Scrum: A Process Framework for Agile Values and Principles
To further develop Baron's project management structure, our goals for constant improvement, and our overall company alignment, we have implemented and become experts with a framework called Scrum. Our process has been instrumental with creating transparency, efficiency, and teamwork plus it now represents the backbone of our company culture. Scrum is a process framework for agile values and principles that promotes collaboration and continuous improvement in order to boost productivity. Within Scrum, every aspect of a project is broken down into tasks, which are kept on hardcopy or electronic tasks boards to visually keep track of the team’s progress and help motivate the team.
Scrum works in sprints, which are fixed iterations, that can be anywhere from one to four weeks. During sprint planning (at the beginning of each sprint), tasks for a project are chosen by the members of the Scrum team. The team then commits to completing these tasks by the end of the sprint. Each task is allotted a point value (voted on by the entire team) that directly relates to the level of importance and the level of effort that is required for it to be completed. The purpose of this meeting is to outline all the work needed to be completed within the sprint and to plan the team’s success. The team outlines how much work they predict to complete within the sprint. They also reflect on the previous sprint in order to understand what worked well and what didn’t work well, so as to continuously improve productivity every sprint. Ultimately, the goal during each sprint is to improve the total team points achieved within previous sprints. The more points per sprint, the more productive the team.
While the sprint planning is a meeting that takes place once at the beginning of each sprint, daily stand-ups occur once a day for no longer than fifteen minutes. The purpose of the daily stand-up is to have transparency on all tasks that have been completed (or still need to be completed), to enable flexibility for unforeseen changes, and to promote teamwork. Most importantly, the daily standup includes discussions on any roadblocks, or issues, that team members may encounter and how other members of the team may be able to help. Each team member specifically addresses the following three questions during daily stand-ups:
1. What did I do yesterday that helped the team, and what now is the specific follow-up action?
2. What am I doing today that will help the team?
3. Are there any roadblocks or obstacles that are in my way?
The Scrum framework creates flexibility, increases productivity, and provides a high level of transparency. Flexibility is an aspect of Scrum, in that changes that are requested during the week can be made, but should be prioritized within the expected tasks selected during sprint planning. This allows for a balance between flexibility and stability, so expected work can still be accomplished but new work can also be completed in a timely manner.
Productivity is increased through self-organizing and autonomous teams. Scrum facilitates open communication and teamwork with its emphasis on continuous team improvement. Additionally, through the retrospective that occurs at the beginning of each sprint, process improvements are constantly implemented and superfluous tasks are trimmed to promote efficiency.
Transparency is related to flexibility and productivity in that it allows each member of the team to see the progress of projects and what every team member is doing over the course of their day and their sprint. This transparency along with the declaration of roadblocks fosters collaboration in tasks by encouraging team members to help each other.
For further information about Scrum or other agile methodologies, feel free to contact anyone from the Baron team.