Scrum is a framework intended to help prioritize tasks and improve teamwork. Through communication, better estimations, and feedback, the process of completing tasks is supposed to move quicker as time goes on. Scrum is used primarily in the software development world, but I’ve had it applied in the accounting and marketing departments. There are also stories of many other projects that are not software based that have had scrum applied.
Scrum is easy to understandEven if you’re not familiar with the scrum process, or you’re new to it, you can contribute and understand what is going on. With a little bit of training, you can understand the roles and expectations everyone involved. Take a look at a chart, the task board, or attend a stand-up and you can get a good idea of what is going on.
Break downsBy going through the planning of a story, I believe you’re actually starting your work! I’ve always been a big fan of planning. In college, I had to account for nearly every minute of my time a week in advance so I could make sure I knew what I could accomplish. When you task out a story, you’re breaking the story down. You’re making a plan, and the team can say, “You’re on the right track!”
I like seeing things organized in a way that I can categorize them. The smaller the compartment, the easier it is for me to understand and accomplish. It helps prevent me from getting overwhelmed which I have done so often in the past.
Task BoardsPhysical task boards are the best! When I’ve seen the task board at its most effectiveness was when each person had their own color post-it and had to get up and physically move the post it to the done column. There is something in your mind that makes you feel good when you physically can move something. However, now I always work on a team where we need a virtual task board. On the surface, it serves the same purpose but I don’t find it as satisfying.
The task board allows anyone walking by to silently take a glance and answer the question of “What is the status?” I hate that question. The task board will tell anyone exactly where developers are at and you don’t need to interrupt.
Stand UpsI can get caught up in my own world. I can get so focused on a story that I lose sight of what the rest of the team is working on or struggling with. When I am operating at my best, my headphones are on, and I will forget that I’m around others. This means I don’t interact with anyone. I prefer it this way.
Stand ups force me to look at people, gather around the task board and listen to everyone speak. They can ask me a question, or I can help them out if I see something going on. The best part is that it is limited to 15 minutes! Of course something can come up that isn’t stand up appropriate and we would talk right after.
ProjectionsI like looking at projections. I like knowing, “On February 28th, we should be done with our project. It becomes a competition for me because I want to then say, “Ok, let’s see if I can finish by the 21st.” It becomes an interesting game for me. This creates an internal challenge.
Projections also allow management to plan around the development team. I have yet to see a better way of setting up projections in software development. If the product owner wants tax calculators to be done by April 15th, set the priorities, do some averages, draw some lines and you should be done.
You even have projections in just an individual sprint. “Can I earn myself an extra day of training by finishing early? Let’s try.” Projections tell you when there are problems, or when things are going well. As long as your team is honest, and thorough with their estimations, there can be a lot of great things to be done with the projections one can generate from the scrum process.
Faster Turn aroundWhen you can deliver part of the software, you should deliver it. You’re going to get reports of inefficiencies, or bugs in this process sooner. The sooner you get feedback, the easier it is to make adjustments. From a development standpoint, this is ideal. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out that you built features based on a misunderstanding.
Clients are also happier because they get to see their product sooner. They’re spending resources and they finally get to see what they’re spending money and time on. Compare that to waterfall, where there is a big bill and they don’t see anything for a long period of time. Usually waterfall involves a dispute at the end as well.
My favorite parts of scrum involve transparency. The organization is there for everybody to contribute to and observe. There are bunch of great things about scrum. These are just a few of my favorite things that I like to take advantage of.