Wed, 16 September 2015
If you’ve been listening for a while, you've heard me mention the word Scrum. When you hear this word, you do one of two things:
Listeners in both these camps are going to love today’s episode, because I’m going to talk about this amazing project management method and how it has revolutionized the way I get my business done.
To start off, Scrum is not my own made-up word—I got it from a book called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. (Sounds pretty good, right?)
And basically, the concept of Scrum is just that: managing a team of employees and contractors in the smartest way possible.
I used Scrum throughout the process of creating my newest product, “Webinars That Convert.” Basically, I set up a checklist of every single thing that needed to get done on this product—from creation to promotion to sales to management—and my team and I “Scrummed” our way through it!
Not coincidentally, it’s the same checklist I used for promoting the Profit Lab last spring. That’s why I’m offering the same giveaway this week—the step-by-step project plan checklist that puts all the chaos of a new product launch into sanity-saving order.
Click Here to Get The Project Plan Checklist
This checklist goes hand-in-hand with today’s topic—download it and you’ll be well on your way to Scrumming your first project.
There are the four main ways that Scrum really helps my business reach its productive sweet spot:
It increases your team’s speed to completion.
It highlights performance.
It creates cross-functional teams.
It fosters consistent communication.
Scrum for Small Businesses
The book about Scrum was written with big corporations in mind, so I had to do a little tweaking to make it work for my small business.
For instance, the Scrum team is made up of the product owner, the team, and the Scrum master.
The product owner (that’s me) takes the vision of the project and translates it into a backlog (that’s the project plan checklist I put together).
In a giant company, the product owner would handle the backlog all by herself. But I’m lucky enough to have a small team of awesome employees that can help me develop the backlog. They’re going to see things that I miss and have valuable input. And because it’s a small team, it’s a manageable number of voices contributing to the project vision.
Next, the team develops the product or completes the project envisioned by the product owner. For me, that means delegating tasks to a couple of part-time employees and a slew of awesome contractors.
Finally, there’s the scrum master. That is the project manager. It can be a designated employee on your team, it can be a contractor, or it can even be one of your team who serves as scrum master temporarily for a particular project.
Note: I do not think the project owner should be the scrum master. This is a surefire way to end up burned out. I definitely fell victim to burn-out in the past, whenever I tried to fill both of those roles.
Hiring the role out is going to be better for you and for your team. Yes, you won’t necessarily know what’s going on at every minute of the day with your project, but take it from me: that is a beautiful thing. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor, and delegate the scrum master role to someone else.
(If the idea of delegating this role to someone else sounds too hard, too expensive, too time-consuming, I get it. Listen to the full episode—I’ll give you some ideas to creatively enlist a scrum master, no matter how big or small your business is.)
How Scrum Works
#1: The Project Backlog
The project owner creates a list of all the tasks you can think of that will go into the project you are putting together.
#2: The Sprint
You decide what you are going to focus on inside the backlog during a small sprint—a week or so of focused work. These small increments save people from getting lost in the weeds. They also keep the product owner on the pulse of what’s happening.
You work as a team on the sprint, with daily scrums—15-minute check-in calls with the team.
#3: The Sprint Review
Once the week is over, you do a sprint review. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs to be tweaked? And then you are off to your next sprint.
These small increments of focused work are the real beauty of scrum. Just look at that project plan checklist I gave you—it would have totally overwhelmed my team if we had looked at the backlog and said everyone should just dive in and get it done!
The Daily Scrum
This daily check-in is the most powerful part of the Scrum method.
It’s me, my VA and my project manager (or scrum master). We never go over 15 minutes (unless we get a little too chatty!).
We focus on three words during a daily scrum: done, plan, and problems. Basically it’s me asking “What have you gotten done, what are you planning to get done, and where are you having problems?” As the scrum master reports on this and my VA chimes in with her feedback, we all end up with a total understanding of where the sprint is at.
The same thing happens when we’re doing a sprint review, just in the past tense. And we take notes on every part of the process—what worked and what didn’t work—so that when the next project comes up, we can adjust the backlog as necessary.
What Scrum Reveals
Along with helping you manage the potential chaos of a big project, Scrum is really helpful for bringing to light the patterns in your work that need…well, that need work.
One of the biggest things the Scrum approach has shown me is that I need to give myself more time in every project I do. More time to plan, more time to create content, more time to brief my team on their tasks…you get the idea.
To be honest, I kind of knew this already in my gut. (I mean, that’s why we feel stressed, right? Because we don’t have enough time to get everything done!) If I feel pressed for time, it’s going to trickle down to my team and they’re not going to have the time they need to do the work I’m assigning them. It’s that simple. But I didn’t realize it until I started implementing Scrum.
The bottom line is, if you don’t take the time to communicate well with your team, it will cost you money because they will do it wrong. And Scrum is an amazing way to keep that communication alive.
Best of all, the Scrum method gets easier and more efficient every time you use it! It’s kind of intense, it’s all-consuming, but when it’s over, it’s completely done and you’ve got a completed project.
Grab the free PDF project backlog (if you haven’t already) and start warming up to Scrum in your business. And let me know how it works for you!
Get The Project Plan Checklist