Unconventional wisdom, how we use scrum in a non-tech team
The People Development team at Omnicor is tiny and diverse, we manage multiple projects across different products lines within tight deadlines and high stakes. A year ago we pretty much all had our own style and playbook to getting things done. With endless individual meetings on the go (huge time waster and silo reinforcing habit) not only did we drop many balls but we were stressed and working late nights. Until I stumbled upon the agile methodology.
One of my clients used the word Scrum and I was intrigued, this is not a word usually used off the rugby field and certainly not in a corporate context. She explained the concept of agile and the various rituals, I was hooked, the rest is history. We started our own DIY Scrum set up with no real theoretical knowledge of agile, we informally adopted the methodology as an experiment, we knew for sure we needed to change and the structure and agile manifesto became our aspiration process to work towards that change.
“Even if you do Agile badly it makes a significant impact to the process flow in your business” — Martin Rowe
“Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.” — Marcia Wieder
As a non-tech team, not all the principles apply verbatim but the values and focus have provided our team with a shared roadmap for becoming a high performing team. Since adopting scrum, our scrum master Anjli Daya has completed formal training to understand agile which has matured our practice and confidence. What started out as an experiment is now spreading in the business and other teams are adopting their own versions.
WHY WE ARE SUCH PROMOTERS OF SCRUM:
- Team Impact
Scrum is visible and transparent, daily stand-ups are effective and help the team to be self-organising, eliminating duplicated work and creating opportunities for corrective timeous feedback.
Collaboration and a team with a strong sense of empathy are the unexpected benefits, it’s easy to see when your colleague is overworked or bored…support is easier to recruit. Team motivation and engagement improves because we are all focused on crossing the ‘try” line together for that sprint.
- Productivity and Time Management
Our scrum master helps the team to track, manage and monitor overall productivity. We have learned that decomposing tasks (dissecting into the smallest parts) and prioritising is both a skill and an art which has forced us to guard our availability. Tasks end up taking you much longer than you perhaps originally sized (this blog article is a real case in point!).
The retrospective ritual invites us to take time out after each sprint both as a team and individually to reflect on what went well and what we could have done better. Our Snr Developer Ravish Ajoodha even volunteered to develop a task system that he designed for our non-Jira loving team! It’s simple and has taken our agile process to the next level, uniquely Pdev and Omnicor. This has improved both our stakeholder expectation conversations and team performance.
Ultimately at Omnicor, our focus will always be on delivering heroic customer service and looking for ways which provide the biggest impact for the client. This requires our team to be highly adaptive and flexible with our processes, delivering quality work with the least effort. We have come along way with many iterations and now we could not imagine working any other way.
TIPS TO SWITCH
Look into using Trello to create an online board to have when out of the office or for remote teams.
Find a functional scrum and go and watch how it works, although we are not experts we always welcome visitors to our scrum and enjoy helping others with their own scrum experiments
Contact our scrum master for more info Anjli@omnicor.co.za
Author: Colleen McLintock, Head of People Development at Omnicor