Your developer teams and those who manage them could probably use a bit of help with keeping things on track. And no matter how hard those managers try, using a spreadsheet or a whiteboard isn’t going to do the trick as those projects continue to grow in scope and scale.
That’s when you bring in another system to help keep things humming. But what system? There are two types of project management systems that have become incredibly popular with larger projects: Kanban and Scrum. Kanban is a pretty straightforward system that offers a visual representation of a project’s progression. Although Scrum offers a similar visualization of tasks, it includes a few other features that serve as an attractive proposition for many businesses.
But is Scrum right for your business? Let’s dig into that question and find out.
The Heart of Scrum
The very heart and soul of Scrum is empowering teamwork for very complicated projects. That should offer you a very quick answer to the question. Are the projects your teams typically work on simple or complex? Or, is your company about ready to embark on a major digital transformation to scale up and meet a predicted demand?
If the projects your teams create veer toward the simplistic, Scrum is going to be more than you need. It can be that simple.
But most often it’s not. Why? Because projects shift and grow. At any given time you could see a project grow exponentially because demand insists it. If you’re not prepared when that happens, your projects will come to a standstill. Either that or they’ll balloon into a chaotic mess.
You’ve been down that road before and don’t want to return. To avoid that, let’s go further into the Scrum methodology.
The very heart of the Scrum methodology empowers team members to have the courage to do that right thing and take on challenging problems; to focus on the work done during the Sprint while sticking to the goals of the team; to commit to achieving the goals laid out by the team; to respect all members of the team; and to be open about all work and challenges.
Effectively, adding Scrum into the mix requires your developers to be willing to be very dedicated not just to the project, but to the team as a whole, and to absolutely value those teammates in every way.
If that sounds like a goal your team is either already meeting or is capable of meeting, Scrum might be the ideal project management solution. However, if your teams tend to function well in silos and don’t need to be managed in a more organized fashion, Scrum might turn out to be a disadvantage.
Another thing to consider is that typically employing Scrum requires regular meetings. These meetings (called Stand Up Meetings) tend to be very short (like 15 minutes). But everyone knows how meetings can go for projects. Are your developers okay with regular meetings, or is this a subject that could turn them off and away? You don’t want to see attrition caused by regularly scheduled meetings that might not be necessary.
Along those same lines, Scrum depends on a lot of communication and collaboration. Can your teams function in that way?
The Scrum Sprint
Another very important aspect of Scrum is the Sprint. The Sprint is a fixed-length event where a team works together to complete a set of tasks. A Sprint can be used to complete a single task or a group of tasks. During these sprints, points are assigned to tasks. As a team (or individual developer) completes a task, they are awarded points.
One of the less talked about aspects of Scrum Sprints is that they inspire competition. Some people really shine during competitions. On the other hand, competitions can instill even more pressure on others. Given how much pressure is already on the shoulders of your developers, is adding even the slightest bit more going to be productive or a disaster?
This is a question that will take considerable time to ask and answer. Which type of developers do you have? To add even more complications to this, will you be rewarding the team with the most Sprint points? And do you think that could lead to unwanted consequences? Will it set a precedent you can’t keep up with? Imagine you have to start giving out prizes to keep motivating your developers.
That’s not to say you have to. The benefit of just coming out on top can often be rewarding enough. But you have to know how your developers will handle that level of competition.
One thing you must consider is that Scrum is going to take a way to work into your developers’ processes. Not only do you have to take the time to find the right Scrum solution, but you also have to configure it to work with your teams and projects, and you have to get your employees up to speed.
That’s going to take time. Do you have the luxury of deploying such a complex system into an already complicated workflow?
The Final Choice
In the end, it really does boil down to a simple choice. If you have a team that doesn’t require much in the way of management to keep them moving forward, Scrum is probably going to be overkill that could seriously backfire. If that’s the case, consider a Kanban board to better manage your simpler projects.
On the other hand, if your projects grow more and more complex and you find your developers are struggling to keep up, Scrum is probably just the tool you need to prevent disaster from striking.