Digital transformation is reshaping the world of work. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to data analytics, to the cloud, mobility and artificial intelligence (AI), disruptive technologies are enabling organizations to fundamentally change how they operate and deliver value to customers.
But as global competition increases, so do demands for faster turnarounds, user-friendly platforms and flexible goals. Enter Scrum. Once the domain of software developers, today Scrum has evolved beyond the IT department. Now organizations across healthcare, education, manufacturing and many other industries are embracing Agile—with impressive results to match.
According to a Forbes Insights survey, organizations that succeed at achieving greater agility reap plentiful rewards. Among these are faster time to market (reported by 60% of respondents), quicker innovation (59%), improved non-financial results such as customer experience and product quality (58%), and heightened employee morale (57%).
To discover how Scrum can support digital transformation across verticals, we spoke with John Miller, Agile For All, Certified Enterprise Coach, and agile coach to Scrum Alliance. Miller illustrates how three key verticals are using Scrum to adapt in today’s challenging digital landscape.
Healthcare: Keeping agile alive and well
According to Miller, healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting new and innovative technologies like web-based applications. From clinical communication platforms to health monitoring tools, web applications can help improve patient care and drive greater business efficiencies.
But developing applications for the healthcare sector can be challenging, if not impossible, when using waterfall methodologies, Miller says. Projects assigned to only one person can take months to complete. Moreover, siloed operations can prevent experts in data privacy and security from sharing specialized knowledge. The results are poor skills coverage, multiple points of failure and low employee morale.
Fortunately, Scrum can empower teams to divide the work as they see fit, while encouraging greater collaboration and providing increased visibility into a project’s progress. The benefits are far-reaching, including reduced time to deliver new features, improved skills coverage across the Scrum Team, and higher-quality products, since post-sprint reviews allow any defects to be identified earlier on in the process.
Education: Getting the attention of agile and Scrum principles
Even traditional educational institutions now face mounting competition. Charter schools have multiplied, and distance learning has increased dramatically in popularity. That’s one of the reasons that Miller is pioneering Agile in schools to help teachers and students thrive.
So how can Scrum be applied to the classroom? Grandview Preparatory School, a private K-12 school in Florida, enlisted Miller’s expertise to discover new ways of supporting student-centered learning and deeper engagement.
To implement agile principles and practices in the classroom, Grandview began using whiteboards or large sheets of paper to break down weekly tasks into columns labeled Doing or Learning, Blocked and Done. Next, teachers provided learning goals and had students visualize how they would achieve them, using the board and tracking their progress with sticky notes.
To keep students accountable, Learning Canvases, also known as Scrum boards, were displayed on the wall for students to view, interact with and comment on. The teachers immediately saw greater collaboration, communication and transparency among students and staff. In fact, a 2017 Grandview survey of 16 teachers revealed that all but one had started using Learning Canvases in the classroom.
“[Through agile], students are learning to direct their own learning in a collaborative way,” says Miller. “Students are not only learning content, but they’re actually learning how to adapt and how to truly work together, which is going to make them future-ready.”
Marketing: Campaigning for better results
With its treasure troves of consumer data, Miller says, the marketing industry is the perfect match for Scrum principles. “If you think about marketing, it’s a data-rich focus, which means it’s all about learning,” he says. “And Scrum, at its heart, is a learning framework. It’s not just about getting work done faster. It’s really about, ‘How do we learn as fast as possible, whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing? And then how do we adapt based on that?’”
For example, by relying on Scrum’s iterative processes, a marketing department can validate and test hypotheses to determine why customers really want a particular product, and how a series of more targeted messages might increase revenue.
A solution for disruption across verticals
Thanks to disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile apps, the barriers to entry to almost any sector are quickly vanishing. But while it’s easier for organizations to get up and running in the digital age, getting the right products and services out the door is harder than ever. Scrum can increase the likelihood of success by enabling all industries to encourage collaboration, address complex situations quickly and adapt to changing market trends.