Content of Article
In the era of digitization and innovations, companies face competitions from different sides. One huge challenge is customer satisfaction.
With more specialized market demands the need for new requirements changes every day. Therefore the expectation of agile projects is extremely high. Nowadays it´s not important how many agile teams you can offer to potential customers but the quality of an agile approach in a team that matters. The official role of a Project Manager does not exist in the agile world. Moreover, his responsibilities are distributed among team members.
In the following, I would like to present different practices for an agile business environment.
Scrum has 3 fundamental strategic-strengths. Transparency, Inspection, and Adaption. They are the core of the Agile Manifesto and the backbone of Scrum. However, the heart of Scrum consists of 5 values each team member should follow and live on a daily basis: Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment, and Respect. Only Scrum teams who are aware of the 5 values can optimize their work and ensure customer satisfaction.
What does it mean for your business?
Almost every IT company claims to practice Scrum for their projects but only a handful of companies do so. Scrum is a good option for your business when you have a PO (Product Owner), the Scrum/Dev team and active Stakeholders. If your management is also aware of Scrum processes your baseline for successful project implementations is even better.
Let's have a more quick look at the processes in Scrum.
The PO is the pivotal point in each Scrum project. He shares the vision and innovations with the external/internal Stakeholders as well as with the DEV team. With the help of the Scrum Master, he performs techniques for effective PB (Product Backlog) management and monitoring of work progress. He makes the decisions regarding scope and schedule while safeguarding the interest of Stakeholders with full transparency. Every User story or PBI has its own value and it is the responsibility of the PO to evaluate the greatest benefit of each but the team decides which work items will be pulled into the sprint. The role of the Scrum Master is to ensure a smooth process in every stage and prevent/solve impediments. Especially the prevention of potential future issues marks up a good Scrum Master.
The process starts with our User Stories given by the Stakeholders and consulted with the PO. They are getting transformed into actionable work items on which the Scrum Team will work in a given period of time called a "Sprint". In the above figure, we have 4 to 6 working items that enter our sprint. Only work items that match the DoD (Definition of Done) can be released as a qualitative input at the end of a sprint. Quality is more important than Quantity. The goal of a team is to deliver great value and not as many story points as possible.
So we identified a few key aspects that are crucial for your organization if you decide to apply strict Scrum: Only focus on one project per team, foresighted Scrum Master (very process oriented, protection of Scrum from outside influences), active Stakeholders, PO with reliable hard- and soft-skills.
In comparison to classical Scrum, we have Kanban, an evolutionary process to develop the existing Scrum processes. Strict Scrum sometimes doesn´t give your team the flexibility it sometimes needs while the sprint is in process. The causes can be of all kinds e.g. overestimated commitment, change management, scope & time faults or lack of quality of your sprint product.
Kanban is a process for gradually improving what you are already doing. Similar to the philosophical reflection of "Kaizen" it means change for the good and continuous improvement in all areas of your working environment. Important here is the elimination of waste in the organization system which can be poor processes or even toxic employees.
In order to receive the full potential of Scrumban, your company must foster transparent communication within and across. As a matter of fact, using Kanban in Scrum (or other) processes helps to take a process that doesn't work and turn it into a process that meets your expectations! When applying Scrumban the workflow visualization is very important as it provides quick access to project information to all team members.
The visualization gives an optimal overview of the process workflow and informs us about the number of items our team in each stage, which provides us better communication, performance goals, and responsibility as well as it's boosting a team members self-responsibility.
In other words, Scrumban is traditional Scrum described by the Kanban method. Scrumban is particularly suitable for maintenance projects or projects where frequent and unexpected changes in user requirements are expected. In such cases, time-boxed sprints of the Scrum model are not so useful, but daily Scrum meetings and, depending on the team and the situation, other Scrum practices can be used. They are combined with elements known from the Kanban model, such as visualization of work stages or limitation of simultaneous implementation of user requirements and correction of programming errors.
Combining Scrum with Kanban is extremely beneficial for organizations and teams who strive to deliver 100% quality products, improve continuously, minimize all kinds of waste and reduce the Lead time/ Cycle time of a work item. If you are not afraid of lots of improvements in your processes Scrumban will ultimately lead your organization to large gains in productivity.
As I already indicated in the introduction the Project Manager role vanishes in Agile organizations. Projects moved from only Project Manager-led to Team-focused leadership boosting knowledge among employees. The creator of SAFe (Dean Leffingwell) expressed it with the following quote: "Agility isn´t an option, or a thing just for teams, it is a business imperative". Delivering solutions in the shortest applicable time is key.
SAFe aligns a vast number of agile teams from small scale solutions to more complex systems. SAFe is the knowledge that describes all the artifacts and activities which are necessary for a lean-agile business. It can be separated into four configurations:
- Essential SAFe is the basis for every implementation. The stakeholders and team members put the fundamentals for their main goal and develop the Agile teams, technical agile competencies, and DevOps processes. It can be used for the most basic projects
- Large Solution SAFe deals with complex solutions where many releases and phases are necessary. If your business is in need of completely new software or IT system and one responsible team is not enough due to its complexity consider the SAFe Large Solution level.
- Portfolio SAFe focuses on delivering the right thing with an appropriate level of investment to meet the company's strategic objective. For SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), it can mean to include their complete technical environment.
- Full SAFe coordinates the company's portfolio and all other solutions in the environment which can, of course, differ from complexity and therefore also from SAFe method. It involves the five core competencies of a lean agile enterprise: Lean-Agile Leadership, Team & Technical Agility, DevOps, Business Solutions, Lean Portfolio Management
In case your business needs lean adjustments, consider applying the SAFe methodology.
At INKUBIT, software development is focused on customer satisfaction and results. The usage of tools from Kanban as well as Scrum artifacts allow us to respect the development and follow the agile principle. INKUBITs procedures are comparable with the principles of Essential SAFe due to its organizational structure and approach towards project delivery. Each project is specific and unique which makes it impossible to always follow the same rules which brought us to the principle of continuous adaption to our new circumstances, improving our daily business to a maximum. Our international teams mix the best trends and methodologies which make INKUBIT unique in its business area.