05 Jun 3 ways to make Scrum more customer-centric for eCommerce
by Kim Georgeton
We hear terms like Agile and Scrum tossed around quite a bit in the technology world. Even companies not affiliated with software development are drawn to the collaborative, cross-functional allure of the Agile approach to project management.
Based on a Harvard Business Review survey, almost half of organizations (44 percent) surveyed reported using Agile methodology within the development team. And when used properly, most organizations discover Agile methodology keeps projects on track. But as common as this project management term is among teams, it’s often adapted to best fit the work culture of the organization. And that’s fine as long as everybody understands that.
As part of the digital sales and marketing team, our approach to a new eCommerce project starts with understanding how a new customer defines the Agile method to ensure both parties know what to expect throughout the process. It’s not our goal to change a company’s project management style. However, it helps to know how the project management and change management teams intend to navigate the process and how that methodology defines your role.
Agile vs. Scrum
It’s common to hear Agile and Scrum used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand that there is a distinct difference between them. Agile is a set of methods and practices. In this methodology, development and testing activities are concurrent. It means your project team is focused on the processes by breaking them down into smaller builds or steps where you integrate all or part of your application.
Scrum is the framework used to implement those practices. Its purpose is to finish the project quickly through teamwork and by starting with well-defined goals. This approach anticipates changes in requirements and also accommodates adjustments in other requirements that weren’t known at an earlier stage of the project. It’s an approach that I feel is more customer-centric than a traditional Agile method that focuses more on the project.
What we typically face in digital eCommerce sales is the need not to merely monitor the status of a project but to ensure it advances to the next phase and has everybody on board with the most current information. Therefore our project management strategies work around a hybrid Scrum process rather than the more rigid Agile method, and here are three reasons why:
Since the eCommerce space often includes complex projects, a Scrum approach allows room to introduce the project’s timeline, but it also accommodates input for a better plan should more information come available. It’s not uncommon for a stakeholder to voice new concerns or offer input that impacts the progress or direction of a project. With this method, we can ensure our customers feel comfortable offering feedback while our team still stays on schedule.
An important principle in Scrum is the idea of transparency. All team members involved should be aware of what everyone else is working on, progress being made, and what the team is trying to accomplish. Much like when Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so is the incentive behind transparency. When we anticipate the potential concerns or general questions a customer may have about the scope of a project, we can discuss those points while presenting the full design upfront. By getting upfront approval from stakeholders, we can reduce the risk of duplicating work and save significant costs for the customer.
I believe one of the biggest strengths we bring to a digital sales project is our expertise. Normally, the Agile approach to handling tasks is to assign a developer to sort through the variety of different tasks located in one space.
Our approach is to take a team of developers, who each have their respective expertise, and divide up tasks based on those areas. This strategy saves time, money, and ensures the customer is getting the most accurate solutions. It’s easy to step away from the potential restrictions of the traditional Agile or Scrum methodologies when it results in a more efficient process that places the customer’s best interests at the forefront.
Agile methodology remains the preeminent approach to project management and software development at Salesforce. And experts at Infosys, who recently acquired Simplus, agree with this approach. “In this era of competitions and innovations in the world of software development, there is a continuous pressure of delivering high-quality solutions/products which can be deployed speedily, are of low cost and flexible to absorb the dynamic needs of the end user fraternity.”
But when it comes to developing solutions for a customer’s digital space, our biggest success comes from ensuring we understand and accommodate the customer’s expectations, methodology, and vision of the end result. By incorporating flexibility, transparency, and instituting our team’s expertise at pivotal parts of the project, we have designed a strategy that includes the strongest points of Agile and Scrum methodologies to make sure our priority is focused not just on the project but on the needs of the customer.
Kim is Simplus’ Managing Director of Commerce and Marketing Cloud. She leads a team of 24 architects, developers, designers, administrators, and specialists on all things Commerce and Marketing Cloud. She has over 20 years of experience working in retail eCommerce, marketing, and merchandising. Kim is an expert on digitally scaling businesses of all sizes and industries.