Agile Experience: Implementing Scrum in a Service Team

The Scrum Guide says that Scrum can be used, and I quote, "to develop software, hardware, embedded software, networks of interacting function, autonomous vehicles, schools, government, marketing, managing the operation of organizations and almost everything we use in our daily lives as individuals and societies." I say it can also be implemented for services.

This is my experience.

The beginning

Everything started when the office facility team leader expressed her curiosity about something that someone told her about called Agile. So, I told her we needed to talk. We had a long chat in which I explained to her the general highlights of Agile and Scrum. After that initial talk, we decided to have a meeting with the rest of the team members to provide more details about the Agile philosophy and Scrum framework.

In our first introduction meeting, I was able to better explain the Agile principles, the Scrum values and the roles involved. At some point during the meeting, we all felt so comfortable with it all that we could all agree that this was a great opportunity to implement the framework in the team.

The office facility team is in charge of ensuring that our workplace is of the best possible quality and optimal functionality. They take care of modifications, updates and the maintenance of the office, and they receive plenty of requests by almost every employee in the company. All requests are collected, analyzed and executed under the team’s supervision. Some of them are executed by third-party vendors. Many of them are urgent and require quick action. Others require study and planning.

Into the First Sprint

We had a kick-off meeting in which we created our first draft of the Product Backlog and agreed to start with 1-week-long sprints.

The team was very motivated to implement Scrum in their daily work, which until that time was sort of messy and disorganized. Still, we focused on the first sprint.

We held different sessions during that first week. There were plenty of questions. We talked a lot through each of those concerns, shedding light on all the topics that arose regarding the ceremonies, artifacts and roles of Scrum. There was too much to share and comment on. Everyone was very excited. And their work kept coming and coming.
It was a hard week for them, but they managed to both learn the implementation and get their daily work done.

In subsequent sprints, we kept adjusting the Scrum implementation. We shared knowledge about the framework and talked about every positive and negative experience we were having so we could agree as a team what to do about each one.

Before and After

While I was with the team, I was learning their ways of working; their dynamic. And after several sprints of applying Agile methodology, I began to see some benefits.

Before Scrum, they used to say yes to every request from outside the team and accept any deadline. This meant they were always tackling several things at the same time, resulting in delaying some and being late on others. Today, they know that by using Scrum, they can collect all requests, place them in a backlog, prioritize them and finish them within a sprint, or iteration by iteration.

They also learned to set up a specific communication channel for all stakeholder requests. And the Product Owner role is carried out by the team leader, who is in charge of collecting those requests. Before, everyone talked about everything and no one was writing any of it down.

Now the team knows about the benefits of transparency and communication, not only within the team, but with those outside the team. They are glad to have the Retrospective meetings to inspect what was done in every sprint, and they love to take action on the conclusions.

Final Thought

After several sprints, the team is getting better at implementing Scrum. They are improving their way of working and communicating with each other.

Every day, they become more aware of the essence of Agile. They are feeling in the flesh the experience of implementing Scrum.

They struggle with it, but they love it. They feel really at ease with it now, as if they had been doing it all along.

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