The concept of Agile/Scrum is the new reality for most software development companies. Scrum is a project management system that helps cross-functional teams organize their execution of big projects. It’s perhaps the most popular of the Agile systems that emphasize constant, incremental evaluation in the process of developing software.
Scrum helps teams achieve agility by dividing projects into incremental bits, accomplished in phases known as “sprints,” each with its own deadline. The portion of the project assigned to a particular sprint is planned, executed, tested, and evaluated within the given timeframe. Once the task is completed within the timeframe, the client is invited to evaluate and review the results. The review is communicated back to the team, then the second sprint kicks off. Reviews are incorporated as the next phase of execution is planned, executed, tested, and then evaluated again. This cycle continues until the project is fully rolled out.
Scrum is appreciated because it tends to save time and resources and ensures that the client and team are on the same page at every phase of task deployment.
While Scrum was developed for agile software development firms, some other kinds of teams are finding Scrum useful, especially within the creative agency niche. Although Scrum is not useful in every kind of creative agency, we have found it is seamlessly adaptable to some agencies that deal in consulting, design, engineering, and marketing.
How to adopt Scrum for your creative agency
To adopt Scrum for your creative agency, you must first determine the applicability of the Agile system to your team. That means taking stock of your product type, team structure, team size, and clientele. An agency focused on providing service or a team with a complex structure of members probably won’t find Scrum particularly adaptable to its project management. If clients aren’t prepared to be available for Scrum meetings and reviews, that will also mess up the process. Below are steps to take in incorporating Scrum/Agile to your team process.
Education and training
Start an introductory campaign about Scrum with your team. It’s important that your team doesn’t feel pressured into making this change, but fully understands the advantages of adopting Scrum and is open to the change—a bottom-up process. Building enthusiasm and ownership for the idea helps ease the transformation. After explaining reasons to make the change, teach the team how it works, theoretically and practically.
Try a demo project: assign roles and let team members act out their roles. This will give the team hands-on experience with Scrum. Allow room for mistakes and even failures. Once the team has learned enough, you can roll out the Scrum procedure for your next “small” project. Start slowly and build your expertise until you have a full-fledged Agile transformation.
Daily 10-minute Scrum meetings
Make a standing order to hold Scrum meetings daily. This is a brief meeting, just 10 minutes, led by the Scrum Master. Each ream member gives a status update on his/her role, so that everyone on the development team is kept in the loop.
Why do creative agencies need Scrum?
Teams that fully apply the Agile methodology of managing projects enjoy many benefits, including higher quality of input and output and improved customer engagement.
Here are some reasons teams need to adopt Scrum/Agile:
Speed: Scrum guarantees that less time is spent on irrelevant activity and constant back and forth. It not only keeps the entire team up to date with reviews and upgrades, it ensures that progress is real and incremental.
Efficiency: A failed product isn’t necessarily one that doesn’t work well. It’s a product that does not meet the purpose for which it was created. Communication with clients is a tricky process. Some clients just don’t effectively communicate their ideas, leading the team to create a totally different product than what the client envisioned. If communication is poor, the team may not be able to properly decode the client’s idea — which means it will end up with a failed product, one that doesn’t meet the client’s needs.
By adapting Scrum in project management, teams at creative agencies will be able to reconcile their concept of the product with those of the client early enough in the process to incorporate changes at the basic level.
Predictable result: Because stakeholders are in constant communication about the project, it is much easier to predict what the eventual output will be. The process rules out the possibility that what was created turns out quite differently from what was ordered. The team and client complete the project happy and satisfied.
Is it possible to adapt Scrum to UI/UX strategy?
It’s not only possible, it’s important to do so. What good is a product if it doesn’t incorporate feedback from user-centered testing? Rather than focus on reviews from the client and assume that users will automatically find the product useful, the team must ensure that what what is being developed has been vetted through user testing and excellently executes a great idea.
The reality is that many creative teams do not see it this way. They often find UX to be a siloed function, one that’s difficult to collaborate with. Hence, they bring the UX team onboard at the end of deployment.
The truth is that it’s cheaper to review UX designs than engineering products. Corrections are easier to incorporate at the UX level, and doing so represents a better use of software engineering time and resources.
In a late 2018 article, McKinsey, a management consulting firm, commented on this issue:
“UX is part of the continuous improvement process, always seeking to better understand users and select and design the features and product that best match their needs, solve their pain points, and bring them meaningful innovation.”
“Companies must embrace design holistically and early in the process rather than seeing it as a small tool that fits in later.”
“Firms that embraced UX design generated 32% more revenue and 56% more shareholder returns in a 5-year period. Declaring your company to be ‘user-centric’ isn’t enough. You must walk the walk by integrating UX practitioners and processes from planning and portfolio down through development and QA.”
Customer satisfaction comes first
The Agile Manifesto principle states that as a team, your highest priority is customer satisfaction. If software development is treated that way, asset management and version control will always be pointed in the right direction.
Skype’s 2017 redesign project is a cautionary tale. Skype’s 2017 redesign was aimed at incorporating Snapchat features to the app. This project turned out to be a failure. Users didn’t want the new version, so there was the need for a redesign. The truth is that if UX had been brought onboard during the planning, execution, and testing phases, the team would have discovered the users’ response long before the final execution of the project.
In conclusion, if you ever need to determine the applicability of your creative agency to Scrum or you need to run an Agile transformation for your team, consider hiring professional consulting services like ITSTEADY. ITSTEADY has a proven track record of successful engagement in Agile Transformation for several creative agencies around the globe.
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