Implementing Scrum made my life easier, increased transparency and balanced work load across teams
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Before implementing Scrum I was working in a traditional functional line organization. I had the luxury of being the overall leader of the team and the project manager which meant I held all the organisational power. This was great but, I was still reliant on the team leads of each function of the organization to provide me with their weekly reports to provide transparency on the work done and also entrust them with assigning and distributing the required work evenly amongst the team members. The challenges with this traditional approach were:
The Team Leads had their own set of interests and steered each of their teams in the direction they wanted, which was sometimes not fully aligned with the direction I wanted.
As the Project Manager I was responsible for providing a holistic plan across all functions, so as usual I had to piece together the planning from each individual team lead and function.
Furthermore, team lead functional reports had to be merged into a coherent collective whole.
The Team Leads did not like writing reports, so I didn’t get the full picture of what all team members were working on, leading to reduced transparency.
The Team Leads only reported on what I needed to know, again lacking transparency.
The Team Leads were entrusted to assign tasks and balance the work load evenly across their team. This was not always the case.
This led to team member complaints that some people had more work than others which caused animosity and a feeling of inequality amongst the team and reduced team morale and motivation.
Well you might say this is all business as usual and putting all the pieces of the jigsaw together is all part of a Project Managers job, which I would agree with. Afterall according to the PMI this is all part of the Project Management Knowledge Area of Integration Management. I also thought the same until I implemented Scrum after which my job got a lot easier, and here’s why.
Essentially after implementing Scrum the above tasks were now delegated to the Scrum Team members as follows:
The Product Owner was now responsible for prioritizing the Product Backlog and planning the scope into the upcoming Sprint.
The Product Backlog captures the whole scope across all teams, so there was no need to holistically piece together a plan based on the Team Leads input.
The Development Teams planned their own work during the Sprint Planning and ensured that all work was evenly distributed across team members. If they had spare capacity, they pulled tasks from the Product Backlog. There were no longer any complaints from team members that certain individuals had worked more than others.
Development Team dynamics and daily impediments were managed by the Scrum Masters and only issues that couldn’t be resolved reached my desk.
The Sprint Retrospective ensured that team member concerns were made visible and were managed. Furthermore, the organisation continuously improved, thus improving team morale and motivation.
It was possible at any time to check the burn down report in JIRA and estimate the status of the work done during the Sprint, thus providing full transparency.
The whole scope of each Sprints planned work could simply be found by looking at a flip chart with the agreed scope captured during the Product Backlog Refinement meeting. It was not necessary to ask anyone for a report any longer, since the scope and the status of work was visible at any time, and there was no hidden work.
Basically, Scrum had delivered on its promises. It increased transparency and team motivation by empowering team members to control their own destiny whilst still delivering the required scope with the correct priority at the right time.