What is Scrum?
Scrum is a project management method, based on organizing work into short periods of time (sprints), during which the product that the team is concentrating on has to come to a fully workable item. This way the general idea, the whole process and the project offshoots can be reviewed regularly and adjusted when necessary.
This helps to keep the objectives right and up to date, and - as described by Scrum's co-creator, Jeff Sutherland in "Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" - it saves people from doing unnecessary work.
What are the rules of Scrum?
Aside from the basic division into short iterations, Scrum also asks for you to split your team into even smaller teams, each of which meant to include representatives of different specialties.
For the whole Sprint you're meant to set a Work in Progress limit, that will determine the maximum amount of tasks that can be performed at any given time by the team.
Another Scrum characteristic is writing Stories (it can be a user, customer, owner, programmer story). They become the leading element behind any action. They give the team an idea of precisely what is meant to be achieved, how do all the seemingly separate tasks come together and what are they going to add up to in the end.
What is typical for Scrum is a daily Scrum meeting, during which each team member answers three questions: what have they done since last meeting, what will they be doing today and what are the problems that are coming their way? This helps to integrate the team by underlining each team member's input into the process.
Natural consequence of Scrum's iterative ways are regular process reviews. By assessing how well (or not) things are done and asking the team's opinion the group is able to regularly adjust the procedures or assignment patterns. All for the betterment of the workflow in general.
How to use it?
The traditional way of doing Scrum is with the use of a whiteboard, onto which the Stories, the current and future Sprint tasks (possibly in a "to do" - "doing" - "done" form) are pasted. The team tends to hold the daily Scrum meetings in front of the board, which makes for a good focal point. Once a task is completed, it is meant to be moved onto another column.
Nowadays though, it is making more and more sense to do Scrum via an online software. The idea being, that a team creates a Scrum board in the cloud, and than allows access to it to each team member.
How is Scrum software superior to a physical Scrum board?
Even though it's great to hold the Scrum meeting by a physical board, this is very likely the one and only advantage of a real-life solution. Switching to a digital, online service instantly makes your team far more flexible and mobile. Suddenly it's not a problem to hire a professional form the other side of the world. They can be just as well updated on any developments and changes as your office employees.
Another great benefit of using an online software is the simplicity of making changes to the board or completely reinventing it. Also - for very large teams - with physical boards there is the issue of visibility and accessibility. A whiteboard can only be in one place at a time and more often than not, the team members will have to come in to another room to be able to take a look at it. Now with a virtual Scrum board, the whole team can be looking at it at ay given time without even standing up from their desks.
The actual moving of the task cards is also much simpler with an online solution, and the information about this change is distributed across the team in real time.
A fantastic bonus of using an online Scrum board is the amount of information that a virtual card can take in comparison to a physical sticky note (not very editable either). From online attachments, due dates, checklists, assignments, priorities to an unlimited number of comments - this really provides a lot of information about the task.
How to get started right away?
The best way to get started now is to start using Kanban Tool online software. Despite the Kanban suggestion, the flexibility of the tool allows for complete customization of the workflow, so that it suits your needs, whether you want to do Scrum, Kanban or Scrumban. With Kanban Tool you can design your own workflow, make own Scrum policies, set a WIP limit for any column and share this information with your whole team. Once this is done, they can all take active part in the process and stay informed about all changes - as they happen.
Kanban Tool is an online visual management service with a wide range of features, trusted by over 25 000 users all over the world. Kanban Tool offers a free trial on all accounts - no credit card number or personal details are required. Register now and try it!