In the interest of full disclosure, I may be a certified scrum master, but I’m no expert on the subject of Scrum or Agile. Reading a few books and taking a few classes just doesn’t make anyone an expert overnight. It takes years of experience and training.
Scrum is an Agile oriented framework and respected project tool that developed in the software creation world. It is used to develop highly functioning teams that can create software better, cheaper, and faster than the competition.
The approach values incremental development and leadership involvement. It reduces unnecessary work and improves customer satisfaction. Yes, Scrum is an effective framework for software creation. Yet, Scrum users often leave business owners and senior management with gaping questions.
My objective is to discuss ways of incorporating some Scrum basics into managing business projects and the problems that might arise when doing so.
In my blog post on Gantt charts, I discussed the need for a flexible approach in managing the creative and innovative projects completed in the business world. Scrum provides this flexible approach and offers a few other benefits to the business world:
- Active manager involvement can improve quality, ensure continued funding, and prevent overreaching and expensive efforts.
- Regular and frequent meetings build commitment and accountability. They add a sense of urgency, resulting in a speedier execution.
- Through periodic retrospectives, the team, much like an oarsman, does well to look backwards in order to move forwards.
To be useful to business leaders, other factors need consideration.
Scrum lingo means training
Scrum prides itself on its lingo which requires substantial training for Scrum participants. Obviously, better training results in improved project success. This may not work for small businesses completing isolated projects, projects relying on volunteers, or businesses needing ever changing skill sets.
An easy, user-friendly tool might offer these organizations the chance to enjoy some of the advantages of Scrum without the training investment.
Cash flow forecasts
Many business projects are more creative, and profit from a flexible execution. This makes creating and adhering to a budget difficult. It makes creating a reliable cash flow forecast nearly impossible. The concept of a flexible execution is inconsistent with knowing when the money will be flowing in and out on a project.
Compromise is needed. Project teams can execute in accordance with available cash flow when they are apprised of the firm’s cash flow constraints.
Agile project management is inconsistent with cash flow forecasting, but that’s no excuse for cost overruns.
We need a portfolio tool that tells executives where each project stands. It needs metrics on money, schedule, quality, risk management, and maybe, return on investment, or an alternative. The tool should allow management to drill down into the details of each project. It should allow teams to execute flexibly and adapt during changing times.
We will know when the business world has gotten project management right. Project success rates will improve and managers will stop tearing their hair out with tools that weren’t built for creative and innovative projects.
Photo credit: Agile Project Management by Planbox; Wikipedia; https://ow.ly/MZRAC