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Transparency as a basis within Scrum

Getting an organization involved in an Agile transformation is not easy, but often it is a combination of the small things that lead to success.

I have been guiding Scrum teams in their daily stand ups for quite some time now. We deal with the status of features, user stories and tasks in order to coordinate the work and have a plan for the next 24 hours. During these short intensive stand ups we often use digital tooling to provide insight into our progress.

Over the past period I have been able to supervise a number of Scrum teams within Damen Shipyards. At this organization, the “stand ups” always took place in a closed conference room sitting at a table. During the stand up, the digital Scrum board was opened and the status of user stories and tasks were discussed and external resources were connected through a call.

Due to the closed nature of the stand ups, there was a lack of understanding from the rest of the organization about how this Scrum process works. In addition, there was reluctance as to whether this working method could provide an advantage for current projects that were carried out according to traditional project management methods.

I wondered ”how can we make the Scrum method more transparent and more prominent in the department where I work” (50 Fte) so that everyone can take note of our progress and we can possibly apply the Scrum method throughout the organization?

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Making Scrum visible is the first step to success

In order to make Scrum live within the organization, I have chosen to use a physical Scrum board in addition to the digital tooling. In this way, Scrum is no longer "hidden" in a software tool that can be seen by a limited number of people. We show the entire organization that Scrum is alive and that results are achieved faster and more efficiently.

Our physical Scrum board is therefore a handy tool for us to make the status of the tasks visible during a Scrum sprint. The Scrum board is also referred to here as a Scrum task board. Simply, because we display all tasks that are performed during a sprint (the sprint backlog), with Post-its or Scrum cards on the board. The most important at the top, the less important tasks below. A camera is pointed at the board so that the external resources from India can directly participate in the stand up. In this respect, especially colleagues from India take on an active role, in which they also stand around the camera in India.

Using the physical Scrum board has the following advantages:

  • Everyone is focused and proactive in front of the board. No more waiting and reactive. He/she tells what he/she did the previous day, what he/she will do this day.
  • The Scrum members let the tasks (Post it's) move across the board from “To Do” to “Completed”, informing each other about this and this greatly promotes mutual cooperation and transparency (transparency) of the activities.
  • Information is actively shared with each other, often through the Scrum Master or Product Owner.

One of the characteristics of an Agile Scrum team is that it is documented as efficiently as possible. However, I also have to provide stakeholder groups such as portfolio management with information about the progress. We have therefore agreed that the themes, epics, features, user stories and the sprint results will be documented in the digital tooling.

Doing the right things… In the beginning, there was still some aversion within the teams to start using the scrum board, because we already have the tooling available digitally for this. During the past sprints, that picture has been completely reversed. It is experienced that every morning there is more interaction for the scrum board, whereby the team members want and can help each other more. The “spectators” have also joined and Scrum is now really landing within the entire organization. This has resulted in a form of cooperation that works within Damen Shipyards. The various parties involved have found a form with the physical scrum board that allows for pleasant interaction and communication about the right topics. Ultimately, that is of course the goal of every working method; do the right things!

In the meantime 3 other project teams have joined and they also have their daily stand up now in front of the board.

Scrum on!

Case manager

Frans van den Berg

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