More Agile Project Management with Scrum?

Why Scrum?

Scrum is currently the best-known agile project management method. Scrum originated in the software industry, but is now used in many other areas beyond software development. The name originally comes from the sport rugby, where it is short for ‘scrummage’, a point in the game that is all about agility, dynamism and communication. This is also what Scrum is about. The main principles at its centre are:

  • A step-by-step, incremental approach, whereby useful partial results are developed as quickly as possible instead of an overall result being finalised and presented much later.
  • Consistent orientation around the target group and customer instead of ensuring that the original plan is implemented as precisely as possible.
  • Self-organisation instead of central (project) management.

The Advantages of Scrum

As a project management method, Scrum has various advantages that are very welcome in the context of a process of Europeanisation. Here are a few examples:

  • You will develop into a more agile team or organisation, especially in order to be able to react appropriately and quickly to changing conditions, for example during the development of an EU-funded project or in the event of important developments in a target market abroad.
  • Personal responsibility within the team will be increased. Team members will decide themselves on the right way to achieve a goal.
  • You will develop into an organisation that is more oriented around its customers and target groups.
  • You will be able to implement projects successfully in a rapidly changing environment with Scrum.
  • You will minimise the risk of bad investments and wrong decisions. With Scrum, you are continuously evaluating your interim results, meaning that you can react at an early stage if something does not work as planned.

The Main Differences between Scrum and Traditional Waterfall Approaches to Project Management

Scrum Waterfall (e.g., PRINCE2)
The project is implemented gradually and iteratively. The project is implemented traditionally and in a linear manner.
The final product can still be changed. It is not completely clear what the end product will look like. The final product is very clearly defined. The entire project is planned in advance.
Certain phases occur several times. There are short work cycles (‘sprints’). Project requirements can change over time. The transition to the next phase means that the previous phase has been completed. Each phase of the project is only run through once.
Planning revolves around immediate, short-term goals, focussing on realisable added value and not the scope of the work. Implementation is based on a very precisely defined plan. The project requirements are defined at a very early stage of the work.
Testing is an integral part of every ‘sprint’. The test phase begins after the development work has been completed.
Documentation is not a priority. Precise documentation is created.
There is close cooperation with customers throughout the whole process. Customer contact occurs during the requirements gathering phase, when milestones are presented and when the finished product is handed over. During development, the team works without contact with the customer or target group.
Changes are expected and therefore require a flexible approach. Project changes must be agreed via official channels.

When Should You Implement Scrum?

Scrum can be used in any situation where the aim is to increase productivity and achieve better results, for example developing suitable solutions in close consultation with customers or target groups. The method offers a good starting point for systematically increasing a team or organisation’s agility. Agility, as used in upgrade2europe, means an organisation’s ability to react appropriately and flexibly to changes in external conditions. In this sense, agility is an essential prerequisite for the long-term success of an organisation, both nationally and in other European countries.

Useful Links and Further Information

We hope that this information will inspire you to take a closer look at the different approaches of various project management methods. If you would like to find out more about Scrum, we recommend the Scrum guide in the handbook INCLUDE. Inclusive leadership in the Digital Age. Handbook for Leaders and all who want to become one from page 238 onwards.

You can find more helpful articles and tips in this upgrade2europe learning tool, in our learning videos and in our upgrade2europe handbook. The handbook also contains an introduction to the project management method, which adds agile aspects to expand the waterfall approach. If you wish, you can use our self-analysis tool to find out immediately online to what extent your organisation is ready for Europe.