Skip to main content

What is Scrum and why do we live by it?

Posted in Tech on May 9th 2014
author photo
COO and Co-Founder

There's lots of things to love about the scrum method! Here at IT Consultis, we swear by this agile approach as it provides the most flexibility, ease, effectiveness, and dare we say even fun, into our web development process. In short, it works!

Unlikely source of inspiration

The Scrum method actually gets its name from rugby. It's that brief period wherein players gather around each other again to restart the game after a minor infraction. Professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka who coined the term back in 1986 were inspired by this seemingly simple routine act because when translated to software development scrum provides many benefits to everyone involved.

The agile model has been around since 2001, and was originally meant for software development. But now even non-IT organizations are starting to embrace its many advantages. In the fast-paced world we live in, a dynamic approach to work made possible by scrum is the best way to go!

How Exactly Does Scrum apply to Web development?

Scrum basically fosters an interactive open dialog between the client (also referred to as _product owner) _and all team members on a regular basis. The client/owner takes a very active participation in the web development process, making sure he or she is consulted and involved every step of the way. Whether it's via Skype, private Trello boards, or even face-to-face meetings, the important thing is that everyone gets a chance to discuss the project. This is particularly necessary during the development of big or complex Drupal and Magento websites.

By devoting small but frequent chunks of time to discuss things, we make sure that everyone can see the progress of a project, give their feedback and opinions on the way it is developing, allowing it to evolve for the best. Obviously, it's up to the client/product owner how much they want to be involved. Fortunately our clients have been receptive to the scrum method and are always excited to see how their websites start coming to life.

So who does what?

Team members

Get to pitch ideas, report their progress or stumbling blocks, offer constructive criticisms of each other's work, and generally keep everyone up-to-date about the project. They can periodically show their work personally instead of just submitting it quietly and anonymously.

This way members are empowered—they take responsibility for their actions and are appreciated for a job well done. Scrum can also be an ice-breaker that refreshes and energizes the group before starting the day's work. At 9:30 every morning it is Scrum time in our office!

Scrum Master

Just like a team leader, he/she facilitates the communication between members and clients, oversees and guides the growth of the project, and generally acts as the glue that holds everyone and everything together.

Client/Owner

Takes an active participation in the project—from planning, conception, development, revisions, to final product. If at any stage of the project, he/she is not satisfied with the way things are going, he can always comment and step in, so everyone else can make the proper revisions and readjustments before it's too late. That makes scrum a time-saver for everyone.

Why do we use Scrum at IT Consultis?

So far we've seen that Scrum allows everyone to pitch in, is effective, dynamic and we love it. But why do we use it? And why do we think your team or agency should adopt this method too? Here are 10 reasons that make Scrum our method of choice:

1. It allows a manageable timeframe for better productivity

In scrum, projects are time-boxed into a series of iterations called _sprints, _which can last anywhere from one week, two weeks, or even a month depending on the needs of the team. Once the time frame is fixed though, members must make sure they meet deadlines and submit deliverables as required.

2. It produces tangible results in fixed periods of time

Scrum lets team members estimate a reasonable time for delivering features and aspects of a product. The target deadline means the team must work efficiently to ensure the deliverables are ready on time. Of course meeting deadlines should never sacrifice quality—each feature of the product is tested and retested before release.

3. It gets Product Owners actively involved in the process

Scrum encourages the PO to take an active participation in the development of the project as it is taking shape. This ensures that the project meets all the needed criteria and that it is ultimately aligned with his/her vision. The PO is no longer just a faceless entity whom only the Project Manager or Scrum Master can get to meet and talk with.

4. It values feedback

At the end of each sprint, everyone can reflect and look back on how things are coming along, what adjustments need to be done, how to overcome needless obstacles, and whether the product is up to the product owner's standards. By taking time to study feedback and track progress—called retrospective—the team is better prepared for the succeeding sprints.

5. It saves unnecessary costs and wasted effort

In scrum, the project grows incrementally rather than being submitted to the client in one bulk offering after months of working on it. In case the Product Owner isn't happy or asks for some minor tweaks, the team can always happily comply and readjust to the request, making the process flexible yet still guided. Because the development is incremental, any potential costs or wasted efforts are minimized. Developers can simply take a few steps back without compromising a huge chunk of previous efforts.

6. It promotes accountability and responsibility among team members

Scrum emphasizes the important role each team member plays so that they aren't just working anonymously in the background. In scrum, teams are guided by the Scrum Master but they are mostly self-organized. Their active participation in the scrum meetings gives them a sense of accountability. They don't just create one single feature of a project, they have responsibility for the entire project.

7. It fosters a deeper sense of teamwork among members

In scrum, daily meetings called daily scrum are essential. It brings the team together not just physically and mentally but spiritually as well. As a result, a sense of camaraderie forms and it is this strengthened teamwork that eventually gets the job done. Another advantage of scrum is that it encourages a more effective and trusting relationship with the client who is not just treated as someone who needs to be pleased, but as a business partner and ally.

8. It reinvigorates the team

Just like in the game of rugby from which scrum gets its name, scrum applied in software development allows team members to plan for the next steps ahead. The daily scrum might just be a brief meeting but it's actually crucial since it refreshes everyone's mindset, clarifies their goals, and reinvigorates them to start the new day.

9. It protects the interests of software developers too

Software development is stressful enough and in the old model, developers are often hard-worked, time-pressed employees. Scrum changes all of that by making the process as streamlined and efficient as possible so that the workload is split into reasonable and comfortable chunks so that developers can perform at their best.

10. It's a flexible approach.

Scrum is originally meant to cater software development but it's such a flexible approach that it can even be applied to other non-IT settings involving project management.

After these great reasons, we sincerely hope you won't need any more convincing and will give Scrum a try within your own teams. If you do, please let us know how you get on! And if you feel like we missed something, we would like to hear from you too!