freedom and respecting people, so that they feel empowered to do things for themselves, and have authority and autonomy.
The ability to improvise is what makes the difference. We live in a changing, agile, fast world and Scrum is the methodology that allows us to surf projects minimizing inconveniences. Scrum determines the purpose of the work.
And this is it, very briefly. If you have found it interesting, share it, or tell me any questions you may have.