The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the various activities which are carried out during Scrum, an in-depth explanation of each activity and the benefits of the activity.
Let me introduce you to Ralph. Ralph is the owner of a company called “Right Hire” which specializes in recruitment. His team offers professional and experienced recruitment services to emerging markets for the past 7+ years. The company has 16 recruiters.
One of their clients, a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company has recently approached Ralph with a requirement of recruiting 15 professionals in the next 3 months, on their behalf. They are looking for 4 senior professionals (3-5 years experience) and 11 junior professionals (0-1 year experience).
Ralph considers each assignment as a project. Ralph has been in touch with a few of his friends in the IT industry and they have recently introduced him to Scrum. Ralph was intrigued with the concept of Scrum and has studied Scrum in detail by going through all the information of Scrum which he could gather online. He has decided to use Scrum to execute this particular project.
Ralph understands that there are three main roles in Scrum. They are “The Product Owner”, “The Scrum Master”, and the “Development Team”. Mapping the roles of the recruitment project to Scrum, Ralph feels that he is in a better position to play the role of the “Product Owner”. As a “Product Owner”, he has a clear understanding of the end product from the customer point of view i.e. recruiting 15 professionals in 90 days. Ralph has decided to allocate 5 team members of his recruiting team for this project. This team of recruiters can be mapped onto the role of a “Development team”.
Ralph has a friend, Phil, who is a “Scrum Master”. Phil takes up projects on a freelancing basis and Ralph approaches him for the role of “Scrum Master” for this project. Phil readily agrees to be associated with this assignment on a part-time basis. Phil feels, that he will get a different kind of experience since Phil has been associated with IT projects for most of his career.
Since Ralph is using Scrum for the first time in his project, he feels that it is necessary for the team members to be aware of the three pillars on which Scrum is based and understand the Scrum values as well. He requests Phil, the “Scrum Master” to conduct a small training session on “Scrum” for his team of recruiters. Ralph feels that if he achieves considerable success in this assignment using Scrum, he might use it on a continuing basis on other assignments too. Therefore explaining “Scrum” to all his team members might help them to be prepared in the long run.
Phil explains that “Scrum” is founded on empirical process control theory or empiricism. This asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk. The three pillars which uphold the implementation of Scrum are transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Further, it was explained that the five values on which Scrum is based are commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect.
Phil also emphasises that the Scrum team members should respect each other to be capable, independent people.
Phil further explains that he as a “Scrum Master” will do doing everything possible to help the team perform at the highest level. This involves removing any impediments to progress, facilitating meetings, and working with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is in good shape and ready for the next sprint.
A Scrum project starts with the initial activity of defining a vision of the project/product. Ralph and team check with Phil and he points out that in this case, the vision is quite clear and that is – recruitment of 15 professionals in 90 days. The benefit of this activity is that the team has a clear understanding of the purpose of the project/product and what it achieves for the customer.
The next activity is to define a “Product Backlog”. The “Product Backlog” is a list of functional and non-functional requirements, that when turned into functionality will deliver the vision. This is created by the “Product Owner”. Ralph, creates the “Product Backlog”, in consultation with Phil. The “Product Backlog” consists of the recruitment requirements as given below:
An example of functional requirements is recruiting a person with the said number of years of experience and the required educational qualifications. The non-functional requirements would be to identify candidates who are stable and have no negative feedback on the social media, etc.
The next activity is to prioritize the “Product Backlog”. As it is more difficult to get experienced people, Ralph indicates that the recruitment of the more experienced candidates is at a higher priority compared to candidates who are less experienced.
Defining “Definition of Done”
Phil explains that a product backlog must have a definition of the term “Done”. For this project, the following definition of “Done” was agreed between Ralph and his team. “Done” meant that the candidate had been finalized by the team, approved by the client manager and he or she had accepted the offer letter. Phil was in agreement with this definition.
Normally in a typical Scrum project, the “Product Backlog” is divided into releases. “Defining Releases” is the next activity. But, as this is a recruitment project, it made more sense for the team to make releases as soon as a functionality was complete. i.e. we could say that a release is made as soon as a candidate is finalized.
All work is normally done in “Sprints”. Phil explained the concept of “Sprints” to Ralph and his team. Each sprint is typically an iteration of consecutive 30 days. Each sprint is initiated with a “Sprint” planning meeting which is the next activity.
In this meeting, Ralph met with his team and they collaborated about what could be done in the next sprint. A sprint planning meeting can typically take up to 8 hours. As the requirement is comparatively well defined, Ralph took approximately two hours to list down the detailed requirement and explained the basis on which he had arrived at the prioritized product backlog. The team questioned Ralph on the contents of the Product Backlog. In the end, the team members decided on the number of positions it would close in the first sprint. As the recruitment of senior professionals was at a higher priority, it was decided that 4 team members will focus on closing the 4 positions and one team member will try to finalize at least 3 junior professionals within the first sprint.
Phil explained that every day, the team needs to get together for a 15-minute meeting called the “daily Scrum”. The “daily Scrum” is the next activity and this is typically done at the same location and time every day. In this meeting, every team member has to answer 3 questions-
The purpose of this meeting is to synchronize the work of the team members daily and help each other move forward.
At the end of the sprint, Phil indicated that a “sprint review” meeting should be held. In this meeting, the team presented their achievements during the sprint. The team has met all the commitments as promised. This meeting was also attended by the client who was very happy with the progress made on the project.
After the sprint review meeting and before the beginning of the next sprint, the “Scrum Master” held another activity called the sprint retrospective meeting, in which the “Scrum Master” encouraged the team to revise the timelines and processes to make them more effective.
Finally, Scrum proved to be a game changer!
Needless to say, managing the project using Scrum proved to be a game changer for Ralph and he now intends to manage all his projects using Scrum. The good thing about Scrum is that he can use this even if the requirements are not firm at the beginning and they begin to firm up as the project progresses.
In summary, the following are the various activities which are followed in Scrum-