Impact of work from home on Scrum Methodology for startups

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impact of work from home on scrum methodologies

Scrum Methodology for startups

Agile teams are meant to work together. They are envisioned to sit in front of each other discussing the problems and solving them face to face. The goal was towards effective communication and fast results. Usually this methodology is used to build a strong team. This team is expected to work together by being in touch at small intervals of time. The team mates understands each others strengths and support each other through out the term of the project. But the whole concept of this has been altered due to the ongoing pandemic. Teams working together on the same working space has become imaginary.

The companies have cut up their teams and have been forced to redistribute. Therefore the teams whose works were dependent on this agile structure are in the crossroads of new adjustments. It is thus not wrong to say that there has been tremendous difficulties that have been faced by a lot of teams.

Impact of work from home on scrum

Agile teams which are used to working together, communicating within short distances faced a drastic change when work from home came into action. The team members were isolated with natural hindrances in communication. Some of the common challenges faced by the teams were:

Productivity issues– When the teams are in their working spaces like offices the managers get the work done as per the requirement of the project. But as the team mates work from the comfort of the home it always not absolute that whether or not the team and the team mates will reach their full potential and productivity. This becomes a matter a concern for the managers and team leads.

Virtual Collaboration– collaborating and communication between team members become difficult. If the teams are spread are across the globe then it becomes even more difficult because of the altered time zones.

Trust Building– Like the team mates may or may not reach their full potential it is also uncertain whether or not the team leader is capable of leading the team remotely. This can in turn break the confidence of the team. The team can gradually disintegrate creating distrust among the team members.

Quantifying work– It is difficult to understand what should be the proper productivity of a team which is working from home. Especially if this situation is a new one it is very difficult to a set a permanent goal.

Dependency Management– If the teams are spread across different time zones, the time required to reach results are delayed because the teams are dependent on each other for the progress.

Agile Challenges and Solutions

Increasing the Teams Productivity

Even if the team is working remotely its not very difficult to have high effectiveness and good productivity inly if there are certain tools which are set. Thus some pointers that should always be kept in mind are:

To create small teams– If the teams are small they can work more effectively with better communication. It is also easier to attend to more important tasks faster for them.

Prioritize– Prioritizing the most important task at hand is one of the most important skills.

Regular Virtual Meeting– Having regular meetings with all the team mates and team leads to have a clear conception about the project and the work and responsibilities of each and every member. This also leaves no room for mistakes or communication gaps.

Agile Coaching– Agile coaching helps in getting insights on the right tools to be used in the project. The coach also provides guidance according to his own experiences.

Remote Scrum Master

When working remotely the scrum master might face some obvious problems like:

Since everything becomes virtual the advantages of having face to face conversations are lost. It is more difficult to identify the problems as the team members are not physically present and it is almost impossible to take up physical clues.

Team members on the other hand are also not used to collaborating virtually which will affect the productivity of the team as well as the person.

Every kind of tool used by the scrum master has to have an alternative which would appropriate to be used in a work from home environment. Many times this becomes a task difficult to implement.

Communication gaps are extremely common and normal in such situations especially because there is no physical space that is shared within the team. Even when there are team meetings virtually, they might go off the track due to connectivity errors or irrelevant conversations.

Steps that might be followed are:

Increasing communication

Working remotely and thus scrum methodology in a remote situation are not alien concepts. Even before the pandemic hit lots of organizations were operating on a remote setup. According to reports for over a decade, many companies have to use telecommunication as a way to run the work.

There are varied options of tools that can be used to make sure that this virtual way of work can be done seamlessly. The communication tools that can be used are:

  • Group Chat Tools: Slack, Twist, Chanty, Microsoft Teams.
  • Video Chat Tools: Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Skype.
  • Video Conferencing Tools: Discord, Voxer.

For a Scrum Master probably the video conferencing tools are the most effective. While choosing the best option the master should ask the following questions:

  • Would the video conferencing feature cost more?
  • How many people can join the meeting at the same time?
  • Incase the team gets bigger should any glitches be expected?
  • Would it support screen sharing?
  • When the right tools are chosen, it is also important to make the team members comfortable with the tool for effective and seamless usage.

Team Collaboration

The scrum master should make sure that the team is well versed with the tools and are organized for effective communication with in the team. This increases the chances of collaboration between the members of the team.

Thus there should also be tools which allows the whole team to perform activities together like: brainstorming, tutorials, strategy discussion etc.

Even though there are certain aspects of real time meetings that cannot be recreated like usage of whiteboards there are always other methods that can be followed.

Shared Input

When the team is bigger chances of the situation becoming chaotic is more compared to the situation where the team size is small. But collaborations can only happen when the whole lot of the team is together sharing their inputs and ideas.

The brain storming processes or planning meetings have to include the whole team and thus it becomes essential that there are spaces built for such meetings.

After the ideas have been discussed there should also be a window to organize these inputs and thus the Scrum Master have to decide on a tool for shared workspace.

Whiteboards

As the name suggests whiteboard tools are mirror images of physical whiteboards. However, there are extra features that come with such tools. Some of these features are: adding photos, videos files or paint directly for better explanation purposes.

Some online whiteboard examples are:

Shared Documents

While engaging in team collaborations it is very vital that the documents can be shared amongst all the team members.

Thus to support a situation where documents can be shared and edited tools that can be used are:

  • Google Docs
  • Slite
  • Dropbox Paper

Structure

After the inputs are collected from different team members, the scrum master is left with the important but tedious task of structuring and arranging them. Therefore effective project management tools are essential for doing this work.

This work can be done at different levels. For lower levels, mind maps can be used and for levels that are higher project management services can be used.

The Scrum Master can arrange for Task Boards where the tasks of the team members are put which are to be completed.

Examples of task boards are:

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Monday
  • JIRA

For low level input organization, the softwares that might be used are:

  • Canva
  • Coggle
  • MindMeiser

Scrum Tools

While working from home, the scrum methodology might get difficult to implement. However, the different available scrum tools can be used to make the job easier.

Daily Stand up tools

These tools might be a little difficult for the team mates to implement. The Scrum Master usually guides the team in such a situation. The basic guidelines for daily standup tools are:

Daily Stand ups should not be more than fifteen minutes.

The team members should equally communicate about their project. Sometimes it happens some team members communicate more about their project while others do not explain about their projects at all. This should be avoided.

When the work is happening virtually the most difficult thing to ensure probably is the presence of all team members. The different team members from different departments and multiple time zones have to be together with the present in the meeting.

Some tools that may be used are:

  • Geekbot
  • Krisp
  • DroidCam

Sprint Planning Tools

Sprint Planning tools are essential for the Scrum Master because the process of Sprint Planning is a complicated process. The collaboration between the team members and different teams needs not only planning and facilitation but also proper tools. This helps in proper backlog management and estimation.

Some of the tools that can be used to make this process easier are:

  • Planning Poker Tools: Scrum Poker, planITpoker, Delegation Poker.
  • User Stories Management: Cardboard, StoriesOnBoard

Retrospective Tools

Even when a particular activity is over it has to be continuously updated and improved. This includes the different working methods and processes, the different collaborations, and the efficiency and productivity. Thus Retrospective Tools allows this process. There are many teams who feel that this process is of no value and thus leave it out. However, it is the responsibility of the scrum master to keep at it.

The tools which can help in this process are:

  • Geekbot
  • Retrium
  • Funretro
  • Mindful

Conclusion

As the world remains in uncertainty of the pandemic, it can be assumed there is still time to return to the pre-pandemic normal. In these days of thus working from home, organizations can buckle up to transform the pre-existing agile and scrum methods for the new generation of workers. Even though it is difficult to be in front of each other real time, 21st century has come as a boon to provide the best of the virtual world.

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Bluein Christian
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Content Writer with experience of 6+ years. Have experience writing content for different industries, such as travel, education, fashion, and more. A creative person by birth and by profession. She loves learning new concepts and creating useful content about them. She loves traveling and is always up for new challenges.

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