Rugby union can seem a strange and unnecessarily painful game at the best of times – and certainly not very software development related. However, for a team to successfully negotiate 80 minutes of bone crunching tackles and come away with the right result, something special has to happen. 15 individuals with very different skills have to come together, understand their roles, how they relate to the others in the group, and what they will all do to retain the ball and reach their common goal as a unit – throughout the various phases of the match.
Believe it or not, the same principles are also at the heart of delivering great software. Exact Online’s development uses the SCRUM method, a process focusing on delivering the greatest added value to our customers in the quickest time possible. So, are our developers, designers and testers lining up in the office, binding at the shoulder and barging each other through desks and into the coffee machine? Not exactly.
What is SCRUM?
The SCRUM methodology breaks up our work cycle into periods of two weeks (‘sprints’) where work is effectively self-managed by the people building the product. The SCRUM teams respond to the prioritised needs of the ‘product owner’, deciding within their group what work can be feasibly driven to completion with the coming period– the highest priority always addressed first. In real terms this means that each sprint returns new, highly desirable functionality that’s practically ready to go. With the whole team aware of what needs to be achieved and happy that their commitments are matched correctly to the time-frame involved, the need for traditional project management is removed. It’s a system that gives control over building the product back to the people most suited to make the decisions.
And why choose SCRUM?
With other approaches to software project development (based on long, linear planning), some functionality can take months to reach completion. Unfortunately the nature of the business means that demands are always changing. When the scope changes, detailed plans for far into the future can often prove pointless way before they are realised. With scrum, you’re only ever dealing with what’s most important and making sure that it’s delivered. Regularly.
So, next time you come across 30 men in a field seemingly trying to kill each other, remember that there is some method in their madness. There’s a team in there working together, blending skills and experience to achieve success together. Just like at Exact Online. Our commitment to SCRUM is indicative of how we feel about our product and our customers – continually adding maximum value as quickly as it’s possible to do so.