The agile concept was created and widely adopted as a framework by software development teams. The approach emphasizes team collaboration, incremental code shipping, and continuous learning.
To keep up with competition and bring in innovation, organizations are choosing to adopt an agile product management approach. Applying agile framework to product management lets organizations release MVP versions faster and follow-up with regular updates of their products. Learning from each incremental update are then incorporated resulting in improving the product experience and resonating closely with user requirements.
What is Scrum?
Agile is a process and set of best practices that teams need to follow. Among the dozens of agile frameworks, Scrum is most popular with software and SaaS product teams.
Scrum; a lightweight project-management framework developed to help companies create, deliver, and sustain complex products. Using the Scrum agile framework, product teams break down the long-term projects into short-term periods of work called sprints. Each sprint has to be time-boxed, limited either to two weeks or one month.
During each sprint, the development team works on only a few agreed-upon objectives. If any activity requires more work than the team can complete in a single sprint, they will break up the work into several sprints. The goal is to update the product frequently and to release those updates to customers as often as possible, to learn what resonates with users continuously.
What are the roles in a Scrum Team?
The Scrum team includes several roles:
The product owner on a scrum team takes responsibility for developing high-value products. They specialize in the oversight of development teams and analyze project decisions to ensure they align with team and stakeholder goals. Product owners possess a deep understanding of business processes and customer-oriented values.
The scrum master is typically an individual who has expertise and certification in the Scrum framework. They lead and guide other team members on different processes. In essence, a scrum master keeps team members on track and mentoring them on Scrum concepts along the way. They also maintain productive relationships with stakeholders and team members alike.
The Scrum team is made up of professionals responsible for developing a high-quality, finished product at the end of a project’s sprints. The Scrum team can be multi-disciplinary consisting of developers, software architects, UI/UX or product designers, cloud architects. The Scrum team possess a crucial understanding of organization, time management and problem solving.
How does Scrum approach work?
A typical Scrum approach in agile software development looks like this:
1. Sprint Planning
The team meets to review the product backlog, select the items to work on for the next sprint, and agree upon the strategic goals of the upcoming sprint.
2. The Sprint
This is the primary unit of development work in the Scrum agile framework. Most teams schedule sprints for two weeks or one month, and during those periods, team members work only on the items agreed to in the sprint planning session.
3. Daily Scrum
These are sometimes called Standups, or Daily Standups. They are very short meetings, typically 15 minutes, held each morning to discuss everyone’s planned work for the day and to address any issues or obstacles that could affect that work.
4. Sprint Review
This is an informal meeting held at the end of a sprint, where the team reviews its completed work against its plan for the sprint and adjusts the product backlog if needed to add uncompleted work to the next sprint.
5 Practices that help with Agile product development
1. Fine-tune the product backlog with stakeholders:
The product backlog is one of the essential artifacts in Scrum. It documents the product vision shared by project stakeholders. Create the product backlog together with everyone who is relevant to the project. Doing so can give your team more clarity on the product roadmap. Product backlog can be created once project requirements are defined and agreed upon by the client.
Involving stakeholders in this process can give your sprints a kick-start as the team gets to learn more about the product directly from stakeholders. That knowledge allows team members to reach a mutual understanding of the results and share a vision.
2. Team building:
Team-building activities are important in a multi-disciplinary team. They become crucial when you need to assemble a team for a new project from scratch. One can promote teamwork through activities like PoC projects, giving weekly internal presentations, and mentoring. It brings high enthusiasm and motivation to individual team members who make up the product teams.
3. Set communication standards:
Communication is an important aspect, especially for remote teams. For remote communication following agile development, it’s important to communicate updates and developments effectively to the team. It’s easy to miss out on critical details on messages or during a Skype call. Define communication guidelines that the team can follow and document them.
4. Prioritize tasks in backlog:
For starters, MoSCoW analysis is great for getting priorities right. It means labelling backlog stories as ‘Must-haves’, ‘Should-haves’, ‘Could-haves’, and ‘Won’t-haves’. When planning sprints, high-priority stories, or ‘must-haves’, are chosen first, according to the Agile principle of delivering value early. Priorities are set by the product owner based on business needs. Sometimes you can develop an MVP first as a way of testing value of the features against end-users’ expectations.
5. Capture bottlenecks:
Manage the bottlenecks by visualizing dependencies. It helps the team reduce the impact of bottlenecks on their work. Segregate the dependencies into two groups: functional and technical dependencies. Get relevant people and product owners to define functional dependencies, and engineers to identify the technical ones.
While product owners take it upon themselves to set the goals for product development sprints, it’s upto the teams to self-organize around granular tasks. For a custom product development service provider like ours, Agile is critical because it helps us to empower product teams and maintain control over project deliverables that help our clients succeed