Optimize Your Agile Team Through Accountability

Part 3: Complete SCRUM meeting policies & template

Our development team has been leveraging SCRUM meetings for about a year with great success. We have gone through three major revisions over that time and we’re very happy with our current process. In previous blog posts I discussed how our development team implements our Agile process through SCRUM meetings. As a follow-up to that post, I wanted to share our template and framework which can be adapted for your development team.

The most challenging part for us was incorporating accountability into our process. Not that our team wasn’t accountable, but rather getting each member to set their own daily goals, execute those goals and stay accountable to the entire team was difficult. Without a platform, it was impossible to measure and monitor our success.

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If you are ready to implement our strategies with your team, I have outlined the steps.

Step 1: You’re in charge (or at least let’s assume that’s true.) This is the new policy and it needs to be conveyed accordingly. Without buy-in by the entire team, you’ll get nowhere. If you don’t have the authority to change polices, draft a plan to take to whoever is in charge and convince them that your process is broken and you’ve got the answer.

Step 2: Document the SCRUM policies. Keep this extremely short; after all, Agile development is all about small, incremental steps, so why would the policy be any different? I put my less-than-one-pager at the bottom of this post; you can model yours from that. Take it, modify it, use it.

Step 3: Set a date and time for your SCRUM meetings. I suggest meeting four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Pick a time which is best for your team. Keep in mind when your team may be the most productive, and DON’T pick that time. Our SCRUM times are 4:45pm each day. There are two advantages to this time: people are worn out at the end of the day and probably just running down the clock anyway, and you have a forced “15 minute” window because no one wants to stay late.

Step 4: Pick a SCRUM leader or facilitator. This should be someone who is good at keeping notes and has great attention to detail. The facilitator will make quick notes of everyone’s tasks (preferably, type them directly into a project management system like Trello). The facilitator will ensure that what you said you were going to do tomorrow actually gets done. They don’t need to be a dick about it either- things come up and tasks slip.

Step 5: As the management, it is your job to see the big picture and make sure everyone is working at their optimal performance toward your business goals. You need to attend every SCRUM meeting and constantly assess and adjust the tasks and priorities as necessary. You also need to make quick decisions; don’t let decisions sit for a day because it holds up your team.

Step 6: People don’t like to talk about being behind or stuck on a task. You must break that mindset – if you don’t your SCRUM meetings won’t work. Your team needs to be open, supportive and leverage collective knowledge. Developers understand that things come up, tasks turn out to be more challenging than anticipated, and deadlines will slip – accept it!

Step 7: Assess your team’s SCRUM policies after 30 days and adjust what is not working. Re-assess again every 30 days and keep adjusting. Solicit feedback directly from your team as well; don’t assume it is working for them.

Follow the processes provided here and you may be surprised at the success you’ll have by simplifying your process. Once you’ve had success with one team, consider bringing the same process to every other team in your organization. In an upcoming blog post I’m going to discuss how we leveraged the SCRUM process for our sales team.

I have been fascinated by optimizing our SCRUM processes and would love to hear about your success or strategy.

Agile Process Series

The key principle of Agile development is “agile”. If you’re not agile, you are not an Agile team. This blog post series, and a later eBook, will cover these topics:

I have been fascinated by optimizing our SCRUM processes and would love to hear about your success or strategy. Please send me a Tweet at @wbushee, or drop me an email. After all, shouldn’t we all leverage agile processes?

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Sample Template Policy

Dev SCRUM Meetings

  • 4:45-5:00pm Mon-Thur
  • Dev Team, everyone else is welcome to attend any meetings
  • Our facilitator will be [person]
  • All tasks will be put into [project management system]

SCRUM Format

  • As a standard, SCRUM meeting are held as a standing meeting (avoid sitting around a conference table)
  • Each participate needs to spend a few minutes before the meeting and prepare
  • Round-table for all participants providing commentary on the following three questions:
    • What did I accomplish today? (since this is at the end of the day)
    • What will I do tomorrow?
    • What obstacles are impeding my progress?

SCRUM Methodology

  • Everyone needs to be honest about their struggles so we can all help address them.
  • The style of this format creates accountability by the team. If someone plans on doing something tomorrow but fails to do so, we want to discuss the issues which prevented the task from getting done.
  • Only SCRUM-worthy tasks will be discussed, others will be spun off into a separate meeting.
  • Continue to leverage [project management].
  • The team will be defining weekly or bi-weekly goals which we’ll write down and review weekly.
  • Remember, these are YOUR meetings – we are here to facilitate and help everyone fulfill their best potential. If you are unable to accomplish a task, then let’s address the reasons why, fix them and move on.