Teams that struggle to improve their efficiency should consider using the SCRUM method. It was developed by Jeff Sutherland, a former IT professional. It allows teams to work faster and produce more than they ever imagined. This is a quick overview of the process, but you can find more information at the SCRUM Foundation website.
A team should start by identifying all jobs required to complete a project. This is the backlog, the list of jobs that still need to be done. While there may be dependencies that need to be addressed first, all positions must be evaluated in terms of the customer’s benefit.
The Product Owner is responsible for deciding which priority gets implemented. This decision is based on both the highest value and the lowest risk. This allows them to choose sub-projects that they believe will deliver the product in the most efficient way. The project will not be finished, but the customer can play with it and evaluate its quality. This gives them confidence in the product’s ability to be delivered on time.
After the jobs are ordered, they will be evaluated to determine how long they will take. This evaluation will not give a time frame in hours, days, or weeks but will instead block similar tasks into specific boxes.
The sprint is the initial SCRUM period. Product owners will move jobs into the Doing area based on how long each job will take. The team may not have to do this exact amount of work. This estimation process can be improved in future sprints to make it more accurate. This will make it possible to predict the project’s end date more accurately.
The sprint will begin once the Doing List is created. It will last approximately a fortnight. The process will continue for another two weeks. The SCRUM Master is responsible for overseeing the job. They will supervise the sprint and hold daily meetings for team members to exchange information. These meetings last only 15 minutes and are a stand-up affair with everyone present. All present are asked three questions, and they are answered within that time.
What did you do yesterday in order to help your team complete the Sprint?
What can you do to help your team complete the Sprint?
What are the obstacles that stand in the way of your team?
Answering question 3 will give the scrum master some work to do with the team to address the bottlenecks or roadblocks that are affecting them.
The sprint will end with deliverables for customers and learning for the team. The amount of work performed will be compared to what was expected. This will help refine the planning and estimation process. The future can see a greater variety of jobs being moved to the Doing column. The ideal scenario is that all of them will be in the Done column at the end of each sprint. The team will also look at ways to improve the planning and estimation process. These will all be implemented in the next sprint, and their success will be evaluated at the sprint review.
SCRUM is a cross-functional group. To reduce the amount of waste that can occur when work is moved from one silo, every member of the SCRUM team will be present.
Team members must have autonomy, authority, and the ability to take responsibility for getting things done.
The team will remain small. Any more than nine people will slow down the project.
Communication is essential, incredibly open and honest communication. It is crucial that everyone on the team knows what is happening with the project, from the backlog to the customer deliverable. This is why there is a daily standup meeting and a Backlog/Doing/Done Board that allows transparency and a level of accountability.
People can focus on one task at a time and not get distracted by other issues. Rework is also a good idea. It is essential to correct any error immediately, rather than wait for a future time.
The product owner can add new tasks to the backlog at any stage. These will be completed in future sprints. Although they don’t have to change the scope of work, sometimes negotiations will be necessary to accommodate the most urgent work. This means that customers can change their requirements without significant disruption.
The most important tasks are completed in the beginning, so the customer will get the majority of what they need early on. Sometimes, customers are so happy with the final product or service that they stop working on it. This results in lower costs and earlier finishes.
The customer is happy because deliverables are visible at an early stage. This result is visible to workers, and they all feel the satisfaction of completing a small portion of the work. This is something management can see and forecast more accurately. They are happier. If employees are unhappy at the end, the review meeting can be used to discuss it and make recommendations for future sprints.
This method allows the team to improve their project management process and accelerate their work so that efficiency and delivery increase throughout the project’s life.
I found this quote, which sums up my understanding of the process from the last stages of Sutherland’s book:
“… Fundamentally, people want to be great. People desire to be purposeful and make the world a better place, even if it’s just in a small way. It is essential to get rid of all obstacles that stand in the form of their potential and remove them from becoming the person they can be.