Managing Software Development Projects with Scrum

When you sit down to think about your USP – Unique Selling Proposition that gives your Web Design and Development business a competitive advantage over other companies, Price, Quality, Efficiency and Reliability are obvious metrics you will consider. To deliver on these, there are multiple processes that need to be put in place and today we will explore one very critical aspect.

Project Management is extremely critical to any business, let alone the Design and Development Business. The basics of project management include:

  • Assessing incoming work
  • Streamlining projects
  • Assigning tasks to the team
  • Managing communication with the client for requirements
  • Allocating resources
  • Setting deadlines, goals, targets
  • Time management

For any business to function smoothly and professionally especially in an industry like ours, some amount of project management is required. If you’re thinking of starting your own web design / development agency or a small business, project management is a great skill to have.

Taking project management one step further, I’d like to introduce you to SCRUM for you as a software developer.

What is Scrum Management?

The Scrum process was created by Jeff Sutherland in 1993 after he borrowed the term “scrum” from an analogy put forth by Takeuchi and Nonaka in a 1986 study. The study compared high performing, cross-functional teams to the scrum formation in rugby games.

In simple terms, Scrum is a software project management tool. It is often referred to as an “agile software development model” based on various smaller teams working interdependently and intensely on a project.

What are the advantages of a Scrum approach of management?

  • It projects a professional outlook to clients
  • It improves efficiency of all teams and boosts morale
  • It inculcates the discipline of realistic modules
  • The reviewing process allows for all teams to assess their progress and stay committed to the goal
  • It brings structure to the process by allowing for feedback, regular and continuous improvements
  • It results in increased ROI through reviews directly from stakeholder, fewer cost defects, less wasted work and effort, faster deployments and  reduced cost of failure

As a professional in the Web Design and Development industry, how does this benefit you? Adopting a certified Project Management method can be a great pitch point when you meet potential clients!

Why Project Management – The Dutch Railway Case Study

The Dutch railway was among the most heavily used in the world, providing transport to 1.2 million passengers daily. The Dutch railway wanted to build a new information system to deliver to travelers more accurate information which required less manual intervention. After having failed with a previous team using the traditional waterfall technique, they hired a team (comprising of Dutch and Indians) to build a PUB (publish) system that controls information and displays audio broadcast in all stations.

Using the Scrum technique, the team’s first step was to decide on how to do pair programming, use tools, quality targets, core hours etc.

In the first round of iterations, the team proved to be able to build, test and demonstrate user stores. This pleased the customer because:

1) Progress was demonstrated earlier

2) The customer had more control over the course of the project

In terms of the software, the positive outcomes were:

1) The maintainability of the system was excellent

2) The quality of the code was very high

Overall, the Scrum technique helped the team deliver top-notch results with higher client satisfaction, less wastage of resources and a fully workable software.

What type of projects is Scrum used for?

  • Commercial software
  • In-house development
  • Video game development
  • Website building
  • Mobile phones and more

What are the characteristics of Scrum?

In the Introduction to Scrum, Mike Cohn outlines the characteristics of Scrum. You can scroll through the whole deck to get a better understanding of Scrum.

What are the “ceremonies” in Scrum

There are essentially 4 broad processes in Scrum management:

Sprint planning: A key term in Scrum management is ‘a sprint’ which is an iteration that is restricted to a specific duration. The duration for each sprint is decided upon before-hand with 2 weeks being the most common. The process involves a team planning meeting to decide what to complete during the coming sprint.

Daily stand-up: It is sometimes referred to as a min-scrum meeting. This is a 15-minute meeting for the software team to make sure they’re on track.

Sprint Demo: A meeting where the different teams come together to catch up on their progress on the project

Sprint Retrospective: This meeting involves a reflection on the past sprint, the failures and the achievements and actions to make the next sprint better.

How popular is Scrum?

There are over 375,000 certified ScrumMasters worldwide. Scrum is a proven, scalable process for managing software projects. Scrum has become one of the most recognized management frameworks for software development especially for those projects with high requirements. It is used worldwide by Fortune 500 companies. Scrum has been used by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple, IBM and more.

If you’ve used Scrum, we’d love to hear your experience and your success stories with this technique in the comments below.

About Amrita

AmritaAmrita is a marketing specialist by profession who loves writing, music and animals.

Amrita

Amrita

Amrita is a marketing specialist by profession who loves writing, music and animals.