Everyone understands the importance of teamwork. It enables a group to be greater than the sum of its parts and improves performance of team members no matter whether they are working in a small startup or a huge organisation. And Scrum is proving to be one of the most effective team structures ever created.
Scrum has become an increasingly popular type of team structure that is designed to make organisations more Agile. It has been used to great effect by major tech success stories such as Atlassian. It helps drive an environment and culture that maximises people’s individual strengths and helps teams tackle complex projects or product developments.
So what makes Scrum so effective and what are the secrets to making Scrum really excel for your organisation? Read on to learn about the Art of the Scrum.
While Scrum can essentially be used by any kind of project team in any industry, it is particularly well suited to software development or any product developments that require iterative improvements.
What sets Scrum apart and gives it its name is its core team structure. Staff are grouped into small teams (scrums) of between three and nine people that work closely together to achieve common goals. Each scrum’s work is divided into time limited tasks (or sprints) of two to four weeks duration. The progress of these sprints is closely tracked and re-visited in short daily meetings (daily scrums).
Each member of a scrum is assigned one of three roles; the ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or a member of the development team. Let’s take a look at each role more closely:
As the name suggests, the ScrumMaster is an expert in the fundamentals of Scrum and guides and assists the team members to stay within the Scrum framework. The ultimate job of the ScrumMaster is to maximise the performance of the scrum.
The Product Owner establishes and outlines the vision of the product or project. They are responsible for setting the project deliverables and priorities and incorporating the needs of all stakeholders.
The development team is a cross functional group that includes all the roles needed for each individual project. In a software development scrum this will include roles such as designers, developers, architects, and testers. The entire group of people in the development team are jointly responsible for delivering the final product or software in iterative increments.
That covers the fundamentals of Scrum. So how can you take the basic Scrum framework, build on it, and perfect it to really increase the productivity of your organisation?
The complete package
In addition to the simple breakdown of roles within a project team, Scrum also incorporates a full range of tools, meeting formats, and certain ways of performing each of the three fundamental roles that can significantly boost its overall effectiveness.
When utilised effectively it can result in significant improvements in delivery time of very complex and challenging projects, and allow organisations to be far better at reacting to changing needs or embracing new technologies and trends.
The following gives some examples of how each of the fundamental roles can be performed to get the most out of the Scrum framework:
ScrumMasters should avoid telling their team what to do. Instead, the ScrumMaster should focus their energy towards the management of stakeholder needs and requests, allowing the team to avoid distractions and concentrate on their core tasks. The best ScrumMasters are prepared to have the difficult conversations needed with stakeholders to ensure the team won’t lose focus.
The Product Owner needs to be nimble and a great communicator. By regularly communicating with and checking in on the changing needs of stakeholders, the Product Owner can then regularly re-prioritise team tasks and timelines. This allows the Scrum to be proactive and responsive, which greatly increases the likelihood of meeting project deadlines.
The ideal Scrum Development Team acts as an autonomous collective. The team needs the freedom to be able to collaboratively decide on the best approaches to take to meet the project’s goals. Acting autonomously also empowers the team to be creative, be accountable, and helps create a positive culture and build close team bonds.
Ultimately, Scrum is successful when it removes the “them and us” dynamic and instead creates a collective culture where everyone feels that they are in it together to achieve success. Like any framework, Scrum is only as good as the people implementing it (here are some secrets to help you implement it). But when done properly, there is no more effective Agile methodology and it can really help you to unlock the full potential of your teams.
If you’re looking to shake up the way your teams are formed in your organisation, get in touch with Finite IT. We can help you build a scrum team that helps your business achieve its strategic goals.