Success Story: Implementing "Scrum Lite"
The Challenges and Rewards
15 January 2014
Over the past year, we have experimented with running business projects using Agile/Scrum. I introduced Scrum in three business projects, aiming to improve interaction and collaboration between the team members and the product owner, streamlining everyone's efforts to boost productivity and results and limit frustrations.
Very early into the first project, we found that the traditional Scrum approach was too time-consuming for the business team, blurred the boundaries of responsibility among team members and the product owner, and included performance indicators not suited for a diverse business project team. To overcome these problems and still reap the key benefits of Scrum, we made some adjustments to introduce "Scrum Lite."
Forming a Scrum Lite team
The product owner identifies what knowledge is important for the success of the project and selects a team member from each department to contribute.
A Scrum Lite team is a group of noninterchangeable specialists needed for that project.
The importance of time allocation
Once the team is picked, each team member sits down with the product owner, ScrumMaster, and department manager to agree on how they plan to contribute to the project and the time they need to spend on it per sprint.
By committing to spending X amount of time working on a project, a team member permits him- or herself to set manageable and reachable sprint objectives. In turn, the manager can, in a timely fashion, reprioritize or reassign their other responsibilities within the department for the duration of the project.
At the start of the project, the product owner sets a general project objective and identifies the key tasks and performance indicators to evaluate its success.
Presented with the main project objective, the team advises the product owner on how to break it down into individual sprint objectives, and further into collectively exhaustive department-specific sprint objectives. These are then further broken down into tasks.
A Scrum Lite team should meet as often as necessary. We opted to meet once every week, to limit the amount of meetings in the organization. One week we meet for the review and retrospective meeting and a planning meeting. The next week we meet for a one-minute stand-up to share progress and concerns.
We found that planning a new sprint with the entire team is not the most effective use of everyone's time, since each team member works toward meeting his or her own objective(s). We chose to only combine the sprint planning sessions of team members whose work is related or interdependent.
No Definition of Done
Forming a united DoD for all tasks has proven to be very challenging in Scrum Lite. This is primarily because the team members' tasks are unique, diverse, and cannot be held to a unified standard.
We decided that in Scrum Lite, a task is done if it contributes to reaching the department-specific sprint objective. A team member is also free to discard or reevaluate a task mid-sprint if, due to subsequent changes, dependencies, or impediments, a task will not have the desired result, turns out not to be feasible, or proves too time-consuming for its impact on the objective.
Implementing Scrum Lite
Here I've presented a variation on the traditional Scrum approach that we tested last year. Most of the adjustments we made were to cater for the noninterchangeable business project teams.
The key benefits we took advantage of in coordinating our business projects using Scrum Lite last year were clearly defined short- and long-term objectives and transparency into each other's tasks, challenges, and time frames. This united the team, which was forced to plan ahead, and left room for us to respond to changes in a timely way. The cyclical revision of efforts and results motivated the team to come up with creative solutions to overcome challenges and improve results.
Following last year's success, we aim to run more projects using Scrum Lite and to improve the process further.
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