Scrum was originally defined as an Agile method to manage software development with teams. I’ve used Scrum to manage Process Improvement projects, where it turned out to be a real enabler for Continuous Improvement. Methods and Tools has published my article which describes how we have applied agile and scrum for process improvement. See Process Improvement, The Agile Way!
Scrum was used in 2 process improvement projects, one with a dispersed team at multiple R&D centers, and another which was run locally in a R&D center. We used a backlog of Process Improvement items, which was prioritized by our product owner, which was the manager of Organizational Development. In a planning game we defined the products and activities needed to realize the process improvement item. A wiki was used as work area for the team, containing the items to be delivered. At the end of every 3 week iteration, a demo was given to the product owner and the steering group. Every iteration was concluded with a retrospective, to continuously improve our way of working. Several agile practices were used like pair programming (jointly develop or update presentations and documents), frequent delivery and reviews (using the wiki to store items, and collect the comments), and effective communication (phone conference “stand-up meetings”, at least twice a week).
The main benefits from using agile and scrum were:
- Being able to deliver the right products with high quality, using frequent feedback
- Understanding the strengths & weaknesses of our processes, and the business value
- Alignment and streamlining of processes between several R&D centres
- Efficient ways for professionals to work together in a dispersed team
So you see, scrum can also be used to manage process improvement projects, to enable continuous improvement.