We all know about the benefits that Scrum brings to projects and organizations. This iterative and adaptive Agile framework helps organizations respond faster to customers and change, build better products and bring the focus back on quality.
But how exactly does Scrum work and what kind of projects can be executed using Scrum? Can all teams use Scrum or is there a need to create a specialized team? Let’s try to figure out these and some more answers in our blog.
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Scrum is an Agile framework and by far the most popular, used by 58% organizations surveyed, according to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report. But let’s start at the beginning and understand what the Agile software development model is. Agile consists of methodologies that use iterative and incremental method of development. Teams that use Agile are collaborative and self-organizing and know how to define requirements and implement the right solutions.
The idea of Scrum was first put forth in an article published in the Harvard Business Review. But what revolutionised the software development industry and started the Scrum movement was the use of Scrum as a framework for software development by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in 1995. Since then, Scrum has revolutionized not just the software industry but has found use in sales, marketing, banking, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare and several other sectors.
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Scrum is by far the most popular and widely used agile framework—Scrum Alliance®
The Scrum methodology is part of the Agile umbrella of methodologies and is based on the Agile values that have been defined in the Agile Manifesto, which are:
By following the values of agile, Scrum breaks up a large project into smaller chunks and releases working software frequently. Small teams with a high level of self-organization, collaboration and communication implement the Scrum framework and can bring about frequent releases of product.
What contributes to Scrum’s success? While other Agile frameworks like XP, Kanban etc also give a plethora of benefits, it is Scrum which is most popular. Let’s look at why this is so.
Now let’s look deeper into the advantages of Scrum:
The one thing we have learnt in recent times is that change is the only constant. Customers being customers will always ask for enhancements or add-ons to the product. Also, because the pace at which markets change is so fast, it is common for last minute changes to be demanded by customers from the development team.
Adding last minute changes to a product that is WIP is close to impossible in traditional project management techniques, but scrum is able to successfully manage changing priorities because it is iterative and follows a timeboxed approach to delivering goals. Scrum places the customer before process and principles and responding to change over following a plan.
Just like disrupting markets and changing technologies result in customers changing their product requirements, so also changing market conditions require products to be released faster into the market. There is no point is releasing a product far beyond the time of its relevance. Scrum is built on the foundation of time boxed iterations called Sprints.
At the end of each sprint, working software is delivered. This ensures that a minimum viable product is immediately available for the customer, which can be released into the market. Scrum thus helps in marketing products faster and preserving their relevance. The focus on continuous improvements means that the product is continuously enhanced, and more features are added in each subsequent sprint/release.
Traditional project management often does not focus on quick delivery of business value. The traditional approach over emphasizes on architecture and requirements and takes the focus away from delivering business goals. Agile, on the other hand, aligns business and IT by ensuring quick delivery of working software. By delivering products of business value faster, Scrum helps to ensure that business goals and objectives are met.
In fact, the business side of the project is part of the Scrum team and is represented by the Product Owner. The product owner represents the business and works together with the development team and the scrum master to deliver value. This connection ensures a better link between business and IT. There is open communication between business and IT, which in turn leads to better collaboration and a better understanding of what the business wants, so that the dev team can deliver it.
Scrum has a great number of tools that make collaboration and co-ordination between teams better and offer better visibility into the progress of projects. Tools like task boards, daily stand-up meetings, sprint reviews and more help run sprints, allocate tasks, track projects and help team members and stakeholders have a better idea of resource allocation and project completion timelines and budgets.
Several commercially available Scrum tools help in improved planning, reduced chances of failure and faster response to risks thus ensuring seamless delivery of products and higher satisfaction of customers.
While Scrum is apt for projects of all types in all sectors, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you leap headlong into Scrum.
While Scrum can handle small and big projects, if you have started out on your journey of Scrum adoption then it is better to start with a small cross-functional team and work on a small to mid-size project.
If your project is urgent or complex and needs quick deliverables, then Scrum is the right framework for you.
Scrum can now be applied to projects in varied sectors including healthcare, defence, insurance, government, banking and more.
Your management knows all about the benefits of Scrum and has given you full support in Scrum adoption for the upcoming project. Other teams have successfully completed projects with the Scrum framework, but you are still apprehensive of whether your team will be able to go through with Scrum.
The decision of whether your team should adopt Scrum, or the traditional project management depends on the type of project your team is tackling. It all depends on what to apply and when.
If you have a small team then Scrum will work very well for you. Since the success of Scrum lies in collaboration and communication, having all team members in one place will work better. Although distributed teams find it harder to adopt Scrum, these days cloud technology and tools have ensured that teams distributed all over the world are able to work on a common goal.
An important consideration to note when adopting Scrum is to get an idea of the requirements for product development. If you anticipate a lot of changing requirements, then Scrum would be the best bet for you as it is flexible and allows last minute iterations.
Scrum team members should also display a high degree of adaptability. There may be instances when team members may have to take on multiple roles or even switch roles to deliver value and reach sprint goal. Professionals who are flexible will do brilliantly well in a Scrum team.
The motto of Scrum is “fail first rather than at the end”. Failing fast means you can assess risks faster, work on solutions earlier on and ensure that these mistakes do not happen again. This feature of Scrum helps respond to last minute changing requirements and deliver value to customers. If you are just starting out with Scrum, then it is better to start off with small teams and take on small projects with fewer sprints. This will help you predict the success rate of Scrum and if it is a right fit for your project, team and organization.
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