#CollaborationWeek — How we used Scrum to improve communication
When we started building nTask, everyone was excited. The idea of having a very robust and scalable task management platform was thrilling.
We began by bringing in resources for project management, hiring talent for DevOps, Product Innovation, QA, and Product Marketing. Everything seemed in position for success.
We were well aware of what needed to be done. nTask now had its team of awesome people working to bring the idea to reality.
A week went by, and it was time for a review meeting. The meeting didn’t go as pleasantly as we expected; half of the team was missing out on what actually needed to be done. Everyone had their own perceptions on the matter.
Some team members were already lagging behind, and others were forced to wait for them to catch up. We quickly found that we were falling behind schedule, and that the project was more complicated than expected.
We needed to reassess our project plan. We were skilled, had a great idea and a vision behind the product, and we knew we could make our dream into a reality — so where did we go wrong?
We needed better communication
According to a recent study, only 5.9% of companies communicate their goals daily.
On this project, it went against the team’s culture to speak up when a team member found an issue or was confused.
This had consequences — DevOps began to miss deadlines, product functionality faced issues, and bug fixes were not associated correct severity, just to name a few.
We began to fix our team problems by analyzing communication methods and frameworks for improvement.
Our team explored different project management techniques and studied which methodologies would best suit our needs and help resolve the communication barriers we faced.
In this research, we came across a survey that showed how Scrum, an Agile framework, is being widely used and is highly regarded by a majority of its practitioners.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework for product development and sustenance. According to the 2016 State of Scrum Report, 61% of respondents from 76 countries reported that they are using Scrum on their teams.
With our decision made, we became a Scrum team, complete with a Product Owner, the Development Team and the Scrum Master. We began to set timed deadlines for tasks, called Sprints.
The Product Owner is the person that sets the direction and targets for the team. The Product Owner ensures that everyone understands what they are required to do, looks to improve work methods, and ensures the process is visible to everyone on the team.
The Development Team includes those that completed the project itself. They make sure a segment of the project is completed in its specific Sprint.
Outside of the current Sprint, the Daily Scrum became our ritual of daily stand-up meetings.
The Scrum Master is the facilitator for the team, supporting and promoting Scrum by helping everyone understand it.
During each daily meeting, the Scrum Master asks the team members these three questions:
1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What will you do today?
3. Are there any impediments in your way?
Although the title of Scrum Master sounds powerful, the scrum master is not the project leader and is therefore not held accountable for outcomes. The team as a whole is responsible for outcomes.
We also introduced Review Meetings into our structure, completed by the end of each week. These meetings were extensions of the Daily Scrum and proved to be very helpful.
Scrum delivered excellent results
We soon found the most integral part of the Scrum framework to be the Daily Scrum. Our team was not used to speaking with one another or keeping each other updated on progress. We were very comfortable in our individual spaces before — just each of us and our respective workstations.
It took time to get used to these meetings; we had our moments when we believed the new meetings would not be beneficial. However, the team slowly began accepting the method and was eventually proud of the adoption. With time, our communication gaps disappeared, and we found that we had evolved into a self-dependent, organized powerhouse.
Then there was our very own task management software, nTask. This software continues to be an efficient platform to define tasks and necessary resources for the team. No one had issues understanding requirements when using nTask, milestones seemed clear, and reporting was effortless.
The team’s processes had become transparent, and it was easier than ever to consult with one another to solve any underlying issues.
Just one month after using Scrum, everyone seemed to be synchronized. We had started completing our Sprints, and, more often than not, they finished as successes.
Daily Scrums saved lots of time
The scrums started out as forced communication and blank stares but soon turned into productive and decisive daily meetings. Team members were more inclined to work independently, but at the same time they felt they could approach each other.
This ultimately saved a great deal of time that was otherwise wasted when miscommunications or lack of communication led to avoidable mistakes.
We are still using Scrum and hope to continue using it for agile development and innovation.
Are you considering using the Scrum framework or have started adopting it recently? How is your experience thus far? Let us know in the comments below.
#CollaborationWeek — this week, we are celebrating collaboration and how effective collaboration drives success for teams. Our team will be sharing stories, tips, tricks and experiences that center around the importance of collaboration among team members. Stay tuned by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.