A Scrum for the Office
With the Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place this week in Dubai, I thought it would be relevant to discuss a favorite project management that is derived from Rugby called Scrum. Scrum is a development tool that is most popular amongst programming workgroups but I find it a useful process in any workgroup that needs to meet a deadline on a complex project. Caveat emptor, this synopsis surely will not hold up to Scrum purist, but is intend towards the business team.
Key Roles of a Scrum
A chicken says to a pig, “We should start a restaurant.” The pig says, “That might be fun, what should we call it?” “How about ‘Ham and Eggs’?” The chicken replies. “I don’t think so!” the pig shouts, “I would be committed, you would only be involved.”
The point of the joke is that the pig would be committed (he is the ham) and the chicken would only be involved (my making the eggs), so in Scrum we have Pigs and Chickens. The pigs are the individuals that are committed to getting the project done, while the Chickens are only involved in the project.
Project Owner – typically the business leader sponsoring the project
Scrum Master (team lead or facilitator) – person running the project
Team – people responsible for getting the work done
Clients/Customers/End User – people who will benefit from the project by using whatever the project is producing (client could be an internal entity).
Stakeholders – the people who will enable the project to be completed, external team resources that contribute
Managers – the leadership to empower the team to be successful completing the project by dedicating resources needed
The Scrum Process
The Daily Scrum
A simple and quick meeting for each Pig to report on three things. 1. What was completed since the last Scrum, 2. What will be completed by the next Scrum, and 3. What is limitations are slowing progress or inhibiting it. The last item is powerful and the owner must step up and fix the limitation (often best held as a follow up action but needs to be resolved prior to the next scrum).
The daily scrum could also be in the form of an email communication if the organization does not conform the a culture that will allow a quick fifteen minute meeting.
Sprint Planning Meeting This is when the team outlines the tasks and next steps that need to be completed in the project. Time interval should be weekly or long enough out that it makes sense for the project.
Sprint Review Meeting Held at the end of a sprint to review the progress that has been made during the sprint.
Sprint Retrospective A reflection on the past sprint to discuss what worked, and how things can be improved.
The schedule and timing of these meetings will depend greatly on the project. It is good to have a time break between the each meeting. A sprint might run for a week a daily scrum might be held on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday first thing in the morning. Then have a Sprint Review meeting Friday afternoon to record and discuss the progress. The following Monday morning the team would reconvene and hold the Sprint Retrospective to reflect on the prior week’s sprint. Friday then the team would meet again to hold a Sprint Planning meeting to set the stage for another Sprint the following week.
Scrum works because it holds everyone, Pigs and Chickens, accountable, provides measureable results and immediate feedback while opening a channel for real communication and dialog. It is important to keep the meetings positive and progressing towards the common goal. If a process is not working it is immediately highlighted and has to fixed. Plus it is just fun to say “Scrum”.