Scrum emerged as a method for developing software in the mid-1990s from the Lean philosophy. The innovative principles used in Scrum helped form the basis for the emergence of the Agile philosophy, as expressed in the "Agile Manifesto" in 2001. Meanwhile, the principles of Agile and Scrum also found their way into broader domains such as product development and project management. There, too, they ensure shorter lead times but, above all, results that are fully in line with the needs of customers and other stakeholders.
For the abovementioned reasons, but also because Agile and Scrum principles closely match our DNA, Stanwick fully embraced these new methods. This way, we help customers integrate these valuable insights into their processes. Stanwick also has certified SCRUM Masters for this purpose.
Agile as described in the Agile Manifesto is a philosophy, a mindset, characterised by a set of values and principles. The manifesto itself does not describe application methodologies. But the Agile values and principles can possibly be interpreted broadly according to the considered application domain and thus lead - as it were automatically - to improved practices.
The 4 values that form the foundation for Agile are:
- People and interaction over processes and tools - this leads to the use of self-managing teams: teams decide what needs to be done, execute, identify what is holding them back and take responsibility for solving the problems, in collaboration with other stakeholders inside and outside the organisation. This also implies that everyone has the necessary information to make the right decisions at any time. To enable this self-direction, however, there is a need for a strict process and clear boundary conditions, as described in the Scrum framework.
- Working product over comprehensive documentation: typical of Agile is working in a series of short development cycles where the objective is always to incrementally achieve a well-defined, concrete (partial) result. This could, for example, be a new piece of software, a certain product functionality or a step in a new process.
- Customer cooperation over contract negotiations: the emphasis is on direct and intense cooperation with the customer, in mutual trust. This means that the customer/user is very closely involved in the project and adjusts and validates the outcome of each development cycle. On the other hand, the development team must also dare to question customer requirements where it makes sense.
- Responding to change over following a plan: getting immediate and frequent feedback from customers, users and stakeholders, and responding appropriately, ensures that you end up where you really need to be, and not where you first thought you needed to be. Plans and actions should always be adapted to changing realities and adjusted as you better understand the real needs of the customer.
Listing, interpreting and commenting on the 12 Agile principles is beyond the scope of this article but in summary, these principles lead to maximising knowledge through rapid feedback, mobilising the necessary competences, facilitating collaboration, rapid application of new knowledge, and continuous improvement of the process and delivered product.
Scrum is the best-known Agile framework and was mainly used for the development and/or implementation of new software. But nowadays, Scrum is also used more broadly, such as in product development or process development. The main elements of the Scrum framework are:
- Values and principles, in line with the Agile values and principles described above.
- Defined Roles, Events and Artifacts working together according to certain rules in a strict Process
- Self-organising teams
- Working in "Sprints": short well-defined iterations, each of which must deliver a clear "product increment".
The strong point of Agile and Scrum is that implementation does not require lengthy preparation. Compulsively following one method or THE rules should not: variations and adjustments to one's own specific circumstances are certainly possible. More important is to start from the Agile/Scrum mindset: if you pick it up, you can start using it today! Learning and improving about it in the process is part of it.