21 Jul 2020

Using the Agile Scrum Approach in your Next Project

Agile, Methodologies
Using the Agile Scrum Approach in your Next Project

If you work in project management, particularly software development, it would be a big surprise if you haven’t come across the terms Agile and Scrum. But what’s the difference?

The first thing to understand is that they are not opposing but complimentary concepts. Agile is more a set of principles while Scrum is a project management methodology that applies those Agile principles.

So how can you use the Agile Scrum approach in your next project? Let’s start with a quick overview of both concepts and the benefits they provide to project professionals.
 

Boost your career by certifying your skills as a Project Manager

 

THE AGILE WAY

Agile is a practice based on continuous iterations of development and testing. It’s characterised by a series of tasks that are conceived, executed and adapted as the situation demands, rather than a pre-planned process.

It was created 20 years ago by a group of software developers who laid out a set of 4 values and 12 principles. The values prioritise:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;

  • working software over comprehensive documentation;

  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and

  • responding to change over following a plan.

Core to the Agile principles are people working to meet project goals in a way that is responsive to learnings and flexible over a project’s life.

Communication and human interaction are essential. An Agile team will modify a process to meet its own needs rather than forcing the team to work with a process that doesn’t quite fit. Iterative approaches and feedback loops that involve customers and key stakeholders are a key characteristic. The commitment is to employ smart design and minimise, not maximise, the work effort.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide, Agile: Everything You Need to Know.


 

DIVING INTO SCRUM

Amongst the vast array of methodologies and practices that Agile has spawned over the last 20 years, Scrum is perhaps the most widely embraced.

With the Agile principles at its heart, the Scrum approach utilises cross-functional teams to deliver products and services over short time periods of 1 to 3 or 4 weeks. The short “projects’ or blocks of work are known as sprints. With no more than a 4-week timeline, each sprint will have its own goals and work plan for the desired product increment or outcome.

There are clearly defined roles within the Scrum universe, which are centred around cross-functional Scrum teams that are self-organising and decide for themselves how to accomplish their work. 

The Product Owner sets the overall direction for a project, which may consist of multiple sprints and is tasked with maximising the value of the team. The role that looks most like a traditional Project Manager is the Scrum Master. They ensure the Development Team understands Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.

In line with Agile values - people and teamwork are central to Scrum. The Product Owner, Scrum Master and the Development team work closely on a daily basis. A typical Scrum flow starts with:

  1. The product backlog which is a list of all the desired product features.

  2. The Product Owner and Scrum Master prioritise the list based on user stories and impact.

  3. In the sprint planning meeting, the Development team selects the tasks for the sprint and moves them from the product backlog to the sprint backlog.

  4. At the end of each sprint, the team and Product Owner meet to prepare the backlog for the next sprint.

  5. 15-minute stand-up Daily Scrum meetings keep a track of progress and deal with any issues.

  6. At the end of each sprint a demonstration or showcase of the work the team has completed is held for review.

  7. Finally, a sprint retrospective meeting reviews the sprint and evaluates the work recommending any required practice improvements for future sprints.

Scrum is a particularly useful approach where requirements for a project are constantly changing or the end point is yet to make itself completely clear. It is often used in software development where new versions or updates of a product are released on a regular basis.

But Scrum is not purely a software development tool. Organisations apply it in many industries and disciplines such as manufacturing, education, government, marketing and operations.

For Scrum to work effectively it is best to follow its methodology very closely. In fact, there are whole courses and certifications built around it.

 

CERTIFY YOUR SKILLS AS A PROJECT MANAGER

As you move through your career as a Project Manager, it is important that you can show potential employers you have the skills necessary for the role. One way of strengthening your CV is by obtaining RegPM Certification, where you will be assessed for your skills and capabilities as a project management professional.

AIPM will automatically grant the Certified Practising Project Practitioner (CPPP) level of RegPM certification to individuals who have completed a course or certification which includes some Agile credentials. Visit our National Certification page to find more. 


Agile-whitpaper-CTA.jpg