Agile and Scrum beyond Software Development

Agile and Scrum Beyond Software Development - Ben LindersIn one of my workshops I explored how to use agile and Scrum beyond software development, for example in marketing, sales, support and in management. I gave this workshop in-house for a client to an audience which was not directly involved in software development. Many good ideas came up when preparing and giving this workshop, in this post I’m sharing them with the agile community.

Over the years I’m using agile principles and practices from Scrum beyond software development. For example, I do process improvement with agile, use Scrum for process improvementreduce process debt with agile, manage projects using agile, and use agile to prepare and give training and workshops. I wrote about the golden rules for agile process improvement. I was also involved in eduScrum, an initiative where Scrum is used by students for education at school.

After giving a keynote at the 1st Conference in Melbourne I watched a talk from Eduardo Nofuentes about adopting agile beyond software. He slightly modified the agile manifesto to broaden it’s purpose while keeping the original thoughts:

We are uncovering better ways of working by doing it and helping others do it. Through this we have come to value:

Individual and interactions over processes and tools
Outcomes over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

I’m convinced that agile can be applied in many different areas. But, the information supporting this is scattered and sometimes hard to find, and that makes it difficult to use it and apply agile in other areas. Then the opportunity arose to bundle stuff …

Help from the Scrum Master Community

A client asked me to give a workshop about agile to an audience which was outside software development. Explaining the agile manifesto and concepts from Scrum in my opinion wouldn’t be enough. I wanted to show actual examples of using agile beyond software, both from my own practice and cases published by others.

I used my network and posted a question on Facebook in the Scrum Master Community:

I’m preparing a workshop on agile/Scrum for non-IT. Anything that I should include, like experience reports, reference websites, checklists?

I got a lot of good ideas and experiences, which are in my workshop, next to what I do with agile and Scrum. In return for the contributions I promised to publish an overview of the workshop; to share an extract of my sheets which includes examples from using agile and Scrum beyond software development. Well, here it is:

A big thanks to everybody who provided ideas, on Facebook or directly, or by publishing examples on the internet on how they used agile and Scrum. All of this is very inspiring, and helped me to compile the sheets for the workshop which helped my client to take the first steps towards increasing their agility.

Tailoring to use agile and Scrum beyond software

Of course you have to tailor agile and Scrum to support your needs. This is true when you use them in software development, but even more if using them beyond. Things to consider are:

  • Deliveries & Goal: What is it that you want to reach? Which agile principles and Scrum practices can help you to get there? How?
  • Custumers & stakeholders: Who do you have to involve to reach your goals and be able to deliver?
  • Team & collaboration: How do you want to work together? What needs to be arranged to make it possible?
  • Define “Done”: Which criteria need to be satisfied before something is good enough to deliver? Which existing processes and practices can be used?
  • How to get feedback: What can you do to know if you’re moving in the right direction (or not)? Which feedback do you need, from whom?

Summing up: Yes, you can certainly use agile and Scrum beyond Software Development. The agile mindset and principles are general enough to use them in many areas.

Share your experiences!

There are many good examples available. I’ve listed the ones I know, but there are probably many more. Please share your experiences by commenting to this blog post if you have used agile and Scrum outside software development. Let’s collaborate to learn from each other, and help people around the world to improve their way of working using agile and Scrum!

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Did you already know that I have been coaching Agile Teams in Engineering, Automotive and Electronics where I deal with very complex product development where Mechanics, Electronics, Software, Robotics and Pneumatics come together. I love to see it working in that Area Too. One of the things I recommend is also create a Team of Product Owners as there is need for more expertise. I always Try to Find someone from Marketing, Lead Engineers and Project Lead as projects in Mechatronics take in most of the cases 2 a 3 years to deliver end products.

    1. Thanks for your reply Douwe. Anything more that you can share on your experiences with the teams that you coached? Did you blog about this?

      I agree with you statement on product owner teams, at several occasions I also also coached teams of product managers or multidisciplinary teams of product owners, project managers and architects. Such teams are very effective, it’s a practice that I highly recommend!

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