Running Your Business Like a Successful Software Project

September 17, 2015

10:00 pm

Software development was once considered a long and tedious task. But agile methodologies such as Scrum changed the way that software development teams work, making the process more efficient, transparent, and collaborative.

There are agile approaches to business that can produce the same benefits Scrum does for software development. These approaches improve business development, task management, and even workplace collaboration to streamline workflows and reach organizational goals with more ease. Scrum also allows for continuous feedback from the market. The most successful teams meet daily, weekly, and monthly to make the necessary adjustments to keep their projects on track.

Because the success of a business is measured by results, why not use a system that is proven to improve those results? Here are three effective practices that can help you fine tune your entire business.

Planning and Prioritizing

Creating a successful Scrum framework requires a prioritized list of important tasks. Streamlining planning by identifying the top priorities that need to be completed helps keep teams focused on the right things and executing faster and better together. This same methodology should be used to grow and run your business.

In the same way that Scrum encourages teams to create prioritized lists or ‘sprints’ for individual projects, businesses can create quarterly plans that ensure success in reaching long-term goals. A quarterly plan should be made up of a focused set of attainable priorities. These priorities should be in line with the company’s core vision, which can help you raise the bar not just on employee performance, but also in what type of employees you hire, client interaction and engagement, streamlining internal processes and reaching your overall goals.  Employees are aware of what to focus on and in which order to complete them in order to reach their goals at the end of the quarter.

These days your business needs to be as agile as ever. In a 24/7 global economy, there is always somebody somewhere trying to compete with your business. You need to be able to respond to rapid changes efficiently now more than ever before. Software development addressed this issue a few years ago with the Agile Manifesto that diverted paths from the traditional Waterfall development method that couldn’t keep up with rapid changes in various industries.

Similarly, management must be flexible and make adjustments to its overall business plan when and wherever necessary. As a business runs, it is a very real possibility that action plans might go off-track; there needs to be a system in place to remedy any and all potential mishaps or changes in the industry.

Daily Huddle

Collaboration is absolutely essential for team success no matter what industry you’re working in. Holding quick daily meetings ensures that teams are communicating effectively and on track to reach goals. This is called a ‘stand-up’ in Scrum, and having attendees standing for the entire meeting helps keep it short, efficient and to the point.

In the business world, you might think of this more like a ‘daily huddle’. Instead of holding a time-consuming status meeting, think of how you can make your daily huddles more efficient by discussing adjustments needed to your business execution plans to achieve success. Huddles should last between 5-15 minutes, and each team member should share a victory, a priority and a challenge or issue for that day.  This simple daily meeting will save you hundreds of email messages.

By taking all of your requirements and expressing them in the form of user stories that are clearly defined, employees will know exactly what tasks needs to be done, with little room for interpretation. These tasks are then measured by key performance indicators (KPIs) – metrics that are used to measure the success or performance of a business, most commonly used to measure sales, cash and products. These KPIs will help managers know if an employee needs help with an action item or task that’s getting off-track.

Review and Retrospective

One crucial component to Scrum’s methodology is to end each project or sprint with a retrospective review. What worked? What didn’t work? What changes can be made so that the next sprint is even more successful than the last? This same concept is critical for any organization looking to continuously grow and thrive.

By taking the time to review the ups, downs, complications and successes of each task and priority, teams are able to make better adjustments for the next ‘sprint’ or quarter so you can perform better and achieve goals the next time around. This retrospective is a key element to effective quarterly planning.

Software developers around the world have seen great success using Scrum’s agile framework for completing complex projects – so why can’t these same principles apply to owning and operating a business? By keeping these tips in mind, business leaders and teams can not only successfully coordinate to complete tasks, they can also work to improve and grow the organization as a whole.

Image credit: Ingimage, cropped and resized.

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Patrick Thean is the co-founder and CEO of Rhythm Systems. A serial entrepreneur and bestselling author, Patrick is a thought leader in strategic business execution. Patrick’s book, Rhythm: How To Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth, reached a No. 3 rating on Amazon’s Kindle best seller list and No. 35 on hardcover. Prior to Rhythm Systems, Patrick started and exited multiple companies.

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