Software development methods have plenty of beneficial frameworks that business-minded people can learn from. They require an unparalleled degree of organization, collaboration, and trust between each team member to be functional. Plus, they know the value of a robust toolset in boosting their efficiency and accelerating results.
In this post, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of scrum methodology -- the most popular agile method -- and what entrepreneurs can learn from them.
What is the Scrum Methodology?
The scrum methodology caters to the belief that software development clients have changing needs. It involves iterations called “sprints”, which can be anywhere from 1-4 weeks long.
Before a sprint, the team will work on a “sprint backlog”, which contains all the tasks and goals to be accomplished. During a sprint, the team will engage in daily 15-minute meetings to review the project’s progress. And lastly, a workable software must be delivered after every sprint, allowing the customer or “product owner” to review the team’s progress. Everyone involved in the project will then conduct a sprint retrospective, which aims to identify what worked during the sprint and what can be improved.
With me so far? Good.
Now that you grasp the basic workflow structure of scrum, it’s time to focus on the values it emphasizes:
1. Establishing Transparency
First and foremost, the scrum methodology will never work if there is no transparency between the development team members. It is needed in every single phase of the development life cycle, from sprint planning all the way to the sprint retrospective.
It doesn’t matter if you run a local restaurant or an SaaS company. If your business is run by more than one person, then you need open communication to make sure everyone is on the same page and pulls toward the same goals.
A simple practice you can adopt is holding stand-up huddles every morning. As the business leader, use this time to communicate your expectations from everybody. Not only will it help motivate your crew, you’re also encouraging accountability by reestablishing their individual responsibilities.
There are also a few ways to keep the communication alive outside the office. If you are to send group email threads, consider including your team’s personal email addresses to maximize visibility. It’s also a good idea to use cross-platform messaging apps like Skype and Slack.
Scrum development teams also make sure the customers and stakeholders are involved with the project’s direction. This, in turn, nurtures trust, improves customer satisfaction, and accelerates brand growth.
2. Timeboxing Goals
The scrum methodology puts heavy emphasis on timeboxed activities. For example, a sprint -- the basic unit of scrum -- is usually constrained within 2-week periods. Daily stand-up meetings are also strictly limited to only fifteen minutes per day, thus, pushing everyone to learn how to communicate quickly and efficiently.
In business, time is one of the vital resources you need to manage, along with money and manpower. It can even be considered as the most valuable since, unlike the other two, spent time can never be reclaimed or replenished.
With timeboxing, you break down big goals into smaller objectives and allocate a precise, indisputable amount of time for each task. Rather than sizing down your expectations, your team needs to step up and improve their focus, inhibit procrastination, and be more accountable. Just be sure to give reasonable deadlines that the team members agree to.
3. Creating Consumer-Centric Backlogs
Every functional company has a specific list of goals that’s typically determined by the top management. A sprint backlog, however, iterates requirements that are based on the voice of the customer.
Remember that your customers should always come first before your brand. It’s acceptable to create projections on where you want to be in the future, but it should never come at the expense of your customers’ experience.
Before rolling out changes in your core products or services, tune in to what your customers actually want. Let them be the deciding force on what to add, change, or eliminate. Running a simple survey on your website with the help Google Forms will enable you to build a backlog that’s tailored to their needs.
4. Prioritizing Value and Attainability
Oftentimes, you see companies that lose their momentum because they don’t focus on delivering results. This, however, is rarely a problem in scrum development teams.
Once the backlog is completed, the tasks are then organized into a public “task board” -- usually according to priority. For each sprint, the team chooses only what they can finish from the very top of the list. If they’re confident enough, they can also pick up a handful of minor tasks from anywhere else in the backlog.
Whatever their approach, the team must always pick the tasks that translate to the most progress. This will guarantee that a workable product can be delivered by the end of each sprint.
Other companies can also operate in a similar manner to attain the fastest and most relevant results. You just need to make sure the objectives are effectively communicated to the entire organization. And for this purpose, a simple project management tool like Trello can serve as your digital task board.
5. Turning Failures into Progress
Finally, a sprint always ends with a review and retrospective that enables development teams to constantly improve. During these stages, two questions must be answered:
§ What worked during the previous sprint?
§ What can be improved for the next one?
The leader of the scrum development team -- also known as the “scrum master” -- will then ensure everybody is heard, including the product owner and stakeholders.
Remember, entrepreneurship is a never-ending journey. If you want your business to thrive, you need to learn how to adapt to changes and embrace challenges as if they’re stepping stones to success. You must also dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning in order to stay competitive, maintain the relevance of your brand, and sustain the success of your endeavors.
Hopefully, you learned a lot from scrum development teams and how they strive towards their goals. If you’re familiar with scrum or any other agile development method, how else do you think their concepts can benefit businesses in other fields? Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!