Project Management

11 minute read

Help Employees Understand Why You Use SCRUM for Project Management

Ben Shanbrom

Ben Shanbrom

The first step to selling your employees or collaborators on SCRUM methodology for project management is removing the air of industry jargon from it. 

But first, some background. SCRUM is actually a subset of Agile, a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development. The original philosophy behind Agile is captured in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which is worth a visit, even if just to appreciate the charming look of the original page. 

Agile’s main tenets include a pragmatic, collaborative, people-centered approach to planning and executing projects, with frequent assessment, reflection, and adaptation. 

SCRUM is one of the many methodologies developed within the Agile framework. Like Agile, SCRUM is not an acronym; it’s actually a rugby term, and the more we situate it within the teamwork approach of the sport, the more it makes sense as a project management methodology. In a rugby SCRUM, players unite in a fierce effort to push forward and take control of the play.

Agile is all about a pragmatic, collaborative, people-centered approach to planning and executing projects, with frequent assessment, reflection, and adaptation. 

The rugby significance goes even further. As Agile coach Jacque Harper points out, one principle of rugby play is to align yourself in relation to the ball carrier “to be available when needed.” That facilitates fluid collaboration to achieve the goal. 

Why your team should be excited about SCRUM

Many project management methods waste time, energy, and money by adhering to a rigid flow of events while losing sight of the end goal. This can make day-to-day work feel pointless and diminish team morale. SCRUM is thoughtful and deliberate about the process and focuses on ongoing goals. 

Help your employees and colleagues understand why you are using SCRUM methodology by explaining what’s in it for them:

  • It’s purposeful: SCRUM breaks that rigid mold in the best way possible. An efficient daily meeting — which is an element of all Agile methodologies — allows team members to discuss and respond to changes or unforeseen challenges.
  • It’s beautifully organized: Purpose and organization go hand in hand — with SCRUM, only tasks that add defined value to the client go on the priority action list.
  • It sets them up to succeed: SCRUM breaks projects into manageable chunks that the team agrees on in the sprint planning phase. The product backlog and sprint plan function as living documents and evolve to meet the demands of each phase of the project.
  • It gives them a voice: Your team helps select tasks for the sprint phase and can voice concerns and outline how to proceed.
  • It’s hands-on up to a point: No one likes to be micromanaged, but conversely, no one likes to be left to flounder. Daily SCRUM meetings are also troubleshooting sessions that allow collaborators to isolate problems weighing the project down and shift responsibilities. 
  • It improves workflow each time: We rarely pause to evaluate our workflow and pinpoint where improvements on a project should be made. SCRUM builds this review into the project cycle. If you need to address a workflow issue, you and your team can do so at the completion of each phase of the project. 

Free lesson from Scrum for Agile Scrum Practitioners by Ray Sheen, PMP

The benefits of SCRUM for project management

Enhanced flexibility and adaptability

Have you ever found yourself in a project where requirements kept changing, and traditional project management approaches struggled to keep up? SCRUM thrives in dynamic environments, offering a flexible framework that embraces change.

By breaking projects into short iterations called sprints, SCRUM allows you to adjust priorities and adapt to evolving needs. This means you can respond swiftly to new insights or market demands, ensuring your projects stay on track and deliver real value.

For example, imagine you're developing a mobile app, and during the development process, users provide feedback requesting additional features. With SCRUM, you can easily incorporate these new requirements into the next sprint, enabling you to effectively meet customer expectations.

Increased collaboration and communication

Projects are rarely accomplished in isolation. They require seamless collaboration and effective communication among team members. This is where SCRUM truly shines. By emphasizing cross-functional teams and regular collaborative meetings, such as daily stand-ups and sprint reviews, SCRUM fosters a culture of open dialogue and knowledge sharing.

Consider a situation where a software development team is working on a complex project. By using SCRUM, they hold daily stand-up meetings, where each team member shares progress, challenges, and plans for the day. This regular interaction ensures everyone is aligned and can quickly address any obstacles or bottlenecks. The result? A more cohesive team that can deliver high-quality outcomes together.

SCRUM is...a rugby term, and the more we situate it within the teamwork approach of the sport, the more it makes sense as a project management methodology.

Faster delivery of high-quality products

In today's competitive market, speed is of the essence. SCRUM's iterative approach enables rapid development and delivery of working increments, allowing you to showcase tangible progress to stakeholders early and frequently.

By delivering small, functioning pieces of the project at the end of each sprint, you can gather feedback, make necessary adjustments, and continually improve the final product.

Imagine you're managing a website redesign project for an e-commerce business. With SCRUM, you can prioritize and deliver essential features in the early sprints, ensuring that the website is up and running, generating revenue, and meeting customer needs while additional enhancements are being developed in subsequent sprints.

This iterative delivery approach accelerates time to market, making sure your organization stays ahead of the competition.

Improved productivity and efficiency

Efficiency is the backbone of successful project management. SCRUM provides a structured framework that enhances productivity by eliminating unnecessary tasks and focusing on high-value work.

By breaking projects into manageable user stories and assigning them to self-organizing teams, SCRUM enables individuals to take ownership of their work and make decisions collaboratively.

Let's say you're managing a marketing campaign that involves multiple deliverables, such as content creation, social media management, and analytics tracking. With SCRUM, the marketing team can prioritize and tackle each user story separately, ensuring they work on the most valuable tasks first.

This targeted approach not only boosts productivity but also empowers team members to take ownership of their work, resulting in a motivated and engaged workforce.

4 benefits of scrum

Addressing SCRUM-related employee concerns

As with any new methodology or approach, implementing SCRUM in project management may raise some concerns and misconceptions among your employees. It's essential to address these concerns head-on and provide them with the necessary information and reassurance. When introducing SCRUM to your team, you might encounter questions like, "Will SCRUM add unnecessary complexity to our projects?", "Does SCRUM mean constant micromanagement?" or, "How does SCRUM benefit me personally?" 

It's crucial to educate your employees about the core principles of SCRUM and dispel any misconceptions. Let's explore some common concerns and how to address them to help your employees embrace SCRUM with confidence.

It's best to address employee concerns head-on.

Is SCRUM complex?

Take the concern about complexity, for example. SCRUM actually simplifies project management by breaking down work into manageable chunks and providing a clear framework for prioritization and collaboration. By explaining the simplicity and transparency that SCRUM offers, you can help employees see how it reduces complexity and increases efficiency.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

One common concern when transitioning to SCRUM is the potential confusion about roles and responsibilities. Employees might ask, "How does my role fit into the SCRUM framework?" or "What is expected of me as a member of the development team?" It's essential to provide clear guidelines and define the responsibilities of each role in SCRUM.

For instance, you can explain that the Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the SCRUM process and removing any obstacles that hinder progress. The Product Owner is the bridge between the development team and stakeholders, ensuring that the product vision is effectively communicated and prioritized.

The development team is responsible for delivering the increments of the project, collaborating closely and self-organizing to achieve the sprint goals.

By clarifying these roles and emphasizing the collaborative nature of SCRUM, you empower employees to understand their contributions and the role they play in the project management framework.

How SCRUM supports employee growth and development

Employees often want to know how adopting SCRUM will support their professional growth. Questions like "Will SCRUM enhance my skills?" or "What opportunities for growth does SCRUM offer?" can pop up. It's important to highlight the positive impact SCRUM can have on employee development.

For example, SCRUM encourages cross-functional teams and regular collaboration, providing opportunities for employees to expand their skills and knowledge. By working closely with colleagues from different disciplines, they can gain exposure to new areas and learn from their peers. SCRUM also promotes continuous learning and improvement, with retrospectives at the end of each sprint to reflect on what went well and what could be improved.

You can share success stories and anecdotes from other organizations that have implemented SCRUM, highlighting how employees' skills were honed and career advancement opportunities were created.

By emphasizing the personal and professional growth aspects of SCRUM, you can motivate your employees to embrace the methodology and view it as a catalyst for their development.

Ready, set, SCRUM!

People resist big changes in strategy or to “the way we’ve always done things.” One of the best ways to implement SCRUM is to help people improve their own project management skills with short SCRUM courses.

Your employees and colleagues are busy and surely feel they don’t have time for online courses. Well-designed online training — breaking lessons down into short and manageable pieces — is a flexible and time-efficient tool for guiding your team through the switch to a SCRUM project management method. 

Tutorials as short as 3-6 minutes can educate and train you and your team with content based on your unique needs, such as videos for product owners, practitioners, SCRUM masters, managers, and teammates alike.

Making the change to SCRUM isn’t about adopting a new trend or adding complexity to your process — it’s about doing work the way it was meant to be done. Everybody wins, and unlike rugby, it’s painless.

Want to introduce your employees or colleagues to SCRUM? Check out SCRUM for Team Members and start driving better outcomes and project success.

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Ben Shanbrom

Ben Shanbrom

Ben Shanbrom is a project manager, content strategist, freelance writer and touring musician from Connecticut. He graduated from Boston College with a BA in Journalism and Philosophy and specializes in edtech, elearning and gig economy.