Blue Flash Mobility Concepts is an organisation based at the University of Hildesheim / Holzminden / Göttingen, whose members prepare for the annual international design competition "Formula Student" in an optional course. The teams competing in the competition are tasked with building racing cars and developing a business plan to launch a car-based business. The cars will also be judged on their speed and a range of other mechanical parameters. How did the Formula student team cross the finish line using Scrum and Kanban?
As the management team changed from year to year, the Blue Flash team was characterised by a highly hierarchical and rapidly changing organisational structure. Communication and collaboration within the organisation was made extremely difficult by the fact that the team of 35 people was made up of a number of smaller units of 1-4 people. Several of the smaller teams worked alone, in isolation from the others, and the members were not willing to take responsibility for the team, leaving it entirely to the team leaders, who consequently worked 60 hours a week. Moreover, the Kanban methodology was only applied by the leaders. The main need was therefore to improve collaboration between the teams by building trust and transparency.
To this end, in March 2020 they decided to introduce the Agile methodology, which they launched with an inaugural event organised by their main sponsor. The transition was then supported by an Agile coach. They opted for Scrum, as they felt that this methodology was best suited to improving collaboration between teams and self-management of teams. Two Scrum teams were created. Team A was made up of a Scrum Master and 13 developers to design and build the car, while Team B was made up of 6 developers and a Scrum Master to handle sponsorship, social media and finance. The two Scrum teams had a single product owner. After the opening event, the agile coach, supported them for 6 months, also giving them several weekend workshops. In addition to Scrum, they also adopted things from the Kanban methodology to improve their processes, capturing the elements of the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog on a Kanban board. They also incorporated Kanban tools to improve daily Scrum meetings and to visualize current and expected problems.
The emergence of the Covid-19 outbreak forced the teams to work remotely for a while, and after some time, face-to-face meetings were resumed, following the university's epidemiological policy. Due to funding difficulties caused by the outbreak, the number of team members had to be reduced. Thanks to Scrum, it was possible to adapt quickly to this change. From then on, the aim was not to recruit as many new team members as possible, but to find team members with the right skills and the right personality. This allowed more time for each team member and also gave them the opportunity to develop as individuals. In addition, team members took on more responsibility, which was a great help for the Scrum Masters. The Scrum events helped to build cooperation between the teams, and the Sprint Reviews (Retrospectives*) and Daily Scrum (Daily Stand-up) meetings helped to build transparency and trust between the two Scrum teams.* During the Retrospectives, everyone can share how they feel about the Sprint thanks to the atmosphere of trust. Whenever a Scrum value is discussed during a sharing, it is always highlighted, reinforcing the direction of progress and building morale and culture.
Six months after the inauguration, about 50% of the team members have been replaced due to changes in Covid and priorities. Thus, the Scrum knowledge level of the team members showed quite a big fluctuation, which the Scrum Masters had to compensate and train the new members. Before agile methods, teams were incapable of self-regulation, as team leaders were the only experts and had the most knowledge. Now that there is more transparency and mastery of Scrum, team communication has improved, there is greater member engagement and knowledge is shared more across the team. In addition, thanks to the Scrum values, the team atmosphere is better and trust has been built among team members. Cooperation and communication between team members has become more effective than ever. Scrum.org was created by Scrum co-founder Ken Schwaber to help individuals and teams solve complex problems. Scrum.org provides continuous learning opportunities and a variety of knowledge resources for everyone from beginners to experienced advanced users. Community members share their experiences and insights through forums, blogs and other platforms.