For years the Agile methodology, which includes Scrum and Kanban, has been a staple in IT and technology team development.
Its iterative and time boxed-window approach (called sprints) to software delivery worked well to help teams focus their energies, fail faster instead of at the final product delivery point, and increase efficiency within the team. So why not expand the use of such a productive alternative to waterfall project management to other types of teams?
In March 2016, that’s just what All Star’s content marketing and design team decided to do. Here’s how we pulled it off. First, a little bit about Agile and Scrum.
Agile offers an alternative to document-driven, heavyweight development and include four basic principles that are easy to understand (but hard to master):
- Individuals and interaction over process and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a hard plan
In Agile, there are three primary roles: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Delivery Team. There are other roles that are associated, such as friends and stakeholders, but the three definitive roles in scrum are these.
All Star asked Sarah Gilbert, our Content Strategist, to assume the Product Owner role as she understands the business needs and meets with other departments who need content and design expertise regularly. The Product Owner creates all the projects (called stories) and places them in a backlog in our task board tool. She is the ultimate voice and decision maker when it comes time to accepting the work that has been done by the team, or moving it into the backlog for further revision if it does not fulfill the necessary requirements.
The Scrum Master is primarily tasked with unblocking the delivery team from any impediments that prevent them from getting their work done. Travis Wright, our VP of Product, initially tackled the role but has turned the reins over to Paula Nechak, who attended a two-day Scrum Master training and passed an exam to become a certified Scrum Master (CSM).
The delivery team is a self-managing, cross-functional group that is comprised of the rest of the content and design members. As an empowered team they decide how much work they should tackle within a two-week sprint and every member creates and assigns tasks to help accomplish the goals.
In order to properly implement the Scrum methodology, the team attends four meetings:
- A daily standup, which is used to identify blockers
- A sprint grooming meeting, where we review upcoming stories with the Product Owner and assign story points (a measure of complexity that utilizes Fibonacci sequence numbers) to the high-level project
- A sprint planning meeting, where the group decides which stories they will tackle in the upcoming sprint
- A sprint review and retrospective, a final meeting where we introduce large and high-level projects to the team and any stakeholders, and also talk about what went well and what needs improvement in the previous sprint
We’ve already seen a remarkable increase in output, but the biggest positive has been how the team has come together as a healthy and integrated unit dedicated to accomplishing a large array of tasks, both simple and complex. From video and imagery to site migrations and sales collateral, the content and design teams are continuously striving to create better ways to do their work within the framework of the Agile methodology.