Scrum | kanban
scrum | kanban
IN A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CONTEXT
Scrum and Kanban rarely need an introduction these days. However, these two methods seem to be regularly misunderstood. As a colleague once told me: “The problem is that agile is in the head”. This simple method for running highly interactive features should and can be easier adapted.
Where to start?
Start by understanding your company’s readiness towards a methodology like scrum. Does your upper management need to approve the Business Case for every digital transformation initiative? Then your company is not ready for agile. Do your execs think that agile is great but need some kind of estimate of what will be delivered, and then they hold you to it? Agile does not belong here.
Remember: 84% of digital transformation projects fail – and there are many reasons, one of them is that upper management has its share of limitations. Other problems are that teams use agile, but in a dogmatic way. I have seen this happening in a few projects in Germany. For example: people in one project dogmatically repeated that they were “flexible” and “agile”. In reality, this team only echoed verbatim what was expected from them. They however did not operate in an agile way or followed an agile methodology.
The reality is that an agile team should function like a special ops military unit or like a high-performance sports team. Your team is highly trained, highly capable, and it should be trusted to deliver what is technologically possible – without much interruption from management and executives. Trust in the best men and women available. They will deliver the results. Trust in your Scrum Master, he or she will let you know if things are working or if corrections are necessary. Trust your Product Owner, and you will get the right Backlog prioritized the right way most of the time.
Some financial controls and the motivation for a business case are naturally not only accepted, but necessary. The question is: at what level and who should be involved? The problem at the execution – or sprint – is too much control. Let your team be (hence the idea of Scrum – borrowed from Rugby). During the delivery phase no management is the best management.
Let your Scrum Master facilitate: Facilitating, or a “servant-leader-approach”, is all that is required when following an agile approach to digital transformation projects.
We at Agile Systems can help you lead a scrum-based project or project portfolio.
Kanban is the operational sister of Scrum: While Scrum tries hard to meet a deadline, Kanban tries hard to get work done all the time.
Kanban is well documented. When to implement Scrum and when Kanban? It depends on the project, of course, but a rule of thumb is: If it is a project, try Scrum first. If it is operations (for example, ITIL Service Management), try Kanban first.
If the method does not work at first, and you are tempted to mix, a word of caution: before you mix strategies (Scrumban and things of the sort), make sure you fully understand the original method used. If a team does not understand either Scrum or Kanban, how can it try to implement a combination of two not-well understood methodologies? Many teams try this – and even worse: They mix Scrum or Kanban with waterfall methods. It can be done successfully, but only if:
1. All involved methodologies are well understood.
2. For some reason one method or the other does not fully cover the project’s requirements.
However, this is rare. Either a company makes the effort to transforms digitally or it does not.
If the original method does not work, maybe the problem is not the method, but its specific implementation in your project. Remember, Kanaban and Scrum are extremely flexible frameworks, so your team has a great deal of choices during its use.