How to implement Scrum in 7 steps and not die trying

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Let’s discover the 7 steps to follow that tell you how to implement Scrum in your projects without dying during the attempt.

Scrum can be used in practically all types of projects: software development, sales, marketing for the launch of a new product, or in the organization of an event, among many others.

What is the common denominator? It is that multidisciplinary teams function as a unit in order to generate partial and regular deliveries of a product within a dynamic and changing environment.

But how do we implement Scrum in our own projects? The Scrum model supposes a high level of interaction, which positions communication in a very significant place and across to all processes in every moment of the process. With this in mind, I wanted to concentrate on the 7 steps to follow to successfully implement this methodology within your project without dying during the attempt.

1. Defining the Scrum elements

How to implement Scrum correctly in any project mostly depends on not neglecting any of the factors that make Scrum what it is:

  • Product Owner or the one responsible for the product
    It is the person who has a clear vision of what is needed, what is going to be done or manufactured, and the objectives to be met. The Product Owner is who will take into account the risks, as well as what is feasible. Having a clear understanding of who meets the necessary conditions to perform these functions will be critical to the successful implementation of Scrum.
  • Work team
    It is necessary to form a team between 4 and 9 people, which is expected to be multidisciplinary and self-organized to perform the analysis, implementation, design, testing, and other tasks. When it comes to larger and more complex teams, the best thing to do is Scrum of Scrums and split the team.

As a whole, the team is responsible for delivering products in due time and in correct form at the end of each Sprint and incrementally.

  • Scrum Master
    The Scrum Master is the one who guarantees that the team is effective and progressive, removing all those obstacles that block satisfactory progress. Their role does not imply dictating what the team will do or follow, in an excessive way, to the smallest detail. Their main function is to lead the team through the Scrum work system.
  • Sprint duration
    It is necessary to define a window of time, known as a Sprint, which is generally between 1 and 4 weeks and maintains that duration throughout the entire project. In case you do not know how much time is the most appropriate, it is advisable to start with 2 weeks and then find the best timing.

2. Prioritize a list of objectives or Backlog

The pending work to make the product a reality is what we call a Backlog. It is a list of tasks that evolves as the reality of the project, the juncture, impediments, and possibilities become better known.

Given this nature, the Backlog is often considered the roadmap of the product: a single list with all the functionalities, pending activities, and the priority that each of them has assigned.

Usually, a priority list contains 3 types of work items:

  • Epic: High level requirements that give an idea of the work and that possibly are then split into different User Stories.
  • User Stories: Refined and more detailed requirements on what needs to be done.
  • Tasks: The User Stories are divided again into tasks that will be included in the Sprint to start working on the desired product.

It is important to have an idea of the amount of time the project will take, which is why it is absolutely necessary to make an estimation of the next tasks to be performed and understand if there is any crucial information that is not available and that could radically modify the times.

Many times, there will be a lack of information for an accurate estimation, but it is good to know, at least, the dimension of these tasks using methods such as the succession of Fibonacci.

3. Plan the Sprint

In this first meeting, the details of the tasks to be carried out will be refined so that the whole team has the necessary information to get the final product.

At this stage of the process, estimations are made, and commitments are established for the performance of a certain number of tasks and stories, always in accordance with the defined work time. To do this, a joint planning will be made, but if you have already worked some Sprint, the speed of the team is taken into account in order to make a more realistic estimation. The Scrum Master and the team itself will make sure to optimize this speed without losing the objective of fulfilling a realistic plan.

4. Make work and daily meetings visible

During the course of the Sprint, it is necessary to make the progress of the team visible. Therefore, it is advisable to use tools such as TFS, Trello, or use a Burndown diagram or a physical whiteboard to record the status of each item. This helps to measure the temperature of the progress of the tasks and to identify possible delays.

Likewise, every day at the same time, and for a maximum of 15 minutes, the team and the Scrum Master participate in the Daily, where 3 key questions are answered:

  • What did I do yesterday to help the team finish the Sprint?
  • What am I going to do tomorrow to help the team finish the Sprint?
  • What obstacles do I have in my path or in the team’s path?

The Scrum Master is the one who looks after the elimination of obstacles and has a general vision of the fulfillment of the objective defined for the Sprint.

5. Sprint Review or Demonstration

Once the work time has been completed, it is essential to show real progress on the product. Scrum’s own iterative methodology requires visualizing the progress in the product and making decisions in those cases where reality is not in line with expectation. To do this, a review/demo is carried out in which everyone involved in the development takes part: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the rest of the team, as well as any other interested party.

In this open meeting, the team shows only what is finished and can be shown. It may not be a 100% finished product, but it should be a product that is ready to work.

6. Retrospective of the Sprint

Once the iteration is complete, the team reunites to reflect on what went well, what could be done better, and what could be perfected for the next Sprint.

The main thing here is to allow everyone to suggest improvements. In this way, the team takes responsibility for its process and outcome, thus analyzing the options to improve in a constructive way.

At the end of this meeting, the team and the Scrum Master should agree on at least one improvement to the process, which will be incorporated in the following Sprint. That improvement should be documented and considered at the moment of making the next retrospective meeting, always allowing any member of the team easy and free access to it.

7. Immediately start the next cycle of Sprints

Taking into account the previous experience of the team, with obstacles and the incorporation of improvements, the process begins again, and the changes will start to become visible.

The last advice

The improvement of the team will only be achieved with practice. It may not be well understood how to use Scrum until you start and commit to the process, but once you do, it will radically change the way in which your team interacts and collaborates.

Before leaving us, I invite you to learn the myths about Scrum we all must avoid. Now that you are aware of the steps to follow, are you still uncertain about how to implement Scrum? What are you waiting for?