“Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value” - scrum.org
At Spring Automation, we focus on delivering quality systems in a timely manner. Our ability to keep a consistent level of execution is via a system called SCRUM. While many companies use SCRUM to complete software projects, we use it as an engineering management tool for controls. Projects are broken down into bite-sized tasks, those tasks are added to sprints, and those sprints are completed on a weekly basis. The SCRUM master is the key holder to all this information and, along with an Engineering Lead’s help, plans the next sprint weekly.
What’s unique about a SCRUM system is that instead of (1) engineer taking on all the tasks for a given project, every member of the team can work on any task added to the sprint that is within their skill level. Additionally, productivity is increased because is it very clear what tasks are available to be worked on. The engineer’s question of what they need to work on next is eliminated. This is very important to the Spring culture as our engineers enjoy both flex time in office and remote working when on a job site.
A sprint is all the work that needs to be completed during a 1-week period. The SCRUM master calculates the availability of every team member and plans out how many hours can be completed in each sprint. This availability is reviewed and adjusted on a weekly basis. Based on the project milestones communicated by our PMs, the SCRUM master will add tasks to the board based on what is vital to project execution. The goal is to complete all tasks by the end of the week. When all tasks are met then all milestones and deliverables will be complete
Let’s say we receive a project has 300 hundred specific tasks. From designing the layout to creating the HMI screens, each task is written down and given a number. The number assigned to a task reflects an estimate for the number of hours that the task should require. This number is based on historical data from past scrum cards, as well as our Engineering Lead’s expertise. So, based on the availability of the team and the number of hours available to be complete, the SCRUM master adds the necessary tasks to the Sprint.
All these tasks are available on a virtual whiteboard on virtual post-it notes. When an engineer wants to work on a task, they simply take that “post-it” and complete it. The virtual whiteboard is great because the Engineering Lead can see what every team member is working on at any given time. Once a given task is completed, it then gets verified by another team member. If the verification reveals an error, the task is put back on the whiteboard to be reworked. If the verification reveals the task is complete, it is taken off the whiteboard and the engineer can grab another task.
Having such a detailed ability to plan and track each task is helpful for a couple of reasons. The first reason is the Operational Team can see in real time what tasks are complete, what tasks are behind, and how much of the project is left to complete. We have also been able to integrate our templates and procedures into each task, allowing for quicker training and better standardization. Another great benefit is this allows the Sales and Estimating Team to gather great feedback on hour estimates for new projects based on true and accessible historical data. All in all, SCRUM has become a vital tool for Spring Automation and has given us a crystal-clear view of the life of every project. It has made us a more efficient and productive team, and perhaps it could do the same for yours. I encourage you to do some more research into the SCRUM methodology and see if it can be helpful to your team.