Do agile methods like Scrum work digitally differently than analog?
The be-all and end-all of Scrum is communication. Pretty much the first thing many think of when they hear “agile software development service” is the daily stand-up meeting. When I got into Scrum, we grabbed our coffee cups every morning and headed to the morning daily, meeting in the meeting room for a review or a retrospective.
The essential core of agile working with Scrum is networking, flexibility, and the continuous questioning of what has been achieved so far. Of course, this is only possible through regular exchange, talking to each other, and close cooperation. The central question after the move to the home office was: Would it work to organize a model based on ritualized meetings, immediate feedback, and joint analyzes in a decentralized manner from one day to the next? The result in advance: It worked.
To the point Digital collaboration
Childcare here, homeschooling there, always on the go. In March 2021 we started a new project. For the largest parliamentary group, more than 20 SharePoint learning films had to be created – from entry-level to high-end know-how for IT professionals. The topic was of course exciting: digital cooperation. How does this work in a faction? What does the Bundestag have to do with it? And how can we organize ourselves as a team from the home office?
Video space instead of meeting room
We managed to develop a routine. Every morning at 8:45 sharp, we click into our virtual meeting room – camera. What did we do yesterday? What is still to be done? Who is doing what now? And is there anything that prevents us from fulfilling our task? The most important questions in a nutshell. Short and sweet. It turned out that our targeted 15-minute time box was initially too tight. Therefore we have extended our meetings to 30 minutes. With a little practice and discipline, we kept to that with 7 people and were able to gradually reduce the times back to 15 minutes.
The team? Cross-functional
Program specialists, trainers, screenwriters, graphic designers, marketing, and politicians – our team couldn’t have been more colorful to get the planned films off the ground as quickly as possible. You can only do that if you see yourself as a team and don’t pass on the work status from department to department. We used Microsoft Teams and an integrated SharePoint for the tooling and gradually developed a pretty good variant of collaboration there. The status of the work was clearly visible at all times, and there were no overlaps. If there were bottlenecks, the team could provide immediate support. There was coordination in the team via group chats, telephone calls, or video conferences in small groups. Sure, at first there are still problems in a few places. But in a very short time, something like a best practice develops.
We learned a lot. Of course, not everyone on our team was the absolute SharePoint guru from the start. Thanks to the small stages (“sprints”), however, we managed to go in the right direction step by step. The regular exchange in the team also helped to organize at home and to adapt to the new work situation.
In the meantime we are saddle-solid. The SoftEd Studio was gradually upgraded technically and is slowly in no way inferior to ZDF & Co. Our film shoots became more and more professional.
It is important for the learning process that we make things simple in software development service. That we also address problems from a distance if we are not making any progress and also feel subliminal obstacles. One member of the team always has an idea. There is a team for that. The trick is to use that. Especially if you are far away from each other and only work together digitally.
Our project and Corona together were a time of experiments. New and innovative solutions were needed. Step-by-step experimentation with agile methods served us well. In a short time, we have achieved a lot together and can say: that Remote Scrum works. However, many social components of work are missing, which are often enlightening and often also a spark for good ideas and productive cooperation: the chat in the cafeteria, the tea kitchen, and the spontaneous appointment for lunch together. Online tools can only cushion interpersonal exchange to a limited extent.