Enhancing Project Communication Essential Tools and Techniques in Agile Scrum

Enhancing Project Communication Essential Tools and Techniques in Agile Scrum

Our company is using Agile Scrum to manage the project. The project communication for Agile Scrum is different from normal project communication. There are a few Agile Scrum techniques for increasing communications. This post covers three. The daily stand-up, iteration planning, and demo review sessions.

The daily communication with team members is achieved during a morning stand-up, as Cooke (2010) describes. The standup is normally done standing up, so it will not last long, but on our team, many sit down. The standup is for team members to communicate and coordinate what’s going on, monitor progress, and identify any obstacles that may be inhibiting progress, as Cooke (2010) discusses. The scrum master on our team displays an electronic Scrum board on the large screen in the meeting room using Rally Development software, now known as Computer Associates Agile. The software enables teams to support work with organizational priorities, continuously communicate on all the project progress, and coordinate work across multiple teams and distributed sites in the spirit of enterprise agility as described by RallyDev (2017). The scrum master displays current stories, which are units of work defined for a sprint, and asks each team member to communicate three things at the stand-up that usually lasts fifteen to thirty minutes. First, what did you complete yesterday? Then, what do you plan to complete today? Finally, do you have any blockers? The scrum master's job is to be sure the team members have no roadblocks that get in the way of completing stories in a sprint, as Cooke (2010) points out. The scrum master facilitates the meeting, and anything outside of the task's status on the scrum board is held until the end of stand-up for further discussion. This is referred as putting that discussion in the parking lot. The parking lot items come up during communication of status unrelated to a story, topic, or issue a team member would like to discuss with the team.

The Sprint iteration planning session, held at the start of each iteration, is a meeting where business owners discuss their goals and priorities, and the delivery team recommends what important work they can reasonably deliver in the future sprint iteration, as Cooke (2010) describes.

In some cases, depending on the nature and complexity of the work, the sprint iteration planning session can meet for as little as one hour or as much as eight hours, as Cooke (2010) points out. In most cases, Sprint iteration planning normally takes two to three hours for each sprint iteration, which happens every two or four weeks, as described by Cooke (2010). It is critical that decision-makers attend these sessions to ensure that the delivery team receives clear and decisive direction from the business before the iteration begins.

The demo review sessions are held at the end of each iteration of a set of sprints as Cooke (2010) describes. Normally, every two to four weeks, an iteration is completed. The demo review sessions are where business owners review the work completed by the delivery team in the previous iteration. They communicate and discuss any questions or concerns and update the requirements backlog to reflect any changes to the business requirements based on the result of this review. Like the iteration planning session, the duration of an outcomes review session will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the work completed. However, allowing between two and four hours for this session is reasonable.

Our Agile Scum teams are based in different countries. So, we have many communication tools we use to keep teams communicating. Communications are conducted through the use of Email and Zoom, a product that is part of RallyDev called Flowdock. Flowdock allows for chats one on one or group chats, as described by RallyDev (2017), and allows communications between our teams but also across the company. I find the group chats most effective in getting answers back quickly since the software runs on the workstation and mobile devices and also emails chats to someone if they are not active in the chat room at the time as. Zoom is a video conferencing and web conferencing software, as Zoom (n.d.) points out, and is used in most meetings so that remote teams can be included in discussions or team members working remotely can attend meetings and sessions. Having Zoom as part of our communications allows one to be almost anywhere to attend stand-ups or any meeting where communication needs to take place and makes collaboration easy with screen sharing and video.

References

Cooke, J. L. (2010). Agile principles unleashed : proven approaches for achieving real productivity in any organisation. Retrieved from (https://libcat.wellesley.edu/Record/ocn662258966)

RallyDev (2024). Rally for Developers. Retrieved from (https://techdocs.broadcom.com/us/en/ca-enterprise-software/valueops/rally/rally-help.html)

Verzuh, E. (2015). The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management, 5th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/9781119086673

Zoom. (n.d.). Zoom Features. Retrieved from (https://www.zoom.com/en/products/collaboration-tools/)

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