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Not another Scrum article please!

Those buzzwords again? 'Agile working method' and ‘Scrum’? No worries, this one is a practice-related article about Scrum and its key role in the daily business of the Allianz Global Digital Factory. 

What is Scrum and why does the Allianz Global Digital Factory use it?
 

Scrum is a working method used by many startups, but does it work in one of the biggest companies, too?

The word scrum might sound strange at first, but it is actually a word from the football industry.
Today, it is one of the most popular frameworks used in the agile project management and even offers an official guideline,  the Scrum guide (PDF download: 0,5mb).

Software engineers are not the only ones who can benefit from this guideline - every project that faces complex tasks can use this method.
But how does agile project management with Scrum work at the Allianz GDF?

To answer these questions, it is important to first understand every role in a Scrum context.
Scrum follows specific rules, which were defined in the agile manifest in 2001. 

Nota bene: It says that rigid timetables, insufficient communication, and a follow-the-plan mindset do not lead to successful projects. On the contrary, it claims that success can be reached by maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of teams, which is achieved by adapting to every change and focusing on working software and collaboration.

How does Scrum work?


Scrum determines three different roles, which can be adopted by one or more persons:

The Scrum team, the Scrum master and the product owner. 
Equally important are the stakeholders. Although they are not defined as an explicit role within this method, it is still crucial to success to designate them.
The traditional project manager is thus not needed anymore.

Scrum Team

  • team should consist 3 to 9 people
  • self-organized
  • every team has its own backlog (the product backlog is a list with all tasks regarding the project)
  • diversity with different experts in different topics

    At the GDF, different Scrum teams are working to improve several customer journeys. In order to celebrate the daily Scrum routines, it is important to have all members of the Scrum team in one place. That’s why it is also crucial for the GDF to collaborate with developers from the countries where the digital asset will be launched. The so-called developer exchange program also ensures that the way of working is spread across Allianz and helps to exchange knowledge to continue local maintenance with agile methodology once the product is live.

Product Owner

  • deals with all demands regarding the project
  • communicates with every stakeholder
  • collecting requests in a product backlog
  • responsible for adding, discarding and prioritizing requests


At the GDF, the challenge is to juggle the different requests of the stakeholders involved and find the best-fitting solution while always keeping the customers’ interest in mind. In order to prepare and maintain a consistent, thought-through product backlog that is necessary to build a globally scalable asset within Allianz worldwide, a product owner often needs to organize a team around him or her. The PO team should possess all necessary skills, from requirements engineer to integration business analysts and can be staffed on demand. For example, if there is a use case, which includes Search engine optimization, then a PO can involve a SEO expert for certain period of time to complete the feature.    

Scrum Master

  • ensures that every process works correctly and roles are being observed
  • is often an agile coach
  • moderates every Scrum meeting
  • protects the team from unwarranted interventions and is an impediments solver


    At the GDF, Scrum masters exchange on regular basis in order to spread cross Customer Journeys what has worked.
    Note: The Scrum master is not a project manager, because the teams are still organizing themselves and communicating directly with the product owner and his team.
The role of stakeholders is not defined in the Scrum method, but it still has a big impact on the processes. Stakeholders can be customers, intermediaries, employees, managers, or institutions, which are interested in seeing how the project succeeds.

Since the GDF builds globally scalable products, it is crucial for products success to regularly involve stakeholders from different operating entities.

The GDF works with T-shaped professionals, individuals that have a broad basic knowledge in several topics and a deep expertise in one field. Scrum is a working method, which is defined by knowledge sharing and competence interfaces. Everything is linked and needs a bottom-up organized and complementary structure.

The GDF has different apporaches to ensure knowledge and working methods sharing. 
Another example is  the Digital Asset Library which ensures to build solutions withing the Allianz consistently adheres to the motto "copy with pride."

 

Scrum is getting more and more popular. And that is not surprising. Its clear distribution of roles and its easy structure enables its principles to be adopted quickly and used efficiently.  

This agile project management working methods fits perfectly into the Allianz GDF. Due the fact that the GDF enables digitizing Allianz companies, it is important that it works quickly and precisely. In fact, the GDF has 8 different customer journey to take care of. For this reason, it is necessary to have a working method that is flexible and suitable, easy and iterative.
Additionally, it provides a good overview of the overall factory progress in delivering various use cases, enabling Allianz entities worldwide to bring a better value to their end-customers as well as expand their customers base.


At the same time, it provides an internal learning platform, where knowledge is the most valuable asset. Due it's points of intersection on the one hand and all insights which the GDF gets on the other hand, Scrum also promotes the progress of improvement of it's own working method to become the perfect solution for the factory. Read here an article from our Head of Development, Des Field Corbett, about how we approach Scrum at the GDF to make working at the Factory not like working at a factory.

Curious about more working methods? Check out our UX Lab article to find out how the GDF builds user centric solutions. Or you follow #AllianzGDF at LinkedIn to never miss any update again.

 

Stay tuned!