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Tips for Killing It In Your SCRUM

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So, you’re looking to improve your software development process – fantastic. You’ll probably have come across SCRUM in your efforts and want to know a little more. Well, look no further! Here’s a quick guide to SCRUM, pre-sprint planning principles, and how to make the most out of introducing it to your team.

What is SCRUM?

SCRUM is an agile framework that allows your team to work effectively during a set time period (or sprint), encouraging them to solve their own problems as and when they occur. It’s perfect for the fast paced, quickly changing requirements of rapid application development.

How does it work?

The process is fairly easy. A SCRUM sprint begins with a pre-sprint planning meeting and then short (about fifteen minutes) daily SCRUM meetings for the period of the sprint (usually about two weeks). The sprint ends with a review to demonstrate the functionality added during the Sprint.

A SCRUM is made up of people in three roles: the product owner (responsible for the business value of a project), a SCRUM master (who ensures the team is functional and productive) and a self-organizing team that works to deliver a specific set of work (or sprint backlog) during the sprint.

Sounds simple, right? It really is – but to optimize SCRUM results make sure you follow these tips to keep your SCRUM fresh, focused and as effective as possible.

SCRUM Tips

1. Proper Pre-Sprint Planning

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail (oh yes, I did just drop that in there). During planning, make sure nobody is taking on too much, and make sure the workload is feasible. Be clear about your targets and keep an eye out for potential problems to make sure you’re not over-promising and under-delivering.

2. Stand to Attention

Actually standing during your daily SCRUM helps keeps meetings short and high energy. Working around a task board keeps the team focused – actually pointing at the task you’re discussing will help make it obvious when you’re going off topic.

3. Three Questions

The daily SCRUM aims to discover:
• What was done
• What will be done
• Any impediments to this

That’s it! Don’t get bogged down in gossip or trivial manners, stick to these three questions to stay on task.

4. Say What You Mean

Don’t get your team to talk about what they are going to do – ask them what they are going to complete. Ask them what they completed on the previous day – it avoids all the inevitable humming and hawing when your team members are trying to account for their time. It also aids ownership of a task and makes it clear what real progress is being made.

5. Respect the Time Slot

These meetings are short for a reason – sharing what you need to share and then getting back to work. The time frame lends a sense of urgency to the meeting and keeps it concise and to the point. If issues are arising that do not fit the tightly-defined purpose of the SCRUM then put them in a ‘parking lot’ and discuss them at another time.

6. You’re Just the Facilitator

As a SCRUM leader, if you’re talking too much, you’re doing it wrong. Your team members need to feel accountable to each other – not just to you.

Follow these tips and you’ll see the benefits of SCRUM in no time!

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger who follows the agile philosophy. When not acting as the fearless SCRUM master for her team, you can find her writing about style on her fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

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