Two-Step Ladder for Scrum Optimization

For managing product development, Scrum framework based on agile methodology is preferred as it enables scrum team to collaborate and creatively develop products of highly possible shippable value. For times where industries are changing rapidly, priority still remains the same- delivering a valuable product which will lead to customer satisfaction. Self-learning teams, learning via creative experimentation, in turn, create valuable reasonable increments. This is made possible because of self-organizing functionality offered by Scrum.

The empirical approach adopted by the Scrum, accredits Scrum teams to accept and analyze constantly changing markets and respond to emerging requirements. This approach also focuses on encouraging and maximizing the ability of teams to deliver by the end of sprints. Hence, for a

Scrum team to perform optimally, it needs to qualify by adopting certain characteristics. And with the support of a suitable tool for maintaining records, maximum output can be generated.

First step: Building a committed Scrum team

For a Scrum team, three core roles are needed in the framework. Although there are many other roles that are added to customize the framework, Scrum only defines the core ones. And these teams consist of Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team.

The Product Owner

Product owner, acting as the face of the customer, brings business perspective of the product to the Scrum team. The Product owner is aware of market strategy and takes responsibility for ordering and managing product backlog.

Initially, as Product owner works with product vision in mind, which carries out sustainable development process and thus building a successful product is ensured. Filled with ideas of business models, a Product owner will know perfect timing for application of a particular business model. To deliver maximum value to the customers, next characteristic of a product owner is to focus on the functionality. Because, optimized functionality will be a reason for adding value for the customer. Mastery in the conceptual knowledge of user story mapping is the next attribute of Product owner. This attribute will be beneficial for considering timeline and ordering backlog items. Furthermore, the Product owner must be able to work on strategic, operational and tactical level. Only those who have worked for positions in core roles can work at all the three levels. Finally, what makes a Product owner great- knowing needs and goals of the customer, and ability to exceed customer’s expectation by delivering value before and more than expected.

The Scrum Master

The Scrum master is responsible for airtight execution of the Scrum. By ensuring that the Scrum team adheres to scrum theory, he makes sure the team is following the procedure and can deliver the desired output. The Scrum master acts as point of contact for individuals outside scrum team. It is up to the Scrum master whether to incorporate the changes and help the team to apply the Scrum framework better. Being responsible for sprints, it is Scrum master’s job to make the team aware of challenges and opportunities on their way ahead.

The Scrum master must be aware of five stages of team development. From forming to performing and adjourning it is necessary for the scrum master to work with a proper and collaborative team. Preparing for possible issues or conflicts in advance is another important characteristic of the Scrum master. Prevention being better than cure, knowing how to avoid conflicts is even better. Next quality is encouraging the team to lead and take ownership of their tasks and processes. The Scrum master must know the significance of a self-organizing team. And this is done by transferring agile knowledge and experience to the Scrum team.

To improve employee engagement, game-design elements and principles are applied in non-game contexts. This is known as Gamification. In industry, the concept of Gamification is gaining popularity as productivity and user engagement saw a boost. And finally, the Scrum master must be fine-tuned with the product owner. This quality of partnership will bring spectacular results.

The Team

This team consists of professionals and experts working on a potentially shippable product. They are self-organizing, cross-functional and need to work in synergy to release the next increment. The area of expertise varies for individual contributors in the team, but for product development, entire team is accountable.

The team members are ridiculously competent with the technology. They are the subject matter experts, sharing knowledge and thereby growing experience with other members from varying areas of interest and expertise. They master the art of team swarming. Focusing on lesser points and finishing them one by one; this method is preferred as it follows the principles and achievements are more. Apart from daily tasks, these teams focus on innovating periodically. And innovation is done simultaneously with other works by managing time and multi-switching. This is also necessary keep up with the rapidly changing environment and technology. And finally, an important characteristic of the teams is that they understand the importance of collective ownership. They practice collective ownership by encouraging every member to contribute with new ideas, even in multiple segments.

Next step: Strategy for Agile tool selection

It can be simple or very difficult to choose the tool/s that are suitable for any particular organization. Start with goals. What goals do you need to achieve? Then, what is the level of expertise of developers and testers? For iterations to be conducted rapidly and without interruptions, what is the level of automation? What is to be focused during multiple stages of SDLC? Which tool gives us ability to customize and improve the process?

According to the experts, just like the core roles to be played in Scrum team, a well-designed agile tool must have some core capabilities. Including change management, agile planning and ability to integrate the build continuously, agile tools, when chosen correctly, help to optimize performance of the Scrum team as well.

By climbing this two-step ladder, organizations will find, higher quality solutions are being delivered consistently resulting in improved customer satisfaction.