Last week, I shared about why I believe you should read academic articles and essays to inform your thinking on projects and share them with those you work with in your library and about how Monica and I are starting a library inventory project with staff that is guided by Agile Project Management methodologies.

Today, I’m sharing more about that project, specifically how we plan to use Scrum and Kanban Agile Project management strategies with our student workers who will be conducting the inventory.

Project Management & Library Inventory using a Kanban Board

Since Monica and I started writing together, we have used a Kanban board to track progress of our writing, presenting, and work projects. Kanban boards are considered to be a tool that is a subset of Agile Project Management.

Kanban boards

visually depict work at various stages of a process using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each stage of the process. Cards are moved from left to right to show progress and to help coordinate teams performing the work. A Kanban board may be divided into horizontal “swimlanes” representing different kinds of work or different teams performing the work.

Our Kanban board gives us visual cues about what hasn’t been started (backlog), what we are working on at the moment (works in progress), and what we have completed (done). We move sticky notes from one column to the next until the project is complete. At one point, we had to clean the board’s “Done” column (remove the post-it notes) because we had completed so many projects there was no more room for more Post-Its!

Kanban Board in Monica’s Office

Using this Kanban board has enabled us to communicate with each other much more effectively and efficiently.

A few basics about Scrum Project Management…

Scrum project management utilizes three basic roles: Product owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum Team.

Product Owner

The vision for the software to be built is communicated by the Product Owner. Product Owner not only focuses on the work to be completed but also focuses on business and market requirements. The PO interacts with the team as well as other stakeholders to build and manage the backlog. The role of a PO is to motivate the team to align them with the goal and vision of the project.

Scrum Master

Scrum Master is responsible for organizing meetings, dealing with challenges and bottlenecks. The Scrum Master interacts with Product Owner to ensure that the product backlog is ready for the next sprint. He or she is also responsible to ensure that the team follows the Scrum process.

Scrum Team

The Scrum Team can be comprised of 5 to 7 members. In a Scrum team, there are no distinct roles as a programmer, designer or tester rather everyone has a set of tasks that they complete together. The Scrum Team plans the amount of work they can complete in each iteration.

Scrum Project Management follows this workflow:

Product backlog

The product backlog comprises a list of all the desired features of the product. The Product Owner and Scrum Master prioritize the items on the basis of user stories and requirements. The development team refers to the product backlog to complete the task during each sprint.

Sprint planning

In the sprint planning meeting, the Product Owner provides a list of high priority items on the backlog. The team chooses the task they can complete during the sprint and transfer the tasks from product backlog to the sprint backlog.

Backlog refinement

The team and Product Owner meet at the end of each sprint to prepare the backlog for the next sprint. The team splits the user stories into a smaller chunk of tasks and removes any user stories that are irrelevant. The team also accesses the priority of stories to reprioritize tasks.

Daily Scrum

A 15-minute stand-up meeting known as Daily Scrum is conducted daily. The team member discusses the goals and issues related to the development. The Daily Scrum is held every day during the sprint to keep the team on track.

Sprint review meeting

A live demonstration is given at the end of each sprint to showcase the work the team has completed during the sprint in the sprint review meeting.

Sprint retrospective meeting

This meeting is held to reflect on the success of the Scrum process and is there any changes required to be made in the next sprint. The team discusses the highs and lows of the earlier sprint and all the improvements for the next sprint.

Setting up the Scrum Team for the Inventory Project

Our Scrum Team will consist of 10 student workers to perform the inventory, a library assistant is serving as Scrum Master and will manage the project, and Monica and I will oversee the project as Product Owners.

The daily progress of the Scrum team will be tracked using a Kanban board and we will communicate with one another on a daily basis using a Library Inventory channel in Slack.

Using Scrum for the book inventory project will keep the student workers engaged throughout the project because it

  1. Gives student workers a greater sense of autonomy: The student workers can self-select the stack of books they want to scan
  2. Fosters open communication through daily feedback between student workers and their supervisor in-person and via Slack, and;
  3. Encourages a constant pace throughout the project.

Furthermore, we believe that by guiding students’ work on this inventory project with a methodologies generally used in business, in this case Scrum (a subset of Agile Project Management), our student workers will gain valuable skills to add to their resumes.

Let’s talk about you and your library…

  • Have you used Agile Project Management for library projects before?
  • What upcoming projects could use Agile Project management methodologies?
  • What project management techniques do you find most helpful to complete a project?

Let us know in the comments!