Agile is a framework that allows you to manage all kinds of projects. A popular way of working Agile is Scrum. Scrum is a great way to run almost any project. That’s why more and more companies use choose to work agile. Like ING, where they run many projects and programs using Scrum.
Many organizations have a clear mission (“Why do we exist?”). In an Agile organisation, the strategy (“How do we get there?”) moves in line with changes in societies and markets.
An Agile organization’s projects are executed by multidisciplinary teams. The members of these teams have various areas of expertise, can act quickly and independently and always want to improve. According to the Scrum approach, such a team is made up of three roles:
- Scrum team: self-organizing, multidisciplinary team, whose members feel a joint responsibility for the end result.
- Scrum Master: ensures that the entire team can work to the best of its ability and achieve optimal results. Problem solver, teacher and guardian of Agile working according to Scrum.
- Product Owner: defines and monitors the project’s vision from the customer perspective, sets priorities and requirements, determines the subsequent deliverables that the Scrum team will provide and has the mandate to make decisions on behalf of the client.
Short cycles (sprints), each resulting in a working product(part)
An Agile organization works in cycles of usually 1-6 weeks, making them a kind of mini projects. In Scrum, these cycles are called ‘sprints’. At the beginning of each sprint, the Product Owner steps in to provide direction as voice of the customer’. And at the end of each sprint, the team has produced a working (part of the) product on which he or she gives feedback. In this way, Agile teams deliver tangible results in short consecutive time frames, they learn about the product and the process, and they determine whether they want to approach the next sprint differently.
Clarity about the progress
In Agile organizations, everyone is aware of the project’s progress at all times. In Scrum, for example, this is ensured by holding ceremonies:
- Project start: the Scrum team and Product Owner discuss the goal of the project, the intended end result, the deadline, the budget, and who will contribute.
- Sprint planning: under the guidance of the Scrum Master, the Scrum team discusses what they will deliver at the end of this sprint, and who will do what and when.
- Daily stand-up: daily (standing) discussion of the Scrum team on the progress of the project and potential bottlenecks.
- Review: completion and demonstration of sprint results. The client and other stakeholders give feedback.
- Retrospective: Scrum team evaluates its own performance and improves the process.
Clear communication and responsibilities
Scrum teams use lists to make the work process transparent for everyone involved:
- Prioritized Product Backlog: list of characteristics and requirements of the end product, sorted by priority. Involved parties make this list at the start of the project and update it during the project.
- Sprint Backlog: selection of items in the Product Backlog: this is what we will make during this sprint.
- Definition of Done: criteria for the Scrum team and the Product Owner on determining whether the result of a sprint is complete enough.
- Scrum Board: a board with three columns: ‘To do’, ‘Busy’ and ‘Done’. This is where the Scrum team posts the tasks needed for the current sprint and moves them along the columns during the sprint. At the end of the sprint everything is in “Done”.