Sustainable success in the current business climate requires the agility to respond rapidly to customers’ needs and concerns with ingenuity and innovation.
The old approach—engineers talking only to engineers, the production line talking only to those on the line, the head of QA talking only to the QA team, and the IT people sitting in cubicles—may have been good enough to satisfy shareholders, but simply is unable to adapt to the technology-based, customer-focused approach in today’s economic climate.
Satisfying customers now requires developing a complex product quickly. Some of the most successful, continuously innovative IT companies, such Google and Salesforce, for example, have incorporated Agile development, including scrums, to chunk down complex production processes to manageable short “sprints.”
In fact, scrum has become a lifeline for companies that value a customer-driven, innovative product focus. Here’s how.
What is a "scrum" in Agile development?
Scrum is talked about in a number of ways. In Agile development, it describes an approach to production that:
- encourages team self-organization, collaboration, creativity, and customer feedback;
- enables pivoting and refocusing as often as needed to incorporate rapid changes;
- seeks internal and external review with an eye towards continuous process improvement; and
- emphasizes on-time customers solutions.
Scrum.org describes the three roles essential to a scrum: the product owner, the Scrum Master, and the team.
- The product owner has the vision and authority to remind the team where their main focus needs to be and determine the deliverable for each sprint.
- The Scrum Master (SM) is the project’s chief facilitator—a type of symphony conductor who assists the professionals on the team by encouraging each one to play to his or her strengths while collaboratively “listening” to each of the other team members in order to deliver the right product on time and on budget.
- The team is a self-organizing, collaborative cross-section of professionals across functional divisions whose skills are required to develop the product. Scrum Methodology describes a scrum team this way: “a mix of software engineers, architects, programmers, analysts, QA experts, testers, and UI designers. Each sprint, the team is responsible for determining how it will accomplish the work to be completed.”
How does a scrum work?
The scrum approach is dynamic. It relies on the leadership skills and expertise of the SM who facilitates the development of the product in sprints.
Sprints —short spurts of production that allow for immediate course corrections based on product owner and/or customer feedback—not only continually ensure that the project is on track, they also help keep down costs and avoid wasted time. Because they are feedback loops, they are the foundation of a transparent process
- Once the product owner determines the deliverable for the next sprint, a scrum in Agile development requires the SM to plan the work and facilitate moving the team forward.
- Once the SM has checked in with the customer and/or product owner and received feedback, planning the next sprint can take place. Note that in effect, the customer becomes a partner in the process.
- The SM makes sure that team members each are on the same page and clear about the job definition and what will be required of them.
- A scrum in Agile development also requires the SM to identify and remove obstacles to keep the team moving forward, and ensure that the team has the right resources—human and tech-related—and the right timeframe to succeed.
Pivoting quickly and adapting to change is a hallmark of scrum.
Experienced teams get better and better at regarding pivots and changes as the norm. As with any great symphonic orchestra, the longer the project team has collaborated together, the smoother the collaboration and the easier it becomes to offer, receive, and incorporate process improvement feedback.
The scrum approach encourages new ideas, which is key to attracting and retaining customers. That approach only works if feedback is accepted as a normal part of the process, as it is in scrum. That is the reason scrum may well make the difference in successfully maintaining a focus on continuous innovation and customer satisfaction.
To learn more about how our Agile approach creates products that solve your customer requirements, please contact us today.