Scrum and Beyond

Clint Hawkins

02 / Oct / 17

What is Greener Than Grass?

One of the great privileges of working for Saxon Global is the amount of effort the leadership puts into training all levels of staff. One of the most difficult parts of working for Saxon is being, by far, the least technically savvy person in the room.

I have the immense pleasure of being the most green employee in the entire office. Part of the extensive training involves bringing in actual consultants to share details about their trade and focus in the IT world. A few weeks ago, we hosted the immensely talented Rabea Buksik as gave us a thorough lesson on Scrum Framework and the benefits of the practice. Rabea, a certified Scrum master and former TK20 employee, was quick to a joke but still incredibly insightful.

 

The meeting started with Rabea asking who all was familiar with Scrum Framework and how technical she could be with explanations. As luck would have it, everyone has at least three years of applicable experience and had a thorough understanding of Scrum so we could skip the basics. Everyone, of course, except for myself. This wouldn’t be a tremendous problem because Scrum is relatively intuitive; it is a framework (NOT a methodology) for sustaining and producing complex products. In short, Scrum allows for open and flexible communication during projects.

 

What is Scrum?

I am by no means an expert, but the training by Rabea left me infinitely more knowledgeable about the process. Scrum can be mistaken for a methodology, but the true purpose is more relaxed than that. Methodology suggests a particular set of principles, tools, and practices will be used for a project while a framework implies autonomy and personal license. Scrum does not dictate what tools will be used; it acts as a catalyst for improved communication and teamwork.

Scrum is broken up into 2-4 week “sprints”, but maintains daily meetings to monitor progress and hold the team accountable. The process has a couple of different players:

  • Product Owner – Liaison between business stakeholders and development team. Sets “goals” with user stories in the form of product backlogs.
  • Development Team – Does bulk of the coding or development of the “goals” set by the product owner
  • Scrum Master – Facilitator for the Development Team, but not to be mistaken for a lead. More than anything, the Scrum Master is a servant leader and assists wherever possible. Runs the Daily Scrum.

All of these players come together to create an environment that is more flexible and much quicker than old school waterfall methodologies. The sprints have the following (ideal) structure:

Product backlog à Sprint planning à Sprint backlog à Sprint! à Ship product

The teams work independently for this 2-4 week sprint, but the Scrum Master will lead out on a “Daily Scrum” every morning in which the entire team to discuss impediments, user story progress, and general work context. There is a serious focus on everyone standing during the Daily Scrum so time is not wasted and people get through their talking points quickly.

The end product within Scrum can fall under many different spectrums, but all Scrum projects have a focus on speed and transparency. Ultimately when a consultant works in Scrum framework they have experience in a fast-paced, teamwork centric environment and everything else is a variable.

I have a ton to learn about the implications of Scrum, but Rabea has given me adequate knowledge to have confidence when discussing the framework with potential consultants, and that means the training is incredibly effective.

Alex R. – First  Year Recruiter at Saxon Global