Agile Toolkit: A Free Tool To Help Scrum Masters Manage Sprints

Veteran and novice Scrum Masters, alike, can struggle with finding a practical tool to help manage their Sprints on a weekly basis.

Our free Agile Toolkit is an easy-to-use and highly functional Excel sheet that allows Scrum Masters to manage their Sprint more effectively. This tool handles tracks Team capacity, velocity, Yesterday’s Weather, Interrupt Buffers, and more! It also generates charts for a team’s velocity over time and individual Sprint burndowns.

Regardless if you are starting from Sprint zero or need a new solution for your established team, this tool will be a great fit!

To grab the tool and get started, head over HERE to sign up. You’ll also get access to a video demonstration and tutorial to help get you started!

Why is the Agile Toolkit so useful?

Don’t forget that while the Product Owner is responsible for WHAT the team does the Scrum Master is focused on HOW the work is getting done and a big part of the ‘How’ revolves around the Sprint itself.

Fortunately, the Agile Toolkit handles a LOT of Sprint-related tasks!

Before the team can even start Sprint Planning, the Scrum Master is responsible for gathering team capacity, calculating Yesterday’s Weather and the Interrupt Buffer, and letting the Product Owner know how many points they can accept into the upcoming Sprint.

Once the Sprint starts, the Scrum should also be constantly updating the Sprint Burndown to ensure that work in progress is being completed in a timely fashion and helping the team decide how to handle any interrupts.

After the Sprint is complete, the Scrum Master will get to work updating the team’s velocity, gathering data on the team’s happiness, and preparing to lead the Sprint Retrospective.

So go ahead and download the toolkit and get started HERE!

Scrum@Scale: An Overview of the Framework

These days, most people know and understand Scrum as a framework that helps people, teams, and organizations generate increasing value over time by creating an environment that allows them to work on the right thing in the right away.

At the individual team level, Scrum has demonstrated time and time again that it can help produce twice the work in half the time.

While seeing these results at the micro-level is exciting, scaling these results across an entire large organization is a truly spectacular event that can be produced by introducing Scrum@Scale.

What is Scrum@Scale?

If the individual Scrum team is a chapter then Scrum@Scale is the book.

Describing Scrum@Scale as simply deploying Scrum at the organizational level – replacing traditional departments and business units with Scrum teams – would be a disservice to what is ultimately a transformational catalyst that unlocks the full potential of a company’s collaboration and productivity.

Scrum@Scale allows the hyper-productive, results-driven performance of an individual Scrum team to scale across an entire organization to coordinate around and solve complicated problems at the Enterprise level.

Yes, Scrum@Scale creates more Scrum teams within an organization. But, it also:

  • Addresses complex adaptive problems within the organization
  • Delivers products more creatively
  • Can be applied across a myriad of industries including services, software, hardware, operations, and research

Who uses Scrum@Scale?

Although Scrum and other Agile methodologies have their roots within the software and IT communities, there are a staggering number of businesses using Scrum and Scrum@Scale to become more successful over time.

In fact, there are many case studies available that show exactly how effective Scrum@Scale can be within organizations.

Manufacturing and engineering: Bosch

Bosch, a giant multinational conglomerate of 390,000 employees, found initial success when they implemented Scrum within certain silos of the organization.

Recognizing the powerful results, they decided to implement a company-wide Agile transformation from the top down using the Scrum@Scale framework. Rather than silos, the company was divided into business units composed of cross-functional teams that were each capable of creating innovative new products and services.

The results?

Bosch cut its development time in half, allowing them to innovate faster and bring new products to market in record time.

Full case study here.

Insurance Industry: Insure-Tech

Insure-tech, an established company centered around finding ways to create more savings and efficiency within the current insurance industry recently found themselves surrounded by a wide variety of new, small, and aggressive companies attacking their market share.

By implementing Scrum@Scale, Insure-tech was able to improve customer satisfaction by 37%, increase dev team overall happiness by 34%, and reduce the number of product defects by 15%.

All within two months.

Full case study here.

Scrum@Scale training

While creating a Scrum team within an organization requires training at the individual level – Scrum Team Members, Scrum Masters, and Product Owners, Scrum@Scale requires implementing changes at the organizational level.

By creating an intentional Agile transformation, Scrum@Scale positions a company to provide more autonomy to highly-engaged, empowered teams.

What’s the best way to get started with this transformation?

Scrum@Scale Foundations

The Foundations class is an interactive workshop that provides professionals at any level of Scrum proficiency the lean principles and core concepts of scaling Scrum within an organization.

Whether your business has already implemented Scrum in some way or not, the Scrum@Scale Foundations class is the perfect way to provide basic training to an entire organization, at a low cost, before taking the next step of the Agile transformation.

You will understand:

  • That traditional ways of working in silos slow us down and make it hard to efficiently build our business and serve our customers. They make a paradigm shift in their view of efficiency and understand this is really about effectiveness.
  • How Scrum@Scale can impact their organization. They are able to identify and understand the main components of the Scrum@Scale framework, including the scaled roles and events.
  • That becoming a Scrum@Scale Practitioner and obtaining further, robust experience with Scrum@Scale will help their organization remain sustainable.

Sigao Studios is currently offering Scrum@Scale Foundations virtual classes which you can learn more about here.

Scrum@Scale Practitioner

The Practitioner course is designed to equip people within an organization, from team members to executives, with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement Scrum at the any-size level.

Class material covers the responsibilities of the Product Owner, Scrum Master, Scrum Team, and enterprise leadership in a variety of contexts and business situations.

You will learn how to:

  • Understand how restructuring an organization around scaled Scrum can create an incredible impact on performance.
  • Break down cross-team dependencies and create the ability to prioritize work across multiple teams towards company-wide initiatives.
  • Observe, analyze, and improve key metrics of Enterprise agility.
  • Create a transformation roadmap for your organization that includes a backlog of critical activities.

Note: It is recommended that Scrum@Scale Practitioner attendees have prior experience with Scrum including Scrum Master and Product Owner coursework or comparable real-world application.

Sigao Studios is currently offering Scrum@Scale Practitioner virtual classes which you can learn more about here.

Taking Action

Now that you understand what Scrum@Scale is and how it can benefit you and your organization it is time to act and start the transformation.

Allow Scrum@Scale to create the change you want to see within your business and let us use our real-world business and classroom experience to show you how.

Scrum Guide Changes in 2020 (What’s New?)

On November 18th, the 2020 updates to the Scrum Guide were released by Jeff Sutherland of Scrum Inc. and Ken Schwaber of that include changes to the way Scrum is defined and implemented, so we would like to provide a rundown of these changes and how it might impact your Scrum Team.

The 2020 Scrum Guide has been updated with simplified language to be less prescriptive and more focused on self-managed, unified teams. There is a new Sprint Planning topic, “Why,” and the three artifacts all received new commitments (Product Goal for the Product Backlog, Sprint Goal for the Sprint Backlog, and Definition of Done for the Increment).

Although the language and implementation have been streamlined and simplified, there are still many changes that active Scrum Teams will need to understand to update their own processes. Let’s go over the changes.

What changed in the 2020 Scrum Guide

While significant, it is important to understand that the changes to the Scrum Guide in 2020 do not deviate from the core principles of Scrum.

Rather, these changes are meant to standardize certain trends within the Scrum community, build upon Scrum’s rampant success within organizations, and make it more approachable for businesses that sit outside the IT-related fields that Scrum has historically dominated.

If we had to pick an overarching theme for the 2020 Scrum Guide update, it would be simplicity. More simplified language, more clarity around purpose, and fewer obstacles in the way of implementation.

Let’s check out the main changes to the Scrum Guide in 2020.

Less prescriptive than before

Scrum has always been a methodology rather than a structured system.

In fact, that’s part of the beauty of Scrum – it is an outline for a process that any business can use to both make better decisions about what they are working on and constantly improve how they are doing it.

Unfortunately, it has seemed in recent years that Scrum has gotten more prescriptive rather than less so.

With this update, however, Scrum is dialing back specific instruction in favor of providing a minimally sufficient framework that can be more easily adapted to fit the needs of new and different businesses.

Here are the most notable changes in this area:

  • Removed Daily Scrum questions
  • PBI attributes are handled more loosely
  • Retro items in the Sprint Backlog are handled more loosely
  • Fewer rules around Sprint cancellation

Resetting the team mindset – one team, one product

Scrum has always focused on empowered, self-organizing Scrum Teams to produce the best work possible.

Sometimes, however, the goals of the Product Owner and Developers can diverge and create a division within the Scrum Team. This ‘us vs. them’ mentality prevents the team from working on the right thing and causes them to do poorer work at the same time.

The 2020 Scrum Guide realigns the team’s effort around a new concept – the Product Goal – to help mitigate the divisiveness between the PO, SM, and Developers.

The new Product Goal

The best way to allow a team to focus on the same goal is to push it out far enough that everyone can see it.

With the introduction of the Product Goal, the entire Scrum Team can focus on a large, valuable objective in the distance and the primary mission of each Sprint becomes bringing the product one step closer to the Product Goal.

The benefit of this approach is that it shifts the focus away from the smaller details of a project and forces alignment around a larger vision.

The new Artifact commitments

Over the years, many terms and ideas central to the Scrum framework have been implemented despite the fact that they haven’t been formally defined.

Two examples of this are the Sprint Goal and the Definition of Done.

Although the Sprint Goal and Definition of Done are not new, the Scrum Guide has been updated to give them, along with the new Product Goal, a stronger identity within the Scrum framework by transforming them into commitments for the three artifacts.

Here is how they match up with the artifacts:

  • Product Backlog – Product Goal
  • Sprint Backlog – Sprint Goal
  • Increment – Definition of Done

By linking these ideas together more tightly, they provide more transparency and focus toward each artifact’s progress.

Self-managing vs. self-organizing

Scrum has always relied on the value that self-organized and empowered teams can provide to an organization.

In fact, it’s been demonstrated time and time again that teams perform better when they can choose who is doing the work and the best way to get it done.

With the 2020 update, the Scrum Guide takes self-organized teams a step further but allowing them to choose what to work on as well. This creates a team that not only organizes itself but also manages itself.

It also specifically changes the term ‘Development Team’ with simply ‘Developers’ to help eliminate this ‘team within a team’ phenomenon.

Another big note in the area of teams involves the Scrum Master.

While the 2017 Scrum Guide never mentioned accountability for the Scrum Master, the 2020 guide mentions it twice:

  • The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide
  • The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness.

The message is clear here – the Scrum Master is in service to the organization as a whole and they must manage both up and down as ‘true leaders who serve’ rather than ‘servant leaders’ in their role.

In action, a self-managing team should be able to autocorrect itself and make constant improvements to what they work on, how they do it, and who is involved.

Introducing a new Sprint Planning topic

Sprint Planning has always included the “What” and “How” topics to determine the work that will be done within the Sprint.

In the 2020 update, emphasis is placed on a third topic, “Why,” which refers back to the Sprint Goal and reminds the team that they should always be asking themselves how the current Sprint will create progress on their overall Product Goal.

Along with the idea of self-managed teams, the new Sprint Planning topic reinforces the concept of doing the ‘right’ work.

Allowing Scrum to reach a wider audience

The 2017 Scrum Guide still contained many references to the IT-related fields that were crucial to the creation of Scrum, as well as a few redundant or complex statements that made the framework less approachable for some businesses.

With the 2020 update, the Scrum Guide has removed the redundant language and simplified the message of the Scrum framework so that it is easier to understand and implement within a wider audience. In fact, it’s about 30% shorter than the previous version and provides clearer and more actionable information for readers.

By changing up the tone and context of the Scrum framework, more and different businesses will be able to take advantage of a methodology that has proven to get twice the work done in half the time.

How is Sigao Studios handling these changes?

At Sigao, we’ve trained hundreds of students over the years on how to practice “good Scrum” and avoid “bad Scrum” using the principles and framework included within the Scrum Guide. We’ve also consulted with and worked alongside dozens of companies that depend on us to improve their business through Agile transformation and Scrum implementation.

With the 2020 Scrum Guide update, nothing changes – we will always provide the most up-to-date and relevant information for all of our clients and students.

Remember that Scrum is all about pivoting to adapt to the changing landscape, and these updates are just that – a pivot.

We look forward to bringing these changes into the real world so that we can test their effectiveness, continue to improve, and show everyone the value of Scrum.