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TMC: embracing different Project Management styles

‘There’s something of a revolution going on,’ says TMC Employeneur and Project Leader at Bugaboo, Teun Rijke. ‘It’s a very popular method right now.’ Teun is talking about a different approach to project management called SCRUM. Teun is something of a SCRUM master: in challenging, yet informal workshops, he shows how SCRUM can lead to a more efficient production process. Last week, he held a workshop for 25 TMC Employeneurs.


‘SCRUM was developed in the nineties,’ says Teun. ‘At the time, professionals in software development realised that traditional approaches to project management weren’t particularly effective in the relatively new field. Software developers didn’t have a very specific idea about what the customer needed, partly because the customer often didn’t know either. As a result, developers began to look for different management styles, different ways of getting the customer on board. Of these new methods, SCRUM turned out to be the most effective.’


Involving the customer closely, from the early stages of the production process, is one of SCRUM’s cornerstones. Teun explains: ‘In more traditional methods of project management, the schedule for a project is created by one leader who oversees the project from above. The idea of SCRUM is to get the whole team and the customer in a room, and then create a schedule and a list of requirements together. The project is owned by the whole team.’


The project is divided into four-week cycles, called ‘sprints’. After each sprint, the customer and the developers get together to discuss results and possible adjustments. ‘There are obvious advantages to this method,’ Teun says. 'The first one is that questions can be answered quicker. Immediately, that is. There is no delay. Problems or potential future problems can be tackled on the spot – or at the very latest, solved during the next SCRUM session.’


The second advantage to SCRUM is that questions can be answered better. Every SCRUM session is a meeting between people working in every stage of the production process. This leads to more elaborate answers, where every viewpoint is taken into account.


And there’s a third advantage too. ‘Every sprint ends with a demonstration. The product, or the prototype, is shown to the customer and the stakeholders, who in turn share their experiences with the developers. This is a great opportunity to see, firsthand, how users feel about and interact with the product. With these frequent demonstrations, SCRUM helps to meet the customer’s expectations much more closely than most traditional methods, whereby the product is developed over a six month-period and is demonstrated only at the end of the process.’


In his workshops, Teun first explains the general principles behind SCRUM, then asks the participants to apply the principles in practical exercises. ‘Last week in Eindhoven, I asked TMC Employeneurs to set up a quick SCRUM meeting for a specific product. Then, I asked them to discuss the requirements for a succesfull production process. One participant was asked to put himself into the role of the customer, another took up the role of the designer, and someone else that of the product tester.’


The Employeneurs were both enthusiastic and sharp-minded. Teun says: ‘A lot of interesting questions were asked, and afterwards some of the participants shared their own experiences with the method.’


The response was so positive that another workshop was planned right away: it will take place at TMC, in the second quarter of the year. The exact date will be announced shortly.


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