For Agile teams, Scrum is a way to help streamline their workflow and reduce risks. However, it’s not something that’s easy to use in every project or way of working. With companies today needing to keep up with a changing world and business demands, businesses are looking to find ways to enjoy improved flexibility to solve challenges when they arrive. Scrum is an approach that’s being used more and more, thanks to the benefits it offers to teams. Here we will look at everything you need to know about Scrum and how to apply it to your future work projects.
What is it?
At its most basic level, Scrum is a process that helps a team to focus on each sprint with a simple goal. They will then plan, do, check, and adjust the work as needed to get one step closer to their goal. Scrum has been around since the early 1990s and is used to manage complex product development projects. Within the Scrum methodology, you’ll find Scrum teams and a Scrum framework. There are various rules involved in the process, which you’ll want to understand further to see how this can benefit your organisation.
The scrum team
Before getting into the work itself, it’s important to appreciate the purpose of the Scrum team. A product owner will understand your vision for the work and will look after the backlog to create a list of work that needs to be completed. You will also have a Scrum master, who is the one who leads the agile development team. As opposed to being a manager, they are usually considered to be the person who keeps everything running smoothly and helps everyone on the team to understand their role and the overall goals. On top of that, you may have a product manager and a group of team members who will work to create the product or service.
The Scrum team will usually have certain values and should be courageous and daring to work together through challenging projects. They should be dedicated to working towards the team’s goals and have respect for each other. Every team member should be fully focused on each sprint, and the Scrum master will work to keep them motivated during each sprint.
The Scrum team will work with sprints, which usually last under two weeks in length. At the start of each sprint, the team will gather together to plan the work and align their goals. From there, they’ll meet up for a daily scrum to ensure everything is running smoothly and that there are no issues within the team. At the end of each sprint, the sprint review will take place, and on top of that, the sprint retrospective allows the scrum team to explore options for future improvement for the upcoming sprints.
When would a team choose to use scrum?
Scrum is generally recommended for shorter projects, usually lasting for a few months at a time. These projects need to be broken down further into sprints, so they can incorporate feedback throughout the process. It’s a good low-risk option for companies when compared to other project management options. The regular feedback and short sprints ensure that a team can understand their customer’s needs. We also recommend the Scrum approach for teams who are working on an existing service or product with regular releases.
Applying scrum to fixed price contracts
When using Scrum during a fixed price contract, it comes with its own set of challenges. There are certain things we always recommend considering before entering into this setup. Firstly, communication will be key for your success in a fixed price contract. As the customer requirements can change regularly, you’ll want to try and keep these changes to a minimum when working for a fixed price. This can add to the team’s workload and cost your company time and resources in the long run. Allow the product owner to represent your team, and they can be the main point of communication for the team and the end user.
Before you start the work, ensure you take the time for a preparation sprint. This will help your team to be fully prepared for the first sprint in the Scrum and will act as training for the real thing. You’ll be able to get everything ready and begin to identify any potential issues. We always recommend under promising to your customers when using sprints and then overdelivering to impress them. Keep a realistic timescale and workload in mind for each sprint, and then you’ll never have an unhappy customer during the process. You should also ensure you have time to gather feedback and ask for improvements throughout the project.
Your Scrum master will need to work to keep your team motivated throughout the process, as it can feel like a long and never-ending series of sprints otherwise. During the daily Scrum, the Scrum master will need to offer continuous encouragement to their team to strengthen their collaboration. Finally, everyone involved needs to be aware of the changes that may occur during the process from the very start. A fixed priced project still often involves changing requirements, and the Scrum team will need to be patient and know how to react to these. Don’t let changes disrupt the whole team, and find the best way to quickly react and mitigate the issues these may cause.
Using Scrum and its associated sprints is a way for companies to streamline their workflow while also reducing the risks of a larger project. The shorter sprints are only suitable for some projects, so you need to decide whether Scrum is currently applicable to your business. Many companies enjoy the flexibility that Scrum offers them, and when the Scrum team keeps everyone well-motivated, the whole team usually enjoys working in this manner. While fixed-price projects certainly have more challenges when using Scrum, by following the tips listed above, we hope you can apply this approach to future projects with greater ease.