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As 2018 is now drawing to a close and the Christmas festivities are in full swing, it seemed the perfect time to reflect on this year at oe:gen. The stand-out moment for me is definitely becoming a certified Scrum Master. Here's how I did that. 

I started out as your traditional waterfall Project Manager, learning the ropes with Salesforce and gaining more experience with the size and complexity of projects I worked on.

Here at oe:gen, we work closely with our clients to align our goals and work collaboratively to deliver successful projects. As the project teams grew, we needed a way to work more collaboratively as a team, so we could continue to deliver quality solutions — this is when we took the decision to adopt the agile methodology.

What's the agile methodology?

So far, the agile methodology has allowed us to focus on early delivery by working in smaller sprints. This allows for changes that focus on the needs of the user, provides transparency to clients, and fosters a much more collaborative way of working. Even better, it also supports the oe:gen core values; team work, professionalism, continuous improvement, and winning.

I first heard about the Scrum Master role as I became more familiar with this agile delivery methodology. From there, I took the plunge and decided to get certified so I could better support our agile rollout.

The training

The training took me to Manchester, a vibrant city where I enjoyed the shopping, restaurants and the England world cup game against Colombia (the one that went to penalties).

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It was a highly interactive two-day training course which covered the Scrum framework in detail — from theory and foundations, to practical application and pitfalls. It covered all the team roles, activities, and artifacts.

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In the words of Ed Sheeran, we really did 'build a lego house' to demonstrate the roles of the Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team during story point estimations, backlog management and sprint execution.

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It was a winning two days for me (and England, too!)

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What's made a difference?

There were some quick-wins I implemented as soon as I touched down back at oe:gen HQ:

‘Definition of Done’

Firstly, I wanted to align our use of language within the teams. I started with the definition of ‘Done’, which was needed to make sure we had a clear view of where exactly a task was during its project lifecycle.

This was quickly adopted by the team and has removed any assumptions we may have once had. We now have a shared understanding that ‘Done’ isn’t when a silo piece of work is complete, it’s when the full team agree that it's a shippable piece of work ready for our client's review.

Sprint Goal

Next was educating the team to set a sprint goal that's specific and measurable. The benefits this has given us is a clearer focus for the team and transparency for stakeholders. It also supports the roadmap planning and helps to make the right priority calls within a sprint that will have minimum impact on the sprint goal.

Physical Scrum Board

Last but not least, the daily physical scrum board was created. This involved a mass order of Post-it Notes and two large white boards, but I can explain! Everyday, the teams get together for 15 minutes for a scrum session and share progress on the sprint goal:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you working on today?
  • Are there any blockers preventing us meeting the sprint goal?

This board gives us a central focal point, so the whole team sees all the daily tasks and keeps them from just focusing on “their” tasks. The tangible tickets mean its more interactive, and most importantly, promotes collaboration and conversation.

We’ve also been adopting the key scrum ceremonies within project teams which we’re continually inspecting and adapting:

  • Daily stand-up scrums using the physical scrum board
  • Sprint planning sessions to collectively understand and agree the next focus of a project — this is where we set a sprint goal and the team assigns the project tasks
  • Sprint-review sessions to demo what has been achieved in the sprint — we also encourage clients to be a part of this session
  • Sprint retros are also used to review the sprint, but the focus is for the team to review what went well, what didn't, and what can be improved regarding people, relationships, process, and tools.

The most valued session for me out of all of these has been the Sprint retros. We look forward to these sessions to make sure the team is happy, and it gives us a chance to share our learnings and identify improvements. These sessions have helped us make regular improvements to our ways of working and has had a positive impact on the working culture.

The future

Since our new-found ways of working, we've seen a higher degree of collaboration between our clients and project team — and it's been an absolute pleasure to be a part of.

I'm a huge fan of the agile methodology and love my role as Scrum Master — not just for the super jazzy title! It's all about motivating our teams to be the best they can be and supporting the continuous improvement here at oe:gen.

There are lots of new processes that I'm working on in the background. I can’t wait to continue my journey in 2019 and to tell you all about it!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas.

Scrum Master Emma 😊

 

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