I’ve been lucky enough to have work in a few organisations where Scrum has been implemented from scratch so feel I’ve got a good idea of what it takes to implement Scrum in such organisations. Below are a few tips that I’ve found helpful….
Just Do It!
I’ve found that when transitioning to Scrum a lot of people tend to try and plan and put procedure in place. In fact most organisations that are considering Scrum tend to be in the situation where they’ve put more and more process in place to try and gain more control of their process when by doing this they actually make it worse. I’ve found it helpful to just start doing Scrum. Pick a start date for your first sprint and just go from there. I’ve seen teams who have planned to be “more Agile” for over a year but have worried about who is going to play what role, what does this mean for the org chart and other reasons of a similar ilk. All this results in is delay and further stagnation of the process which usually isn’t working (i know of one team that were transitioning to Agile for over a year before actually biting the bullet and starting with Scrum)
Define the backlog
A clearly defined, prioritised and ordered backlog is a must for any team regardless if they are new to Scrum or not. However from my experience it is vital when starting with Scrum that the backlog contains all of the known work required. I have seen examples where the pre-Scrum work was managed in one (or multiple) places and when the team starts with Scrum they have a new backlog. This backlog won’t contain all of the items int he old system which then leads to multiple discussions and priority lists being used by the PO to try and manage the work. Without this I fail to see how a PO can effectively order their backlog if it doesn’t contain all of the work the team needs to complete. I would also highly recommend this is a very good opportunity for the PO to have a good clean out and assessment of all of the items from their previous regime. Backlog grooming is something that should happen constantly but if there are items on the list right from the start you either don’t want or are no longer required then this “brave new world” is great chance to clear these down.
Start Low Ceremony
Similar to point 1 regarding over planning your adoption to Scrum there is a tendency for Management and Project Managers to insist you start “high ceremony” with Scrum. This usually means an electronic tool such as Jira, VersionOne, TargetProcess or one of the many other tools on the market. I’ve found that these tools whilst beneficial in some areas just tend to add to the weight of learning required when moving to Scrum. My personal experiences have been that keeping it simple and using a board for both your sprint and backlog is easiest to get started without too much worry, effort or expense. As you progress through your journey with Scrum you’ll find out easily enough if this works for you and the organisation you work in.