Scrum is a simple and effective way to introduce  the Agile approach to project and change management in an organisation.

The main drivers of this approach are self management, feedback and incremental delivery.

In this approach, the project is delivered through a number of bespoke teams, each with their own key deliverables. Scrum management is designed to produce outcomes on a regular basis through ‘sprints’. Each sprint is a set time period of no longer than 30 days. Each team is required to deliver a defined key element of their deliverables within each sprint.

The management structure is conducive to enabling short term deliverables to be produced, giving the opportunity to identify errors more quickly, reducing impacts to the overall project.

In a scrum management structure, the traditional project manager role is split out into three core positions-

  • Scrum Master
    • Leadership role but has no direct management authority of the team, creating the environment to enable self-management
    • Ensures scrum is known and implemented
    • Liaison between team and organisation to implement scrum
    • Keeps the team focused on delivering their objectives
    • Resolves issues
  • Scrum Development Team
    • Leadership role with autonomy on developing the deliverables
    • Collaborative resources, multi-skilled and cross-functional
    • Able to self-manage with no assigned roles
    •  Ideally situated in the same geographical location
  • Product Owner
    • Single person with leadership but may also undertake role within a team
    • Main decision maker for key stages of delivery
    • Constantly reviews deliverables and prioritises workload
    • Aware of external factors and stakeholder needs
    • Responsible for overall vision of the team and how this can best be achieved

Workload is managed through a series of scrum meetings. The focus of each meeting varies depending on the stage in the sprint.

  • Planning
    • Occurs at the start of a new sprint
    • Priorities are laid out by the Product Owner
    • Development Team agree the key deliverables achievable
    • The backlog is reviewed to see what, if any, can be incorporated
    • Workload agreed must be realistic and the best use of resource
  • Daily
    • Daily progress meeting held by the Development Team
    • Plan for the daily workload agreed
    • Risks and Issues discussed
    • Task list reviewed to ensure on track with overall sprint plan
    • Must have team involvement, with all members discussing their individual achievements and personal daily targets
  • Review
    • Occurs at the end of the sprint where the outcomes are shared internally as well as with external shareholders
    • The Product Owner reviews the sprint outcomes with the original sprint plan and acknowledges the tasks considered complete and those requiring to be completed in a later sprint
    • Incomplete items are moved to the backlog and are considered for inclusion in later sprints as part of subsequent planning meetings
    • External stakeholders attend this meeting and provide their feedback
    • The scope is reviewed together with the feedback from stakeholders to ensure that the project priorities remain the same and are communicated to the Development Teams
  • Refinement
    • This meeting focuses on the project backlog where every item is reviewed and assessed to see if relevant and assigned an appropriate sprint for delivery
    • Due to the importance of this activity, these meetings are held at least once during every sprint to ensure effective use of resource
    • Effort required to complete tasks in the backlog are also reviewed as the backlog tasks are discussed as this is a factor that can determine priorities
  •  Retrospective
    • This is the final meeting held within a sprint and focuses on the processes used within the Development Teams to deliver the agreed tasks
    • A critical eye s passed over these processes and behaviours with corrective action (if required) agreed for future sprints
    • It is vital that these meetings, run by the Scrum Master, are safe environments, enabling participants to be open and honest in any mistakes made and suggested improvements
    • The Scrum Master must use a variety of techniques to ensure that all impacted stakeholders and project resource provide meaningful input to the discussion
    • All issues identified are the responsibility of the Scrum Master to resolve, initially focusing on those within the project’s sphere of control, but also to flag, and seek to resolve, organisational issues

Scrum management is becoming increasingly popular amongst organisations for particular project types, predominantly ICT projects.