Is Scrum just for IT?

I had a conversation the other day with a coworker about Scrum. She was intrigued by the premise, but had always thought of Scrum as being a tool of IT teams. I explained to her that Scrum is not only applicable to IT teams, but to teams working on all types of projects.

Project management in general was initially used by construction teams and engineers. It later became adopted by teams working on projects in every possible discipline. If you were to ask people 25 years ago about project management, most people would respond that it was only for construction projects. Now, if you were to ask people about project management they would reply that it can apply to projects in any area of business.

Scrum, meanwhile, began in the arena of software development. Developers and project managers realized that their projects were not as successful as they should be and were looking for a methodology to improve their chances for success. They discovered that trying to meticulously plan all aspects of a project in advance was difficult if not impossible. This is due to the fact that the requirements and inputs to deliverables are constantly changing. As a result, Scrum and other agile methodologies were created. They allow for a greater degree of freedom in reacting to change.

This prevalence of change is not limited to software development projects. Any construction team can tell you that clients are always changing their specs (tile vs hardwood, deck vs patio, etc.). Likewise, marketing departments are always changing their marketing initiatives (print vs online vs television). It is this abundance of change that makes Scrum perfect for teams working in any area of a company. Scrum lets you adjust to change quickly while delivering maximum value to your clients.

Now how precisely should you follow Scrum within your team? This depends on your team’s individual situation, but all teams can take some aspects of Scrum and apply them to their projects. Below are some of the features/ideals of Scrum you can incorporate into your next project:

Scrum Meetings

  • Conduct monthly planning meetings to determine to tasks/deliverables to be completed that month
  • Conduct daily update meetings among team members
  • Conduct monthly review/demonstration meetings to show your stakeholders the progress you have made
  • Conduct monthly retrospective meetings that can be used to improve processes within your team/company

Scrum Roles

  • Scrum Master – person who is responsible for facilitating the project and removing impediments from the team’s path.
  • Product Owner – person who is responsible for representing end-users to the project team. Helps to prioritize work.

Scrum Ideals

  • Communication is more important than documentation – work with your clients to determine their needs and then work to deliver a product that satisfies them
  • Client feedback is better than inflexible requirements – when a client comes back with feedback, don’t immediately dismiss the change. Work with them, within reason, to update the product/process

In conclusion, Scrum has benefits that transcend departments. Just because IT folks developed the process does not mean that it is extremely technical or is only applicable to IT projects. Most projects in the real world are subject to changes in their environment and changes to the project itself. Scrum helps projects teams adjust to change in an effort to deliver maximum value to the client.

Good luck on your next project and hopefully Scrum can help your team succeed.

One Reply to “Is Scrum just for IT?”

  1. I think Scrum makes perfect sense in certain areas outside of IT. For example, we face a lot of the same challenges in marketing: tight turnaround times, ever-changing goals, the need for flexibility.

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