Introduction Scrum and Agile
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Project management over the years has developed and grown to its largest potential and has been ever endearing to project managers handling various kinds of projects.
While these project managers don’t have any problems when it comes to utilizing the abundant tools within the project management paradigm, but when it comes to distinguishing the better of closely related or almost similar tools and methodologies, it comes as an SOS to us.
In this article we will be looking at the following topics on scrum and agile :
- What is Agile?
- What is Scrum?
- The differences between the two scrum and agile
- The mighty collaborative view
- Tidbits you need
So, here is a short introduction to what exactly is Scrum and Agile and what is it to be in each of those shoes. So, let’s dive further down into efficient project management.
What is Agile?
When it comes to software development or for that matter the implementation in any other sector in modern times, Agile comes as a standard group of methodologies used in development that is solely based on iterative development.
The iterative development would mean being able to go through a process even after it’s initially completed its round within the project flow. There are various ways within Agile that are used by modern project managers in a bid to achieve complete control of quality and changes within processes in the workflow.
Agile is proving to be quite a crowd-puller when it comes to its efficiency and effectiveness. Here, requirements and solutions are drawn to one melting pot and they keep evolving through high levels of collaboration between teams that are self-organized and sustained but vary in functions. The methodologies under the Agile paradigm often rely on the two aspects of:
These constant iterations make sure that all possible nooks and crannies are tended to and possibly curbed or eliminated, thus, making it possible to conduct many tasks within the project almost simultaneously.
So, the next questions to consider are when exactly to use Agile? Which project requirements need to be considered during Scrum and Agile implementation?
Scrum and Agile projects are very characteristic of having:
- Aggressively short deadlines
- The high degree of complex processes
- New ideas or innovations put to the test
These new ideas can either be new to the organization or to the team working on them, and this is when Agile can unleash its complete potential.
Teams that have been there, done that for their previous project might not need the Agile framework to go through a change again. Think of it as manufacturing, when you keep up the production of cars, you do it day in and day out.
You get accustomed to it and know all the nuances of building it. There’s nothing new that fits in there anymore.
Now, with newness to a process comes the fact that it needs to be a certain level of the complex as well. Agile can’t be implemented just on the novelty of the idea. And, as the name suggests, the agility required can turn a project towards Agile for a successful implementation.
Though initially conceptualized to IT/software projects and development, the Agile approach has slowly seeped into everyday life for professionals and the executive workforce as well, and in some case studies, Agile has even seemed to have been used in weddings planning.
What is Scrum?
What many may not know is that Scrum is, in fact, an Agile methodology with distinctive features. Scrum is well renowned for its simplicity and yet effective in cutting and breaking down complex projects to a bare minimum and utilizing resources efficiently to get work done as an Agile project would want, that is, quick, complex, and novelty ideas.
Scrum is an iterative modular methodology that builds up Agile and can’t be compared with it. Agile forms the framework and Scrum, a methodology within that framework.
Organizing the team, changes in scope, and unclear roles can surely be accounted for projects and determine their success factor.
Being under the microscope, project managers are expected to bring about a whole lot of change when there are even slight variations in these little aspects of a complex project.
To get to the root of this and be a methodology to reckon with, Scrum comes as a sure-shot winner to take care of and bring about improvements in a project or any product development effort.
At the heart of Scrum lays the 3 most important, yet simple questions that can steer your tasks and project alike to its end goal. They are as follows:
- Tasks are done
- Tasks for today
- Pending or issues
To take you through Scrum, I will elaborate the steps in a very generic manner as the methodology itself is simple at its best.
- A Product Owner is responsible for chalking down the tasks needed to be completed in order to reach the project objective. This is called the Product Backlog / Product Wish List. He/she is responsible for allocating time, resources, and priorities for the tasks that will be undertaken in Scrum.
- Once the tasks are finalized, during the phase called Sprint Planning, the team selects the tasks that need to be done based on the priority and the resources available at that particular time. Feasibility is thoroughly checked before moving ahead. This list now becomes the Sprint Backlog.
The team together decides on ways and means to accomplish the list and move ahead.
- The Sprint List is then implemented within a set time frame of the Sprint, during which the tasks are undertaken and subsequently completed, inching the project closer to its completion.
- The team during a Sprint meets in a daily Scrum to discuss the three aspects mentioned above and find ways and means of correcting what didn’t happen as planned and look forward to the next task at hand.
Please note that things can be further jotted down into sub-tasks to be undertaken by the team members. A Scrum-Master is responsible for the daily Scrum’s proceedings.
- At the end of the Sprint, the output should be ready to be moved as a standalone product or subsidiary product that can be workable on its own. Once up and running, a Sprint Review is conducted by the team on the output of their Sprint.
- Once completed, the process is reviewed as well to check if any alterations are needed in the process undertaken, which was troublesome in the Sprint. This enables the team to correct or align any gaps in the process undertaken for this project.
- After this is completed, and necessary amends are made, the next chunk of the Product Backlog is undertaken to go through the entire process once again. And, the cycle repeats itself.
Scrum ensures and enables projects to create the most optimum value in the due course of their life cycles while empowering projects to be as flexible as possible.
Difference between Scrum and Agile
So, if Scrum is a part of Agile, would there be a differentiating factor? While we can’t plot out a difference chart between the two scrum and agile as one is the methodology and one a framework, we can surely elaborate on what makes this combination of concept and method the best the world of project management has ever seen.
Agile project management at its crux aims at getting work done:
- In functional groups
- With small skilled teams
- Using tight timelines
- For new, innovative ideas
Scrum enables this approach in its practical form. Scrum meetings are put in place to get together functional groups that can list down backlogs and accordingly the teams can pick up those and work on them.
Daily Scrum then takes the lead to monitor the proper functioning of the tasks undertaken.
In short, Agile and Scrum walk hand in hand and one is simply not effective without the other.
Scrum and Agile – Project Management
Initially, scrum and Agile project management were conceived and developed for software developments alone, and it was only until recently that this concept was applied to all projects across the organization.
The fame of Agile spread fast and wide as it is posed to be very beneficial and easy to use for all genres of work and businesses.
The benefits of Agile project management inclusive of Scrum are innumerable and a few of them are enlisted as follows:
- Enhanced product quality – Each product idea entering into Agile as input is treated to lock onto high levels of quality, as it is important that the output matches high levels of satisfaction of users. Use of technology is always encouraged in an Agile environment and good design along with sustainable development to products is prodded.
- Enhanced Customer Satisfaction – Keeping customers engaged is really important and Agile makes sure that customers are a priority in any task undertaken. This makes it easier to focus on the project objective and take steps towards it.
- Enhanced Team Empowerment – Asking the team to assist in executive decisions churns out responsible and accountable members for the fate of the project. A self-managing team can bring out the best, creative, and innovative ideas to the table and can allow a member to free their thoughts. It provides for promotions and subsequent high quality of work and work/life balance as well.
- Enhanced Team Collaboration and Ownership – Making team members work closely together can blend minds to fill in process gaps even more efficiently than a single member taking charge. Team collaboration in Agile takes place at all stages and this adds a lot of value to all stages of the processes of Scrum and Agile.
- Effective Team Sizes – A large team mostly deviates from project objectives and goals, and makes it difficult to concentrate on the project. With Agile project management, team sizes are small and the work distribution is based on skill and timelines making it easier for a product owner to track the work is done and the work pending to be completed.
- Enhanced Performances – Performance during Sprint on record has shown a lot of improvement as compared to the waterfall model of project management. Here, since everything is accounted for and in place with timelines, it becomes as clear as still water to find updates and improvement areas in projects.
- Enhanced Control – With clarity in task allocation and resource detailing, Agile provides great control over projects and how they function with the people involved in them. More control demands more quality, and more quality enhances performance, thus, a successful project lifecycle and lifespan.
- Enhanced Project Forecasting – Even with new project undertakings, the end goal and the path to it are determined pre-hand and made clear to the project team. This ensures improvement at every stage of the project way. Forecasting becomes easier and the project undertakings are more subtle.
- Enhanced Risk Management – Risk is taken into account at every sprint and sprint backlog stage, which pushes for and helps put mitigation plans in place at a very early stage in the project lifecycle. Agile pushes the limit to risk mitigation planning and enables project managers to take corrective or preventive measures at every stage.
Tidbits for Perfect Implementation of Scrum and Agile
Scrum and Agile are cultures in themselves. It provides a high level of flexibility that you can utilize for your ambitions and goals. Here are implementation tidbits to keep you always on track:
- Your first and last thought while introducing a task should be whether it is aligning itself to the project goal.
- People are the ones driving projects and risk is highest with them; close monitoring is always needed.
- Consultants can be your friends when stuck, but learn to trust your instincts.
- Do the work yourself before handing it over to a subordinate. Your implementation would then be realistic and you will stay prompt.
- Create an environment of achievement within your team at all times. Prompt that Scrum and Agile are simple and can lead to great results.
- Take feedback on board at all times; from team members and outsiders alike. Judge the feedback before making a decision.
- Stay updated. You own the project, and you should know it inside-out.
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