Scrum is extensively used by software companies for product development. Therefore, you can apply this project management framework to any project that has complex requirements, aggressive deadlines, and a generous amount of uniqueness.
This frame is specially designed for small and close-knit teams developing complex software products.
But it was during the early 2000s that Scrum became one of the most popular agile project management frameworks, especially in the technology sector. The best part of Scrum is that it isn’t inherently technical and adaptation of its tools and practices is rather easy.
It is, therefore, no surprise that organizations are drawn to Scrum. For one thing, this framework offers numerous benefits such as mitigating risk, reducing cycle time and cost, facilitating frequent communication, and delivering the right products.
Its benefits and ease of use explain why many organizations, aside from those developing software, are also drawn to this framework. In addition, it has an appealing attribute from a managerial standpoint. And that is Scrum’s ability to boost team productivity.
Using this framework, teams can become self-organized and perform better, which in turn frees up the management to focus on long-term strategy.
Besides, its minimal structure facilitates frequent communication between the team and product owner and ongoing process improvements. All these eventually result in enhanced productivity.
Understand the Framework
To implement Scrum, you need to first understand this framework. As said, it is a lightweight project management framework that includes only a few constituent parts.
This means Scrum can easily complement your existing process, thanks to its streamlined composition. However, you need to consider the specific role played by each piece in the framework in facilitating productivity.
Scrum features three core roles that are committed to the project. These are the Product Owner, the Team, and the Scrum Master.
Before explaining how you can use Scrum to improve team productivity, you need to understand these three roles and the way they influence productivity on an individual level as well as when working together.
The product owner in the Scrum framework represents the stakeholders and customers. It is the responsibility of the product owner to ensure that the team delivers value that represents the interests of the business.
He/she is responsible for controlling orders of items in the product backlog and has the authority to ask team members to do work and/or change the backlog items’ order.
Since the product owner holds the product’s vision, he is also the person responsible for answering team members’ questions.
Next comes the Scrum team, which typically includes around seven people (although it can vary between five and nine) working together in small and sustainable events called sprints, which is a series of iterations. High-performing Scrum teams are self-organizing and highly collaborative.
They get to decide who works on what and which tools and techniques to implement to complete a project/task. They alone have the authority to create schedule estimates if required.
Their ultimate focus lies on “how to do the work,” both individually and collectively. Such collaborative teams naturally avoid silos like “not my job” thinking.
Finally, we have the Scrum master who is the coach, teaching the team to attain higher levels of self-organization, cohesiveness, and performance.
Apart from creating a self-organizing and high-performing team, a Scrum Master is also responsible for helping the team to remove any roadblocks coming in the way of their work.
Clarify the Roles Clearly
In a Scrum framework, it is extremely important to clarify the roles early on so that no one interferes with the other’s job.
To be productive and successful using this framework, you need to ensure that there are no missing role clarifications, which usually lead to delayed decisions.
It can cause pending tasks, missing responsibility, and the presence of negative energy causing friction and stress within the team.
For example, a Scrum Master is not the team’s boss and cannot ask the team to do a particular work. Similarly, a product owner cannot determine who is responsible for a particular task or how the work is being done.
Allow Your Team to Decide their Sprint Capacity
In Scrum methodology, a sprint typically lasts from two to four weeks. However, don’t let anything, even the established norm, determine the sprint capacity of your team.
Only your team members should have this authority. As mentioned earlier, the Scrum team alone has the authority to decide who works on what and how to do the work. This also applies to determining the team’s sprint capacity.
More often than not the product owners ask for a particular task to be delivered within a particular sprint. The teams too are hesitant to push back the demand, despite knowing that they probably cannot finish it within the said time.
If your team is not convinced that they can deliver the task in a particular sprint, it is an indication that you are not truly letting your team members determine their own capacity.
The Scrum Master plays an important role here. He/she is responsible to help the team agree only to the work they can deliver in a sprint and no more.
Your team must be very excited about the Sprint Planning, convinced that they can deliver what is promised.
The “Fist of Five” is a great technique to help you determine your team’s level of commitment and confidence to the Sprint plan.
Find out what motivates your team
To find out what motivates your team members, try creating an internal survey that asks the big questions about employee fulfillment, such as “What would cause you to take another job with a different company tomorrow?”
Providing regular one-to-one feedback sessions can help keep team members on track for making the biggest possible impact. What’s more, the feedback sessions don’t just need to be a one-way talk on how the team member is performing.
One-on-ones also provide an opportunity to check in with team members to see how they’re enjoying the role and discuss future goals, including formulating a plan for how they aim to get there.
Provide meaning through professional development
Research shows that self-reflection can help team members to find meaning in their work.
You can add a few questions for your team members to consider in this process include: What are you working for? What impact do you want to create in your job? What skills do you want to develop and leverage?
Answering these questions can help your team members to realign their priorities within their role and work out what impact they would like to make and how.
Once you’ve identified these with your teammates, work with them to create professional development plans so they can achieve that impact. Managers can support this, for example, when delegating tasks.
Streamline tasks with project sprints and retrospectives
For Agile teams, working in sprints is nothing new. However, sprints can provide value to any sector and enable all kinds of teams to work in a more focused way.
After setting key agreements with your team and then moving those tasks through to completion, teams can streamline their tasks over each sprint.
This helps to ensure that work is focused and reduces the chance of jumping between unrelated tasks.
Additionally, after each sprint, a team can look back at what has been achieved during that sprint, to adjust and improve on workflows.
One way to boost productivity: Find the bottlenecks in your team’s workflow.
This is the shortest way to improve immediately your team into the best results.
Stretch goals and dates do not motivate a team. And they do not make them deliver faster. Using the other eight patterns will help teams finish work sooner. And this is how they accelerate.
The diligent practice of the hyper-productivity patterns will result in the team finishing a Sprint earlier. Then, they have an option to pull new work into the Sprint and deliver more.
This is how a team improves its productivity over time. A team proves its way to better productivity.
Finishing early allows a team to reflect earlier on the value of what is produced. After all, increasing velocity is not the goal.
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