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A Step-by-step Guide to Implementing Scrum in Organizations

When I started my Agile journey, I was very much apprehensive about Scrum, because till now we experienced the comfort zone with the implementation of Waterfall methodology, even if it made us fail! Maybe that’s how we human beings are. We feel uneasy with the new changes around us as that changes need to implement from scratch. Looking at the market scenario two years back, there was a survey done by Version One which shows, 58% of the organizations adopted Scrum as their framework to work on the products, today, Scrum has expanded in its share in the market and is being widely used, and moreover, teams are now customizing it as per their need. Let’s see what is Scrum, exactly – in a simple language – it is a way of delivering quality product iteratively and incrementally in a time-box fashion. This is a simple illustration of what the Scrum implementors and others define it, moving with it, why not just explore what they say too- “Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”– Scrum.org“Scrum is an agile way to manage a project, usually software development. Agile software development with Scrum is often perceived as a methodology; but rather than viewing Scrum as methodology, think of it as a framework for managing a process.”– MountainGoatSoftware.comTo set this framework up, we need some roles to support this process, the roles include:Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master supports the team in boosting and streamlining the processes by which they can accomplish their objectives. They also shield the team from both internal and external interferences. Product OwnerThe Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the products produced, they are the owners of the product backlog and makes sure that the backlog is healthy and prioritized.The Development TeamThe Development team is one who creates the product as a whole, they are actually involved in the coding, testing etc, to make sure a quality product is delivered in a time-boxed manner.  They are self-organizing, cross-functional team of people who together are responsible for all of the work necessary to produce a working software or product.Why Scrum? Interestingly, there are reasons behind the popularity of Scrum framework in the technological market, let us look at some-First and the foremost is, “delighted customers”, so far we have been talking about customer satisfaction but now we are one step ahead and focusing on delivering delight.Next, on the list is “improved return on investment”.  Most of the projects have witnessed reduced costs and faster results, which in turn gives confidence to the clients and upliftment to the teams. These look small when we just talk on paper but these are really big advantages of the Scrum that an organization can get.Though we have talked a lot about the benefits that Scrum provides, one must not mistake this as a magic wand that can cure all the problems. There might be scenarios where Agile is not a good fit for your product. It is really important to understand if Agile is the way to go for your product or not! There are many scenarios when we can say that Agile is all we need, to quote some, frequent requirement changes, it is not essential to expend months documenting requirements that may or may not result in what the client wants or is looking for. Next big reason can be, management support for the Agile framework and its philosophy of enabling teams. When we talk about adopting Agile, it is not just a bottom-up approach rather it should go in all directions and more focused from top-to-bottom. If the top management is aligned with the change and merge it with their goals, it will work wonders!Now that we have gone past through the evaluation of Agile adoption, let’s move back quickly to the discussion we originally started with – Scrum!!What if you are asked to implement Scrum for your product? How comfortable will you be to go ahead with this move? I know you might be thinking of all those points that might go into this, no problem, let’s look at it together. For moving about how to implement Scrum, there are few pre-requisites which you are already aware of: Be ready with your product backlogThis is a very essential step in Scrum implementation. To start this up, you have to identify your product owner who can actively work with the Stakeholders and create a product backlog which contains requirements that can deliver value and also are prioritized as per the market need. A Product Owner takes up the ownership of the product backlog. A product backlog usually comprises two kinds of work items:Epics - High-level requirements that are very coarsely outlined without much detail.Stories - More comprehensive requirements for what should be doneDuring the development phase, the teams might encounter some requirements which were not covered in the backlog but are needed, so the team has all the rights to add items on the backlog but only the product can prioritize them.Let’s build our teamDefining a Scrum team is again a crucial step, as this is the team who is required to work closely bound and deliver a quality product. The team will comprise of 5-9 team members which include developers, testers, support, designers, business analysts, etc. All the members in a team will work towards a common goal as set in the commitment. Usually, we strive for creating a cross-functional and self-organizing team, getting the former is quite easy and doable but don’t worry if making them self-organized is taking time. Don’t panic, it really takes a lot of effort and time to churn out a self-organized team!Who will be our Scrum Master?So far, we have the product backlog and the team to work on it, but, where is the person who will make all this go smoothly without interruptions, who will make sure the team is encouraged and being involved productively, who will make sure the team realizes their potential, (the list is pretty long ….). In short, let’s get a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team is effective and progressive. The person will help the team in planning the work for the coming sprints. Here comes TIME-BOXING in ScrumWhen we talk about Scrum, we talk about Sprints. A sprint is a time-box for the Scrum team to commit and deliver items in a short span of time. It usually ranges between a week to a month, whatever the length has been locked for the team, it stays the same throughout. The Sprint starts with a commitment from a team on the backlog items, they develop, code, test, etc. and provide a demonstration at the end of the Sprint. The Sprint closes with the retrospective ceremony where the team reflects on what went well and how can they improve further. Get, Set, Go!! – First drive with the SprintThe Sprint starts with the first gear – Sprint Planning – here the team picks items from the list (typically from the top in the backlog). They set their Sprint goal and start working on the items, during the course of the Sprint, the team will regroup each day for a quick meetup called Daily Standup/Daily Scrum to talk about their progress and if there’s anything blocking their path of delivery. Once in a while, they will stop by, to talk about the next inline items for the upcoming sprint which is called the Backlog Grooming/Story Time. On the closure day, the team will demo the items they have worked on to the Stakeholders or the Product Owner. The Sprint gets over with the last regrouping called the Retrospective where they inspect how they did and work on the ideas to make it better by adapting to it.How we did on the numbersIt is really important to measure our success and failures, it gives us a chance to improve. This applies to Scrum as well. Here, we talk about our burndown charts, yes, these charts can be compared to the ultrasounds or the X-rays we have, they show how we did as a team, anyone can read out the issues and the brownies from our charts. The Scrum Master can understand, just by looking at the burndown, how the team did, the scope change, the blockers and how the team adapted to the new environment. It should be one of the goals for a team to reach Zero by the end of the Sprint in the chart.Overall, I can say, Scrum is really effective if implemented with the right spirit and the focused direction. There’s a Scrum implementation plan which has to be laid out. We have many success stories where Scrum helped the teams deliver the products on time with customer delight. The dynamic participation, teamwork, and collaboration in Scrum Teams make for a more pleasant place to work and most importantly if your teams are happy, they will go to any lengths to make your customer happy. I have been working with the Scrum teams since last 10 years and I must say, they are more contented. So it’s not just about the product or the organization, it is also about the ‘PEOPLE’, it is about us!Master Scrum and learn more about the Scrum roles and process to deliver the best to the users. Be a better Scrum Master with our Agile and Scrum online practice test! 
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A Step-by-step Guide to Implementing Scrum in Organizations

5K
  • by Deepti Sinha
  • 09th Jan, 2019
  • Last updated on 21st Jan, 2019
  • 6 mins read
A Step-by-step Guide to Implementing Scrum in Organizations

When I started my Agile journey, I was very much apprehensive about Scrum, because till now we experienced the comfort zone with the implementation of Waterfall methodology, even if it made us fail! Maybe that’s how we human beings are. We feel uneasy with the new changes around us as that changes need to implement from scratch. 

Looking at the market scenario two years back, there was a survey done by Version One which shows, 58% of the organizations adopted Scrum as their framework to work on the products, today, Scrum has expanded in its share in the market and is being widely used, and moreover, teams are now customizing it as per their need. 

Let’s see what is Scrum, exactly – in a simple language – it is a way of delivering quality product iteratively and incrementally in a time-box fashion. This is a simple illustration of what the Scrum implementors and others define it, moving with it, why not just explore what they say too- 

“Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”

 Scrum.org


“Scrum is an agile way to manage a project, usually software development. Agile software development with Scrum is often perceived as a methodology; but rather than viewing Scrum as methodology, think of it as a framework for managing a process.”

 MountainGoatSoftware.com

To set this framework up, we need some roles to support this process, the roles include:

Roles of Scrum
Scrum Master

The Scrum Master supports the team in boosting and streamlining the processes by which they can accomplish their objectives. They also shield the team from both internal and external interferences. 

Product Owner

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the products produced, they are the owners of the product backlog and makes sure that the backlog is healthy and prioritized.

The Development Team

The Development team is one who creates the product as a whole, they are actually involved in the coding, testing etc, to make sure a quality product is delivered in a time-boxed manner.  They are self-organizing, cross-functional team of people who together are responsible for all of the work necessary to produce a working software or product.


Why Scrum? 

Interestingly, there are reasons behind the popularity of Scrum framework in the technological market, let us look at some-

  • First and the foremost is, “delighted customers”, so far we have been talking about customer satisfaction but now we are one step ahead and focusing on delivering delight.
  • Next, on the list is “improved return on investment”.  Most of the projects have witnessed reduced costs and faster results, which in turn gives confidence to the clients and upliftment to the teams. These look small when we just talk on paper but these are really big advantages of the Scrum that an organization can get.

Though we have talked a lot about the benefits that Scrum provides, one must not mistake this as a magic wand that can cure all the problems. There might be scenarios where Agile is not a good fit for your product. It is really important to understand if Agile is the way to go for your product or not! 

There are many scenarios when we can say that Agile is all we need, to quote some, frequent requirement changes, it is not essential to expend months documenting requirements that may or may not result in what the client wants or is looking for. 

Next big reason can be, management support for the Agile framework and its philosophy of enabling teams. When we talk about adopting Agile, it is not just a bottom-up approach rather it should go in all directions and more focused from top-to-bottom. If the top management is aligned with the change and merge it with their goals, it will work wonders!

Now that we have gone past through the evaluation of Agile adoption, let’s move back quickly to the discussion we originally started with – Scrum!!

What if you are asked to implement Scrum for your product? How comfortable will you be to go ahead with this move? I know you might be thinking of all those points that might go into this, no problem, let’s look at it together. For moving about how to implement Scrum, there are few pre-requisites which you are already aware of:

 Be ready with your product backlog

Prerequisites to implement Scrum

This is a very essential step in Scrum implementation. To start this up, you have to identify your product owner who can actively work with the Stakeholders and create a product backlog which contains requirements that can deliver value and also are prioritized as per the market need. A Product Owner takes up the ownership of the product backlog. A product backlog usually comprises two kinds of work items:

  • Epics - High-level requirements that are very coarsely outlined without much detail.
  • Stories - More comprehensive requirements for what should be done

During the development phase, the teams might encounter some requirements which were not covered in the backlog but are needed, so the team has all the rights to add items on the backlog but only the product can prioritize them.

Let’s build our team

Defining a Scrum team is again a crucial step, as this is the team who is required to work closely bound and deliver a quality product. The team will comprise of 5-9 team members which include developers, testers, support, designers, business analysts, etc. All the members in a team will work towards a common goal as set in the commitment. 

Usually, we strive for creating a cross-functional and self-organizing team, getting the former is quite easy and doable but don’t worry if making them self-organized is taking time. Don’t panic, it really takes a lot of effort and time to churn out a self-organized team!
The Agile-Scrum Framework

Who will be our Scrum Master?

So far, we have the product backlog and the team to work on it, but, where is the person who will make all this go smoothly without interruptions, who will make sure the team is encouraged and being involved productively, who will make sure the team realizes their potential, (the list is pretty long ….). 

In short, let’s get a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team is effective and progressive. The person will help the team in planning the work for the coming sprints. 

Here comes TIME-BOXING in Scrum

When we talk about Scrum, we talk about Sprints. A sprint is a time-box for the Scrum team to commit and deliver items in a short span of time. It usually ranges between a week to a month, whatever the length has been locked for the team, it stays the same throughout. The Sprint starts with a commitment from a team on the backlog items, they develop, code, test, etc. and provide a demonstration at the end of the Sprint. The Sprint closes with the retrospective ceremony where the team reflects on what went well and how can they improve further. 

Get, Set, Go!! – First drive with the Sprint

The Sprint starts with the first gear – Sprint Planning – here the team picks items from the list (typically from the top in the backlog). They set their Sprint goal and start working on the items, during the course of the Sprint, the team will regroup each day for a quick meetup called Daily Standup/Daily Scrum to talk about their progress and if there’s anything blocking their path of delivery. 

Once in a while, they will stop by, to talk about the next inline items for the upcoming sprint which is called the Backlog Grooming/Story Time. On the closure day, the team will demo the items they have worked on to the Stakeholders or the Product Owner. The Sprint gets over with the last regrouping called the Retrospective where they inspect how they did and work on the ideas to make it better by adapting to it.

How we did on the numbers

It is really important to measure our success and failures, it gives us a chance to improve. This applies to Scrum as well. Here, we talk about our burndown charts, yes, these charts can be compared to the ultrasounds or the X-rays we have, they show how we did as a team, anyone can read out the issues and the brownies from our charts. The Scrum Master can understand, just by looking at the burndown, how the team did, the scope change, the blockers and how the team adapted to the new environment. It should be one of the goals for a team to reach Zero by the end of the Sprint in the chart.

Overall, I can say, Scrum is really effective if implemented with the right spirit and the focused direction. There’s a Scrum implementation plan which has to be laid out. We have many success stories where Scrum helped the teams deliver the products on time with customer delight. 

The dynamic participation, teamwork, and collaboration in Scrum Teams make for a more pleasant place to work and most importantly if your teams are happy, they will go to any lengths to make your customer happy. 

I have been working with the Scrum teams since last 10 years and I must say, they are more contented. So it’s not just about the product or the organization, it is also about the ‘PEOPLE’, it is about us!

Master Scrum and learn more about the Scrum roles and process to deliver the best to the users. Be a better Scrum Master with our Agile and Scrum online practice test

Deepti

Deepti Sinha

Blog Author

Deepti is an Agile Coach by profession and Freelance Trainer with over 11 years of industry experience working primarily with healthcare & finance clients in delivering business. She has played a wide variety of roles in the graph of her career, whether it be, management, operations or quality. She likes reading fiction, management and loves to write her experiences. Her colleagues mostly describe her as very detail oriented person with a knack of creativity and imagination. And yes, she loves feedback more than her coffee!!

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Agile Project Management Vs. Traditional Project Management

In this fast-moving world, project management has become one of the most important pillars that are helping businesses run without any glitch in their processes. Both small and large scale organizations around the world are exploiting technology and depending on project management systems to deliver the software development project successfully. Whether it is team workflow management or timing, these tools help to ensure that everything is going well without any obstacles. While there are tens of different project management approaches, Agile is considered one of the most practical and flexible software development mechanism that exist today. It is capable of executing a variety of tasks, but what sets it apart from others? Let’s find it out. 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The table below shows the major differences between Agile project management and traditional project management.                                                                                Table: Agile project management vs traditional project management Why is Agile Preferred and why not the traditional project management? Agile is preferred by most developers and managers because of a variety of reasons. Let’s have a look at the most common ones: Project complexity Traditional: This method is the best fit for small or less complex projects as it follows linear approach. Sudden changes in the project or any other complexities can block the entire process and make the team go back to step one and start all over again. Agile: This is the best methodology to follow in case of complex projects. A complex project may have various interconnected phases and each stage may be dependent on many others rather than a single one as in simple projects. 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It is not the team alone that needs coaching, event management and the company as a whole require coaching.   This is helpful especially when it comes to organizations that are adopting the Scrum framework for the first time.   2. Managing and Driving the Agile Process The Scrum Master is in charge of how the whole process is played out from the start all through to the end. A Scrum Master manages the scope and timeline of the entire project, which in turn guides them to set achievable goals. Therefore, what the team delivers at the end of every sprint has the required quality and supports the larger business goal. They are also in charge of making and implementing changes to the process if necessary. Throughout the lifespan of the project, the Scrum Master is required to monitor the schedule performance as well as the cost performance and make alterations where necessary. The Scrum Manager is also responsible for planning and setting up retrospective meetings and daily meetings. They should plan what can be delivered quickly so that they can prepare the team accordingly. If there is no project manager, it is up to the Scrum Master to document project requirements and proposals, status reports, handle presentations and ensure that they get to the clients.   3. Protect the Team from External Interference Communication is a crucial aspect during the course of a project. However, when the right channels are not used, it becomes dangerous for the whole project. For instance, there have been cases of disgruntled product owners or operational staffs, event management in some cases, going to an extent of approaching an individual team member with their concerns and new demands, and this affects the individual. The Scrum Manager has the mandate to ensure that they are the guardian of the team, speaking on behalf of the team and not allowing direct access to members in case of any concerns.   Managing the Team Working together is what makes any group project successful and that is one of the duties of a Scrum Master; to ensure that there is adequate cohesion amongst the members of the team. The Scrum Master should invest in creating an environment of openness, respect, and honesty so that the team members can feel comfortable with each other and with themselves. Such is important, since an individual would be more resourceful if they worked in conditions where they are not being intimidated, judged or discriminated in any way. In the event of a fallout between team members, a Scrum Master is responsible for identifying, resolving and eliminating the source of conflict. It is also in the power of the Scrum Master to appoint a project manager if it is deemed necessary. 4. Foster Proper Communication Poor communication is arguably one of the fastest ways to ruin a well-planned project, regardless of how good the developers may be. A Scrum Manager needs to be well equipped with excellent verbal and written communication skills to ensure that every piece of information gets to the team, related stakeholders and is delivered accurately and on time. This starts with the initial scope of the project, and it is even more important when it comes to relaying changes. All important changes of scope, project plan, change in timeline and so on should be communicated as soon as possible to ensure minimal interruption to the workflow. A Scrum Master should also ensure that there is a good communication flow within the development team internally, in particular, between the developers and the user experience or visual designers. They should also make sure that other relevant stakeholders know what's going on in the company. This encourages transparency and builds up trust across the whole organization. 5. Dealing with Impediments A Scrum Master should anticipate, identify, track and remove any impediments. Predicting impediments makes the Scrum Master alert to potential threats to the project and ensures that they can easily identify and eliminate them. They find ways to deal with the issues internally, and they can also get help from the larger company or other stakeholders, if it is beyond their power. As part of coaching, the team can be trained to identify impediments themselves or the Scrum Master can select members to remove the barriers once they come up. 6. Be a Leader A Scrum Master should be a leader to the team. They should be ready to come up with new solutions, and they should be open to receiving new ideas from team members and other stakeholders to make the deliverables meet the required standards. They should be able to work with the team and develop and empower the individuals, helping them achieve their full potential as developers and as individuals. They should also be servant leaders in that, it is not all about giving orders for them; they can also dive in and give a helping hand and work with the developers, which is the traditional meaning of leading by example!   Conclusion How do you choose a scrum manager? Above is just a summarized list of responsibilities of a scrum master. The responsibilities and duties may vary from one organization to another or from one project to another, but it does not take away the base importance of having a Scrum Master as part of the development team and the organization as a whole.
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Scrum Master Job Descriptions and Responsibilities...

Agile can be loosely described as a set of predefi... Read More