Agility is more than a buzzword. It offers a new and updated way of delivering large or complex projects with a flexible and focussed approach. Several frameworks have been developed to help teams follow an Agile approach, and Scrum is amongst the most popular. What benefits can Scrum adoption bring for your business?
The Scrum framework
Agile methods have been around for over two decades and are now used across many industries. Switching to this way of working requires commitment from team members and a shared understanding of the new methods. Defined frameworks are commonly used to implement Agility and maximise benefits.
Scrum is one of the most popular such frameworks. It is a well-defined framework that formalises the Agile approach into repetitive iterations. It defines key roles that should be taken on by team members and an approach to managing tasks and workloads. Communication strategies and fixed meeting plans are also defined for teams to follow.
An iterative approach to flexible projects
Agility, and Scrum, respond to the changing nature of business. Better adapting to change and introducing flexibility is key in businesses today. Approaching projects as static and fixed is not the best way to achieve maximum success. Anticipating the changing requirements of complex projects is a better approach.
Scrum approaches projects using a series of iterations – or ‘Scrums.’ Each iteration aims to produce usable results and take on a subset of the tasks needed to complete the project. The results are reviewed after each Scrum, and any appropriate adaptations to the overall requirements are made. Keeping workers and stakeholders continually engaged in this way is more likely to lead to a successful result.
Translating to project improvement
The end results are what matters, and several studies have shown the benefit of Agile transformation or Scrum implementation. Consultancy McKinsey looked into this in 2020 and showed that the operational performance of teams improved by 30% to 50%. Together with improvements in employee engagement and customer satisfaction, this led to an improvement in project financial performance of 20% to 30%.
Another study (from consultancy Gate One) looked at improvements from the point of view of senior decision-makers. This showed that 60% saw a boost in operational efficiency, and 54% experienced faster product development.
More satisfied customer – and employees
What more can a business want than satisfied customers and happy employees? Scrum has been shown to deliver this too. While it may take some time for all parties to get used to the new way of working and uncertain timeframes and budgets, in particular, the eventual impact is positive.
McKinsey’s study showed an overall improvement in customer satisfaction of 10% to 30%. Agile methods were found to improve the overall customer experience and help the organisation to capture growth opportunities. Internally, team members were shown to be up to 50% more engaged in their work.
Scrum and remote working
We cannot look at improving business today without discussing changes in working patterns over the past two years. In many businesses, significant numbers of employees have been working remotely during the pandemic, and it is likely that much of this will remain going forward.
Scrum works well in this environment. The focus on self-governance means teams are already better prepared for distanced working. Teams are essentially self-managing. Roles are defined, but there is no standard project manager-based structure.
Communication is also a major focus of Scrum. The framework defines an important set of meetings and reviews that must take place. These give key team members a chance to raise immediate problems. This works well with remote working, keeping everyone engaged and up to date, and hopefully preventing project drift.
Challenges to stay aware of with Scrum
Changing to a new form of working also comes with risks. Agile and Scrum are no different, but there are ways to mitigate these risks.
Agile is sometimes criticised for the difficulty to see the overall project and vision and the impact on team members. Following the setup of Scrum, with regular meetings and communication, helps to avoid this. Setting budgets and timescales is also more difficult with a framework that is based on change.
Scrum Training is key to ensure that everyone follows the same approach. Scrum needs all parties working the same way and understanding how iterations proceed, and how tasks are prioritised. Team members need to understand how to work and contribute under a different hierarchy. This comes with important defined roles, including Product Manager and Scrum Master.
Training is not just for those working directly on a Scrum project. The different methods involved affect project stakeholders, senior management and other interacting project teams. Some level of training in Agile methods or Scrum can help embed Scrum more widely in the organisation.