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Scrum and Agile Project Management

This entry was posted on November 01, 2018 by Brent W Peterson

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Some people immediately think of the agonizing group projects they endured in high school when they hear the term “project management.” Like group projects, inefficient management methods can leave people feeling frustrated, unmotivated, or confused. Employees may have to attend meetings that aren’t relevant to them, project deadlines could be repeatedly missed, and the customer’s expectations might not be met. Fortunately, there are methods that can help you avoid these experiences and keep your workplace running smoothly.

Scrum is a project management method with a simple, adaptive framework that can help set goals in all areas of the workplace. One example of this comes from a user of e-commerce platform Magento. In a blog post, Certified Solutions Expert Dan Voss describes the complexities of managing an e-commerce site when online sales reach $1 million or more. The user implemented Scrum while updating his website and highly recommends the Scrum framework to others.

What is Scrum?

Scrum originally began as a new approach to software development, but it was so efficient and customizable that businesses started utilizing Scrum’s framework for project management. This framework was designed to be a flexible, creative team approach to projects that allows a team to address any changes or issues quickly. Scrum also has prescribed events that have a set time frame and provide clear directions for each step.

The first step is Sprint Planning, which is a meeting that determines the goal of the following Sprint. At this stage, all team members discuss the objective of the Sprint and address any pressing concerns. The Sprint Planning is to be timed and not to exceed eight hours. For shorter Sprints, the Sprint Planning phase may be shorter.

  • The Sprint typically lasts for a few weeks to a month, and the implement or product is completely finished during this time. Any changes that could delay the goal can’t be made at this time.
  • Daily Scrum is a daily 15-minute meeting for the Development Team. Here, the team will inspect the work from the day before and plan the schedule for the next 24 hours.
  • Once the Sprint is over, a Sprint Review is held for the Scrum team and stakeholders to collaborate. This is an informal meeting to review the Increment created during the Sprint.
  • The final event is the Sprint Retrospective. During this time, the Scrum Master encourages feedback that could make the next Sprint more efficient.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management teams have a basic framework similar to Scrum that’s designed to develop products, track progress, maximize efficiency, and satisfy the customer. If implemented well, customers will end up with their desired product even if the budget is depleted or unexpected changes arise. This type of project management is based upon the 12 Agile Principles which include people, communications, the product, and flexibility. Agile can best be described by its manifesto, which states:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work, we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Benefits for Businesses

Scrum and agile project management methods are designed to encourage feedback, to avoid delays in projects, and to maintain a consistent work schedule. The Sprint Review is especially beneficial for businesses because they can get feedback and collaborate directly with the customer, rather than spending time negotiating. Communication is encouraged at every step of the Scrum process, which can lead to a more positive work environment.

In the workplace, Scrum teams are self-organizing, so they can decide how to tackle the project rather than being directed by someone outside the team. The team determines the individual best equipped for each task and can get the work done more efficiently.

Similar to a Rubix cube, Scrum is easy to understand on a basic level, but it can take some time to fully master. However, with over 200,000 members in the Scrum community, there are plentiful resources including articles, videos, and webinars. These are available on Scrum’s Resources page.

Benefits for Customers

Scrum’s highest priority is customer satisfaction, and there are several steps taken to make sure all needs are met. Customer feedback and collaboration are welcomed from an agile project framework, because they are excellent sources of new ideas and improvements for your products.

Another key part of transforming to a Scrum framework is making sure customer service representatives are kept up to date on all products and are included in Sprint reviews. This solves the common problem of customer frustration due to the lack of representative knowledge about the product. Enhanced customer service, transparency, and collaborative work environment all lead to happy, repeating customers.