To give you a bit more context, here’s how we use the scrum framework in our day-to-day.
Scrum team: our team is made up of highly skilled developers, testers, product owners, deployment and data engineers, with our main shared goal of improving the ex-plor platform.
Product backlog: essentially this is the ‘to do’ list with new items coming in from various sources and stakeholders. These requests are logged and stored centrally to help us keep track.
Sprint planning: we discuss the items from the product backlog to understand the value that each one offers to our clients. Only then can we prioritise what should be done in each sprint. It’s important to be realistic about timings here so that we can manage expectations with stakeholders for upcoming stages.
Sprint backlog: our product owner prioritises the items for the next sprint, making sure the team agree that the work is achievable within the sprint timebox. This can then be communicated to the rest of the business and clients to provide visibility.
The sprint: we currently work in a 4-week sprint, but it can be 2-4 weeks long, although a consistent approach is essential. During this timebox we plan, develop, test, review, deploy and retrospect our work in order to consider it ‘done’. At the end of each sprint we should have a shippable increment of the ex-plor platform that can be released to our clients.
Daily scrum: a 15-minute timebox each morning to discuss items of work within the current sprint. This facilitates communication amongst the team and keeps a focus on the priority work. We use our kanban board to visually monitor progress and communicate any changes to the plan as early as possible.
Sprint review: once the sprint is complete this is an opportunity to provide feedback to major stakeholders on the work achieved. The session takes advantage of the short iterative cycle to gain early feedback and incorporate any comments into the next sprint.
Sprint retrospective: reflect on the previous sprint and openly discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is not about the work delivered, it’s more around the process, tools, environment and team. The aim being to continually improve ways of working and increase efficiency.
So, with all this in mind, a Scrum Masters role is to understand the Scrum process inside and out, coach the team on how to use it and embed the value it offers. We can help to resolve impediments, which are things that prevent the team from progressing or completing their work. We encourage the team to use past experiences to improve how they could work better next time round. We coach individuals to be self-sufficient, giving them autonomy to make decisions and own their workload, while maintaining a team mindset.
An Agile approach to software development means responding, working and delivering at a very fast pace. Scrum enables us to tackle workloads in a highly controlled and considered way, ensuring each sprint delivers real value in achievable and visible timescales to all involved.