Whip Digital Agency Projects Into Shape With Scrum Basics

by | November 19, 2018
Kristin Sartain stands outside



Last month I went through Scrum Master training to learn how to better whip projects into shape, and I want to share a few takeaways from the two-day training. They say that Scrum is an easy process methodology to understand, but hard to master. I would agree with this wholeheartedly. One of the benefits of becoming a certified Scrum Master is that you get two days of in depth training on the basics, and the basics are where it’s at.

I found the training to be a great refresher of the WHY behind the various ceremonies and events: sprint planning, stand up, demo, retrospective. We meet for the Scrum events to inspect and adapt at various points in the sprint, in order to effectively produce working increments of a project that are closely tied to the business objectives. It’s important to hold these events to engage with the project team, Product Owner, and key stakeholders at various points in the sprint to ensure that we’re all working towards the same goal. If we’re not, we use the time to align and refocus.

Another basic tenet of Scrum we went over is sprint cadence. Without a consistent cadence to a sprint, your team loses some of the efficiencies that a methodology like Scrum can provide. Some of the ways you can establish cadence are: 1) scheduling standing meetings as early as possible in the project and 2) committing to the sprint time-box and sticking to it. Working in an agency environment can pose some challenges to following Scrum more strictly (i.e. multiple projects, distributed non-consistent teams, client acting as product owner,) but getting training on the basics can push you towards making little changes that will lead to more and more efficiencies.

In addition, the roles of a project team are important to determine as you kickoff a project. When working in an agency with clients, it might not be clear who should be the Product Owner and Scrum Master. Often there may be a project lead on the client side who can serve as the Product Owner, but they may be more comfortable with making someone on the agency side the deputy Product Owner. This may be an agency Account Manager. Constraints on the client side may make this a necessity.

You might think that a two-day training of the basics of Scrum sounds boring. And I’m sure that some sessions are rather dry. That’s why it’s super important to find a good (and properly certified) trainer. I can personally recommend Dave Prior from Leading Agile. I won’t give away any of his Scrum training secrets, but he provides an engaging agenda for the training and offers lots of real life stories from his experiences in years of project management that help to bring the concepts to life and keep the training interesting.

Kristin Sartain

Kristin Sartain

Director of Projects

Along with leading our team of account and project managers, Kristin manages select projects herself. She brings her whole self to her role, including significant experience working with universities, nonprofits, and community organizations. After she takes her trusty headset off for the day, she may be found wrangling her beloved twin toddlers, dog, and husband while sipping on gin and tonics with extra lime.