Best of Both Worlds: Double Productivity with GTD and Scrum

The software development team at Function Point has recently adopted the Scrum framework for managing product development. Embracing the Scrum methodology means that FP has the flexibility to shift with its clients’ emerging business realities. Greater responsiveness to client feedback and more frequent delivery of new features are just two of the benefits this new system will deliver.

What is Scrum?

The infallible Wikipedia defines Scrum as “an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development.”

It’s outside the scope of this blog to cover the Scrum process, but as with GTD, a simple Google search will provide you with plenty of information.

What is GTD?

GTD (Getting Things Done), is a methodology that assists busy people like you and me with gaining control and perspective over all activities they would like to accomplish.

The way I think of it, GTD is the equivalent of implementing a Scrum process that is time boxed to sprints of one week. I’ve been practicing GTD for quite a few years, but I only started to dive into Agile and Scrum very recently. The analogy between the two systems occurred to me when I first started to look at Scrum.

The Scrum-GTD Connection

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 GTD building blocks, and explore their connection to the Scrum workflow:

Collect

This is where you build your backlog. At this point you act as the product owner. You build the backlog by either visualizing where you want to take the product (you and the things you are responsible for), as well as anything that requires you to respond to external forces.

Process

Think of this as the product backlog grooming session that happens on a daily basis. First, you identify what needs to get done for everything in your inbox similar to how you build the backlog in the previous step. Next, check feasibility and try to assess the effort or each item. For this step you act as the Scrum master, the development team and the product owner. In other words, you are responsible for facilitating the “meeting”, defining the next step, planning what needs to get done and clarifying what the requirements are, what success would look like, and defining the acceptance criteria.

Getting things done starts with a solid definition of ‘done’

Organize

Think of this as planning your releases. You act as the product owner. Based on what you’ve discovered while processing, you identify the priority of the items based on your personal values, the next steps involved and when things need to get done by. You add due dates if required, add events to your calendar, build projects, and you define the context that is required to perform the work. In general, you tentatively plan when the work will get done, or when you need to be reminded about it.

Review

This step is where you’re managing all your hats at once. It’s a combination of the sprint retrospective and sprint planning. Start by looking back at the week to record things to learn, and how to improve your processes based on mistakes you made during the week. Refine your product backlog, and plan for the future – look at the events coming up and plan what things you want to make priorities. At the same time you do some house keeping – get rid of anything that doesn’t make sense anymore, is completed but not marked as such, or is missing project information. This is like a big reset before you begin your next ‘sprint’.

Do

At this stage you are the development team, you take things off the backlog either from this ‘sprint,’ or even the ‘product backlog, and you complete them.

I welcome your feedback and any insights into this topic that you may have. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Please note: I am not licensed, certified, approved, or endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with David Allen or the David Allen Company which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.

Want to boost productivity at your creative agency? Function Point’s all-in-one agency management software improves productivity and profitability by streamlining processes, simplifying collaboration, centralizing information, and delivering real-time business data.

Marissa Ho

Brand & Product Coordinator

Marissa was raised on a steady diet of mountain and ocean activities. She’s a product marketer by day, reader by night, and human being by day and night.

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