A beginners guide to Agile and Scrum

Planning short sprints to meet the customer business needs
February 12, 2017

A beginners guide to Agile and Scrum

Managing a production process is not a new concept. The pursuit of optimization was one of the primary goals of every company for ages.  On the one hand, every business focus on earning money but on the other wants to limit their expenses. Both of those things are and will be substantial.

In the times, when Waterfall and Project Management were known as the best tools for managing software development process, more and more IT projects started to fail. Some people were wondering what was going on and how to increase the success rate of those undertakings. It occurred to them that methods used so far are no longer valid in a current, fast-changing world. They wanted to do something with it so they met in 2001 and created the Agile Manifesto, a set of sentences describing core values which should be applied in modern software development. On this fundament, a lot of methodologies raised, and Scrum is one of them.

Complex environments, in which most of the current projects are being done, are changing so fast, that plan created for a couple of months ahead, is no longer valid after few weeks. That is why following the plan is a straight road to failure. Agile is an alternative for creating products. It means responding to change. Of course, planning is necessary and is being done even is the Agile world, but in Agile you can change the direction when circumstances change. And it happens very often for a plethora of reasons. Clients don’t know what they really need or change their mind. Product ordered a couple of months earlier is no longer needed because things changed. Competitors introduced some innovations, so the product requires some modifications to fit the market. And a lot more stuff like this. In Waterfall, it was hard and expensive to implement such changes. Agile offers you much more flexibility, and changes to the original plan are cheaper.

Scrum is an Agile framework you can apply for managing the production process. Especially popular in IT companies, from which it was born, to keep a software development efficient. The whole concept is written as the Scrum Guide, a short document describing roles, rules, and values which should be applied to make things work. It is available free on the Internet and is a must read for every person who is going to work in Scrum.

Scrum helps organizations to deliver more valuable products. It is an empirical process, which means, it changes over time. The primary rule is „inspect and adapt“. You examine what works and what needs some improvements and adjust changes where needed. Such loop never ends. You improve the process over and over again, and it becomes better tailored to company’s needs.

In some cases, the environment in which the product you work on will be used is predictable. You have certainty that a plan created at the beginning won’t change. But this is a minority of projects. The vast rest is about change and quick and cheap responding to this change is possible with the Agile approach to the product. By adapting to the current situation, you build valuable and useful products.