Home / Blog / Is scrum a “magic pill” for management? Part 2.

Is scrum a “magic pill” for management? Part 2.

09/29/20215 minute read

In the first part of the interview with Valery we talked about how the involvement of staff affects the final result of product development and whether there is a single way to correctly implement the framework into the work of the company. In this article, we discussed scrum events, performance metrics for the scrum team, and the benefits of implementing the methodology for the customer.

How do scrum events (daily meetings, sprint reviews, retrospectives, backlog refinement, sprint planning) affect team performance?

Valery: Scrum events seriously impact efficiency when all tactics are used correctly. If we remove some events and leave others, there’s no guarantee that will experience efficiency.

Are daily meetings different from regular meetings? No! Daily touch bases allow people to discuss tasks for the day and problems and how to solve them. What will happen if we don’t solve these problems? They will come to the next daily meeting, where they will quickly learn what didn’t work and what they need to bring change. Then why does scrum change? Besides the daily meetings there are also sprint reviews, where the team demonstrates the final result.

Everyone is participating in sprint reviews: the team, the product owner, the scrum master, and the stakeholders. This disciplines everyone in terms of communication: You quickly understand that you can’t come to a sprint review without a result. Therefore, after the daily meeting, knowing that you have a review ahead, you train your mind to solve problems. It is enough to get into an awkward position with stakeholders on the call once or twice in order not to want the same awkward position again..

The sprint review is immediately followed by a retrospective that same day. How come? Imagine a sprint review was unsuccessful, and we begin to think about what to do to avoid repeating this again. Having the result shown in the sprint review (even if it is good), we must answer the question “How to achieve a better result next time?”

This order leads to a cycle: events are distributed in such a way that a person becomes motivated to do a little better with each new sprint, because otherwise the meaning of your work disappears.

As for evaluating the backlog, it’s like warming up the engine before starting down the road. This way we make the development process smooth:

  • If you are working on evaluating the backlog, understand the product you are working on, look at a distant goal and understand what awaits you in the near future;
  • This reduces the time for planning tasks, because you know what you need to work on;
  • This allows the product owner and stakeholders to understand how to allocate work in order to efficiently spend money and team resources.

Thus, we build a chain of events that allows us to meaningfully and efficiently carry out the task assigned to us on an intuitive level.

What prevents us from holding an effective daily meeting?

Valery: Scrum is a set of values ​​and principles, not an instruction on how to live and work. If people share these values, they will not turn meetings into a formality. Instead of focusing on ineffective meetings, focus on the values of the team members in the meeting.

As for retrospectives: is it just a review of the team’s work, or is it also a way to rally and improve relationships in the team?

Valery: Retrospectives are not only for analysing a problem. We discuss:

  • What was good;
  • What can be improved;
  • What we can reduce.

This meeting brings the team together: firstly, we praise each other, discuss what was good. How can we eliminate unnecessary work? All these cases are a form of team training. A retrospective can be completed by adding a game element to make it more interesting. You can give a developer the Scrum Master role to make team members feel like they play different roles. If, based on the results of retro, we come to the conclusion that we have nothing to improve, we can praise ourselves. If we only touch on negative aspects, we end up demotivating ourselves.

Let’s talk about performance metrics for a scrum team. What are the KPIs, what are they based on and how to measure them?

Valery: There are many performance metrics. Using an Evidence-Based Management Guide, which provides a number of metrics for assessing various parameters: the innovation metrics, scrum effectiveness, the analysis of how the value of the product is created in the company. Generally speaking, metrics should measure the achievement of goals, then you have a clear idea of ​​whether we are moving in the right way, how scrum works, how the company is developing, and the quality of products we create. It’s worth paying attention to working with subjective assessments from people through surveys: this provides valuable information that statistics will not convey, and indicates potential problems, pain points, fears and obstacles.

We talked a lot about the benefits of scrum for the development team and the product. One way or another, it is the customer who pays for the development of the product and is expecting return on investment. Does the implementation of scrum give the customer and how does it affect their goals and objectives?

Valery: When we talk about team efficiency, staff engagement, and so on, the question arises: if there are people who are investors and product stakeholders who allocate a budget for product development, does employee engagement make sense for us at all? What does scrum implementation give us, what benefits does it provide to the product? In terms of a product, one of the key indicators is ROI. How does scrum help us in this case?

  • Honesty and openness. Scrum says: if you begin developing a large product, consider it as a business project (those who have launched products before understand this very well). Throw away the illusions, because at the start you’ll never know for sure what the market demands, what will be a successful solution and what will not. Exact plans do not provide guarantees and complete control of the situation, they only create this illusion. Scrum honestly says: you know the goal, the approximate path, and you can only go through once you’ve started.
  • Delivering the product in small increments can help us to see the result faster and ask: is it what we need?, is it in demand?, is it suitable for the consumer and is he willing to pay for it? The customer makes a decision based on the facts. It is important to understand that frequent updates always provide relevant and timely facts, since facts tend to become outdated especially in fast moving markets, making the quality of decisions more important. 
  • Risk mitigation: The customer, realizing that their hypotheses are correct can at any time can admit that he made a mistake and change the strategy. When working in linear development, the customer can understand whether this is a mistake or not, after the implementation of the entire project, thus the risks of “expectations” are always lower. In addition, the iterative process allows you to better manage both market and financial risks, you can make changes at any time and change the budget quickly.

The combination of these factors leads to the fact that the creation of a product becomes a rational and effective activity.

Thank you very much, Valery! To sum it up, describe the main advantage, in your opinion, that Scrum implementation brings to the work of the company.

Valeriy: When scrum is implemented correctly and efficiently, we see  transparency, courage, respect, and professional teams focus on their work with a goal oriented mindset. As a result, trust is formed between everyone who works on the project, long and mutually beneficial partnerships are developed, due to which a high-quality product is created.

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