Getting On Board With Scrum Methodology
Try this rugby-inspired approach to project management.
by Patrick Dugan, PMP
Superior teamwork. Ultra-fast problem solving.
Maximum productivity. Welcome to the world of Scrum, a rugby-inspired
approach to managing software projects. As a 15-year veteran of
project management, I know firsthand that the switch to Scrum -
which shifts most play-calling power to team members on the ground
- can seem a little wild at first. But it doesn't take long to
Here's a basic breakdown of how things work ...
Scrum system has three key forces:
- The product owner, who maintains
a "product backlog" of prioritized
- The scrum master, who is Scrum's version of project
- The development team, a group of six to nine software
developers, analysts, and other experts
Scrums and sprints
Action starts with a planning
session where team members choose product backlog requirements
to complete during their first two- to three-week push or "sprint." The
team then breaks down each requirement into individual tasks; team
members may choose only one task to work on at a time. Progress
on delivering each requirement is measured during a daily scrum
- the rugby term for a pre-play team huddle. The scrum master uses
tracking tools to manage backlog, track sprints, and report daily
Benefits: Breaking down tasks eases the looming stress that
often comes with a big project. Meanwhile, eliminating multitasking
improves focus. Both factors boost productivity and work quality.
The scrum master won't assign tasks or dictate how work
should be done. At daily scrums, each team member reports on the tasks
he or she completed the previous day and what will be attempted
in the new day. They also highlight any roadblocks impacting progress.
Benefits: Counterintuitive though it may seem, when team members choose their own task
and pace, they typically get more done in less time.
At the end of each sprint, the team gathers to show stakeholders
what was completed. They might present new lines of code, exhibit
newly installed hardware, or give a live demo of new product functionality.
Benefits: When team members demonstrate accomplishments themselves, it fosters greater
pride in their work and increases focus on their work quality. The demo allows
earlier and more frequent participation by stakeholders to capture requirement
changes sooner; it also tends to make stakeholders feel more satisfied with
the end result.
So here's my advice: When transitioning from project manager
to scrum master, try to be open to change and give the method a chance
to work its magic. Encourage team members to do the same. Going
through the experience together will make you an even stronger
team. Scrum values progress over processes, and is more focused
on responding to change. At first, having no set project plan can
leave you feeling unprepared. But once you start, you will see
faster and more focused task delivery that you will love.
Further questions on Scrum
methodology and supporting tools? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
and I would be happy to share my experiences.