What is SCRUM

SCRUM stands for "Structured Collaborative Rapid Unified Management," though people commonly refer to it as an acronym for "Self-Controlled Repeating Unifying Methodology," as well. In short, it's a process designed to help groups of people collaborate better while working together on complex projects. It's based on agile development principles and encourages collaboration among team members by having them work together towards common goals. The process involves breaking down tasks into smaller chunks, or "sprints," which can be completed quickly but still impact the overall project. 

SCRUM has five core principles: transparency, inspection, adaptation, collaboration, and value creation. These values ensure that all team members- including non-profit directors, college administrators, volunteers, etc.- are always informed about the project's progress. Everyone can access the same information and give feedback throughout the project timeline. 

SCRUM is a robust agile process designed to manage developing products and services in the face of constantly changing customer needs. The core concept of SCRUM focuses on taking an iterative approach to product development, working incrementally toward the outcome. Additionally, SCRUM encourages cross-functional teams, allowing them to predict more effectively how much work they can complete in a set timeframe. With regular feedback loops and adaptive planning processes, SCRUM allows agile projects to remain flexible and in line with market needs. Ultimately, SCRUM promises greater customer satisfaction through the timely delivery of high-quality products.

The History of SCRUM

Agile - a digital methodology built on agile principles, values, and practices - emerged in the early 2000s as a response to the traditional waterfall software development method used up until then. It prioritizes responding more quickly to changing customer requirements over adhering strictly to a pre-defined plan. SCRUM is an agile framework developed soon after agile's emergence, designed to address coordination and collaboration issues in agile projects. It stresses iterative development over established processes, with teams meeting daily for short 'Scrum sessions' where they identify and prioritize tasks. Various agile and SCRUM-related tools have since been developed, such as sprint planning tools, Kanban boards, and user story mapping, enabling teams to complete projects faster and more effectively than ever before. Agile and SCRUM now represent some of the most popular project management methods worldwide for ensuring efficiency in product, service, and software development.

How does SCRUM work

The SCRUM process has three core elements: Planning, Monitoring & Reporting, and Reflection & Learning. First, teams must plan their projects by setting clear expectations and deadlines for each task or Sprint they will complete during the project. Next, teams must monitor progress throughout the project by measuring how well each Sprint is going and ensuring each task is completed correctly and on time. Finally, teams must reflect upon their work at the end of each Sprint by reviewing successes or areas for improvement before launching into their next Sprint. This reflection allows teams to adjust their processes to optimize performance in future sprints.

Sprint Planning

Sprint planning is the process of defining the work to be completed in each Sprint. Teams must identify tasks they need to complete, assign people, and estimate how long each task will take. Additionally, teams must establish a timeline for completion and define any factors affecting their ability to complete the Sprint on time. Teams can work more efficiently and collaboratively by breaking tasks into smaller, achievable goals.

Monitoring & Reporting

Once a Sprint is underway, team members must track progress to ensure they achieve the desired outcome on time. Progress tracking in SCRUM involves monitoring each task closely and ensuring all task owners have what they need to complete their work on schedule with no significant issues or delays. Additionally, teams must regularly report their progress to upper management, stakeholders, or other project participants who need to be kept informed.

Reflection & Learning

At the end of each Sprint, teams must reflect on their work and identify any areas for improvement. This self-assessment helps ensure that future Sprints are more efficient and successful. Teams should also take time to celebrate their successes and recognize team members for their hard work. Taking time for collective gratitude encourages collaboration and motivation, which can improve project results in the long run.

The Benefits of SCRUM

SCRUM allows organizations to take a project from start to finish more quickly and efficiently than traditional methods. This efficiency is because the SCRUM process enables team members to break up their tasks into smaller chunks that are easier to manage, complete, and track. Additionally, SCRUM allows for improved collaboration between departments within an organization as each job is completed in sequence with other tasks. Finally, SCRUM enables teams to respond quickly and efficiently to new challenges or problems that arise during a project and any changes that need to be made on the fly. 

The main benefit of using SCRUM is that it allows teams to adapt when faced with changing requirements or unforeseen obstacles. Instead of starting over from scratch if something goes wrong completely, groups using SCRUM can quickly adjust their strategy mid-project without sacrificing too much time or resources. This agility makes it easier for teams to stay on track and meet deadlines without feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their projects. Additionally, because all team members are involved throughout the entire process, the whole group stays better informed on what they need to complete next, keeping everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal.

SCRUM is an ideal project management system for non-profits because it helps teams focus on their goals while giving them more flexibility. By breaking down projects into smaller tasks with shorter timelines, teams can easily adjust their plans if something unexpected occurs or if they need to make changes along the way. Additionally, SCRUM helps teams save time by streamlining communication among members; instead of updating each other via email or phone, everyone can access the same information at any given time through a shared platform. Finally, SCRUM offers greater visibility into progress, making it easier for leaders to see what tasks are being worked on and identify areas where management could improve the organization.

The Challenges of using SCRUM

Implementing agile methodologies such as SCRUM into non-profit and education teams can be challenging, as both sectors often need more resources and staff.

Typical issues they may face include:

  • lack of a specific agile coach to adapt agile solutions to their workflow

  • lack of understanding of agile processes and related roles and responsibilities

  • friction among team members over roles and ownership of tasks

  • lack of buy-in from members outside the agile team

  • resistance to change processes and infrastructure

  • conflicts between agile goals and other organizational objectives

Ways to address these challenges are: 

  • set clear expectations about agile commitments

  • create an educational program for agile implementation

  • ensure that key stakeholders are part of the process from the start

  • establish clear, measurable objectives

  • involve agile coaches who can facilitate workshops focused on understanding agile scenarios

  • assign specific roles and responsibilities throughout the adoption process

  • prioritize quick wins as regards agile implementation (timeboxing delivery/definition of done)

  • reward performance whenever possible.

Ultimately, success in agile adoption in non-profits or education organizations relies on cultivating an environment where collaborative process improvement is valued and respected.

Best-Practices for Implementing SCRUM in your Business

Include All Relevant Stakeholders

The first step in implementing Scrum is to identify the stakeholders in your project. Stakeholders should include those directly involved in the project and those who may have an indirect but essential role, such as donors and board members. Once identified, these stakeholders should be included in all discussions about the project and given regular updates throughout its duration. Consistent updates ensure that everyone stays informed about what's happening and has an opportunity to provide input when needed. 

Create A Product Backlog 

A product backlog is essentially a list of all tasks related to the project that need to be completed by specific due dates. This list should include significant milestones to small details like updating website content or sending out emails to potential donors. The product backlog should also include estimated due dates for each task so that everyone involved knows exactly when things need to be accomplished. Assigning responsibility for each job is also essential, so there is no ambiguity about who needs to do what.  

Engage Teams With Sprints 

Sprints are short bursts of intense work—usually lasting between one and three weeks—during which teams focus on completing specific goals related to the overall project goal. For example, a team might decide that their Sprint will focus on creating marketing materials or researching potential donors during a given timeframe. At the end of each Sprint, teams review their progress and make adjustments as needed before beginning another sprint focused on another set of tasks or goals related to their overall project goal. 

Sprints allow teams to break down large projects into manageable chunks, which can help keep everyone motivated and engaged throughout the project. Additionally, they allow team members to provide feedback during regular reviews so that any changes or adjustments can be made quickly, if needed, without disrupting progress too much.  

Alternatives to SCRUM

For non-profit and educational teams, agile project management tools are a great resource to achieve maximum productivity and effectiveness. While SCRUM is one of the most popular agile processes, other agile frameworks can also help increase development efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver quality results. Some alternatives to SCRUM include Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and Feature-Driven Development (FDD). Whereas SCRUM focuses on iterative cycles of adaptive planning, risk management, and continuous improvement mechanisms, Kanban prioritizes transportation flows through the production process, emphasizing working on one task at a time. On the other hand, XP emphasizes prioritizing customer satisfaction through frequent feedback from users, while FDD encourages communication between stakeholders to enhance development cycles with detailed design activities. With all of these possibilities to implement available to non-profit and educational teams, teams can successfully tackle any project without compromising quality or delivery commitments.