Agile Methodology – Agile Scrum for The Rest of Us
Agile Methodology, or Agile Scrum, is changing the way many agencies handle projects. With the availability of cloud-based project management systems, many firms are letting go of traditional project management. So, what is Agile Methodology? Brandon Whalen, Director of Digital at Arrae Creative in Denver, breaks it down in this week’s guest post:
I’m excited that you want to learn more about agile methodology, project management and scrum. In this blog I’m going to give you a quick breakdown of an agile scrum board and the process to holding a scrum meeting.
To begin, there are a few rules that you must not break:
- All team members are required to attend. If for some reason a team member cannot attend in person, the absent member should attend by phone or by having another team member report on the absent members status. With the agile methodology, everyone ownership in their sticky notes and must report on their progress.
- Team members must be prompt. The scrum master starts the meeting at the appointed time, regardless of who is present. Be on time.
- During the scrum, only one person talks at a time. That person is the one who is reporting his / her status. Everyone else listens. There are no side conversations. Your time is valuable, so you must be efficient.
How Do I Scrum?
The weekly agile scrum meeting should be time-boxed to a 15-30 minute stand-up meeting regardless of the number of team members. The scrum master begins the meeting by starting with the person to his or her left and proceeding counter clockwise around the room until everyone has reported.
Each team member should respond to three questions only:
- What have you done since the last weekly scrum regarding this project?
- What will you do between now and the next weekly scrum meeting regarding this project?
- What impedes you from performing your work as effectively as possible?
Team members should not digress beyond answering these three questions into issues, designs, discussion of problems, or gossip. The scrum master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly, from person to person.
When a team member reports something that is of interest to other team members, or needs the assistance of other team members, any team member can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the weekly scrum to set up a meeting.
Pigs or chickens who cannot or will not conform to the above rules can be excluded from the meeting (chickens) or removed from the team (pigs).
What Does The Scrum Board Mean?
Sticky Notes = Projects or Tasks: Each sticky should be color coded by department, should have a due date, and should include an estimated time for completion. Our agency lists the item or project name, along with the client name. Every sticky should have an owner by the time it gets to the sprint area, and should be reported on every week until completion.
This section of the board is where you define the time and materials required to complete a project. Create sticky notes in the proposal / scoping process that are associated with requested work. By talking to people from each department during scoping, your agency can more accurately build scopes and contracts.
“Parking Lot” Section:
The parking lot is where you keep projects that are happening down the line–this includes ideas for improving internal projects. For example, projects that are happening in 3-6 months should sit in the parking lot until they are ready to enter the next phase.
The project backlog is where you file projects and tasks that are “on deck.” These are the items that are sitting 2-4 weeks out of your to-do list. Your team should update each other on these items and projects every week so the entire team is aware of what their workload looks like down the line.
Bigger projects are also broken down into smaller pieces and assigned to individual team members in the back log. This is where you take ownership of a sticky to make sure it gets moved to completion.
The sprint is the most important section of your agile scrum meetings. It’s where you answer the question “what am I working on this week?” If there is an item or project that you plan to work on this week or has deliverables due this week, it belongs in the sprint.
Items or projects that enter the sprint must be broken down into week-sized pieces. If you can’t complete it in one week, break it into smaller pieces and track your progress along the way.
The QA section is where you store items / projects that are awaiting feedback or approval from a client. Your team will report on these each week to ensure that they are progressing toward project completion. These are allowed to move back into the sprint if client feedback requires you to do so.
The project or item is completed and approved by the client. Boom.
But, I Need More Information!
All of you book worms are in luck. Agile Methodology is a widely used, highly adaptable and extremely efficient approach to project management. Smart people do it. We’re smart. So we’re going to do it. If you want to get more smart… see some of these resources below:
- An Introduction to Agile Methodology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJR-EgHTA4E
- Agile Project Management Lynda Course: http://www.lynda.com/Business-Project-Management-tutorials/Agile-Project-Management/122428-2.html
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Agile Scrum Product Owners: http://blog.smartbear.com/software-quality/the-seven-habits-of-highly-effective-agile-scrum-product-owners/
- Five Agile Methodology Hacks To Keep You From Getting Overwhelmed, Stressed Out, Or Missing Your Goals By A Mile: http://www.forbes.com/sites/janbruce/2014/10/14/five-agile-hacks-to-keep-you-from-getting-overwhelmed-stressed-out-or-missing-your-goals-by-a-mile/
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