Agile methodologies and framework
There are two different methodologies for operating as an Agile team: Scrum or Kanban. Both have similar frameworks and functionalities, with a few qualities that make each unique.
What is Scrum?
While it may sound like something you’d find at the bottom of a lake, Scrum is a popular framework for using Agile. It’s often a big misconception that Agile and Scrum are one and the same, which is false. Scrum is just one of the many applications of Agile. Deriving from a Rugby term, Scrum refers to the action of learning from each moment, looking to hit future goals at a top-level, and always reflecting on the work you’ve done.
Scrum is different from other Agile methodologies in the way it organizes sprints, team roles, deliverables, and prioritization. Let’s take a look at what makes Scrum unique.
Sprints with Scrum
Sprints, which we previously explained, are specific periods of time in which projects get completed within the Agile framework.
Scrum sprints are unique in that each project’s sprint determines the timeline the team will work within to get the project done. While it might be a more loose timeline for other methodologies, Scrum sticks to their sprints to make sure work is on schedule and moving smoothly.
This is why Scrum is widely used in many companies using Agile for the first time as it’s a relatively smooth transition from more traditional, but widely-used, waterfall workflows.
Standups with Scrum
Because of the way Agile works, everyone on the team must wholeheartedly believe in the mission of the company and the principles of Agile for standups to be effective. This is even truer when looking at standups in the Scrum methodology.
Standups are daily meetings where the team talks about four things: what they worked on yesterday, what they plan to do today, and ask any questions they may have for their team or address any roadblocks in the workflow. When a team member doesn’t believe in Agile, these standups can often feel redundant or unnecessary. If everyone truly invests themselves, however, they can be a worthwhile tool.
Scrum standups function like a team huddle. Everyone has their tasks, everyone is up to speed on what they have to do, and then everyone gets after it on their own.
By pairing your team’s daily standups with an Agile project management tool like Hubstaff Tasks — where everyone’s sprints and jobs can be displayed readily, all in one place — Scrum Masters can have an easier time keeping everything in check.
Tools like this become even more beneficial when going through iterations and reviews. With Scrum, there are numerous check-ins to review ongoing work. By using Tasks, you can break out each project, set specific timelines for certain jobs within sprints, and build in review processes that are easy for each team member to follow along with. You can even set up automated standups to remove some of the hassles of scheduling meetings.
Scrum team roles
The roles in a Scrum team are similar to that of the Agile model. There are three leading roles to look at:
- The product owner
- The scrum master
- The development team members
Many companies tend to adopt the Scrum model because of how simple it is. But it’s not uncommon for a team to get a little confused about what happens to their existing job titles when their team adopts Scrum. The good news is that titles don’t need to change. If you’re a project manager, you’re still a project manager. If you’re an art director… you’re still an art director!
What does change, is your project organization structure. Rather than being praised for your individual role you’re now being rewarded as one group of people, encouraging better teamwork and collaboration.
A key member on the team is the Scrum Master. This person is (surprise) master over the Scrum. They help to facilitate the entire team, delivering the team members the right information and materials to do their job while reporting back to the product owners with information. They’re the ones to update all the essential info on working programs, like Hubstaff Tasks, to help everyone stay on track with the right information. Think of them like the glue that holds the whole Scrum together.
The benefits of Scrum
Scrum is all about working as a team. Everyone has to stay in communication with each other, and everyone is working toward a common goal. There are no people on the team who are “the better developer” or “the better writer.” Everyone is equal.
Because of the structure of Scrum, a lot of collaboration happens naturally. Whether it’s with others in your team or those in a standup meeting, you’re looking to gather everyone’s unique skills and knowledge to collaborate on all your sprints.
There’s a reason Scrum is such a popular workflow for many businesses. Because of its built-in adaptability, it fits well into a variety of companies outside of software development. From marketing agencies to growing local service businesses, anyone with a team of employees can benefit from the power of Scrum. Setting up sprints and standups for a smaller business makes it easier to see everything from the ground level, ensuring nothing gets missed.
Working on a Scrum team is all about teamwork. There are no people on the team who are deemed higher than another. When a team succeeds, it’s never attributed to one person’s efforts over the hard work of the collective.
What is Kanban?
When talking about Agile methodologies, we also need to cover the second most popular method: Kanban. While it’s similar to Scrum, Kanban follows a few different rules and structures — giving teams more line of sight to work getting done and transparency to teams — that make it unique. To fully understand Kanban, you first have to start by understanding what a Kanban board is.
are the lifeblood of Kanban. They’re a project management tool used to organize “cards” and “columns” to maximize workflow, limit or reduce work-in-progress, and visualize on-going projects. They can be physically created using tape and a whiteboard or digitally using programs like Hubstaff Tasks.
On a typical Kanban board, you’ll find several rows or columns demonstrating a workflow. Each column represents a different segment of that flow or step in the process. For example, you could have three separate columns in your Kanban board labeled “To-Do,” “In-progress,” and “Complete.” Columns, like all of Kanban, help everyone on a team visualize where projects are in the workflow, and make it easier to pinpoint where things are getting held up.
For a Kanban board, each project is represented by a single cell called a card. Typically only representing one project at a time, cards are moved from column to column depending on the project’s current status.
If you recently finished a project and were ready to pass it along, you’d move it from your “In-progress” column to your “Complete” column. Easy as that.
The fluidity of cards is one of their benefits. You can easily move them all over your Kanban board, depending on their status, without messing up anyone else’s work.
This works well for businesses that consistently have lots of changes in workflows, allowing teams to move projects around as needed. Unlike Scrum, Kanban is an ongoing process. Kanban cards are ever-moving, and after a project is completed you still have metrics and data to learn from it.
Finally, if any team members or stakeholders need to see the status of any given project, they can always catch up just by looking at where the card sits in the pipeline of columns
The benefits of Kanban
Kanban is in the business of efficiency, which is why it focuses on time cycles. Because Kanban tracks how long each card lives in a column, teams can predict how long any given project will take based on previous metrics, making it easier to do your work and predict long-term timelines.
Kanban boards are set up to limit the number of ongoing projects allowed to live in a single column at one time. If there’s a three-card limit in the “In-progress” column and the third card gets added the team now knows they need to focus on those three projects to keep the work flowing. This helps reduce bottlenecks and makes sure everyone is working on the right projects.
Kanban is visually easy to follow — one of its strongest traits. By breaking out a company’s workflow this way, it’s easy for everyone to understand what’s happening at any given moment. Additionally, it reduces the need for someone like a Scrum Master to juggle information between stakeholders and team members.
A unique feature of Kanban is how it eliminates hierarchy completely. Everyone on a Kanban-style team works on the same level and performs their job for the benefit of the group. While Scrum has its Scrum Master, Kanban simply has one team where each individual pulls their direction from the board.