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Agile Projects, Backlogs, and Task Management, a Quick Guide

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Building complex digital solutions is hard. When working in hospitality it can be made even trickier when creating solutions for venues at scale. We explain our agile methodologies and how they are the ideal way to run projects to deliver amazing outcomes.
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November 2, 2021
Agile Projects, Backlogs, and Task Management, a Quick Guide

Trying to manage multiple sites in the hospitality industry across the UK or within a region can be a logistical challenge without an efficient workflow.

In this article, we’re giving you a short guide on the methods of managing projects across numerous venues within the hospitality space – with some simple examples along with it. Delegating instructions and updates across multiple locations, particularly in hospitality, can easily become confusing when dealing with a variety of venues and activities.

This is where project management and task workflow come into their own. One of the methods adopted is the idea of an Agile workflow, carried out within an Agile team. And as part of that, developing a Scrum methodology and approach to managing multiple projects, across multiple sites.

Let’s start with what agile is so you can get a base understanding of the methodology.

Using agile in the hospitality industry

The Agile methodology is less of a process, and more a set of principles and values that define workflow through a team and is surprisingly flexible, this is broken down as 12 points within the agile manifesto.

Here’s the quick summary answer on how agile works, then we’ll get into some details...

Agile workflow is defined as a series of tasks toward an end product or solution. In Agile methodology, a project is divided into smaller individual cycles referred to as sprints. During each sprint phase, staff, or departments complete tasks toward the end goal, before moving on to the next sprint.

Agile is often a format used in software development, but because it's flexible, it can be customized to fit almost any multi-team and multi-project industry. For the hospitality sector, it’s areas of the workflow principles around an Agile team that fit well. Much of this workflow is based on the Scrum workflow method. As well as the scrum method, there is the kanban method, so let’s discuss those a little more, as these are good systems to adopt within this sector.

Scrum workflow

Scrum is often considered to be at the heart of an agile framework.

The principle of scrum is largely based on the game of Rugby, where the game is reset, or restarted in a scrum, where teams lock heads and push forward, with a view to moving the ball towards the goal.

Scrum is an agile project management framework that continuously works towards end values for customers and the organisation. It does require some rethinking in cultural terms but once adopted, is very efficient.

Sprints form a continuous part of a scrum workflow.

Sprints are a series of iterations that reduce large projects into smaller achievable pieces. Sprints allow for brief daily meetings for feedback, progress reporting, support for areas requiring help, and even changing or reframing the project where required.

Sprints are shorter milestones to specific waypoints within the project, and these provide constant “smaller wins” for the whole team. Sprints typically last two weeks but can vary depending on the size of the project.

How scrum works for hospitality

The development team sets out to change or build a new product or service.

A product backlog is created as a kind of ongoing to-do list by the development team. More on backlogs shortly, but it essentially forms a complete list of requirements, tasks, timelines, etc that will be needed for final project completion.

In the hospitality trade, this could be anything from a new advertising campaign, a new menu, right through to a new restaurant concept and remodel.

Sprints are then set up in which smaller goals should be achieved, and all the tasks required to complete this phase - before then moving on to the next phase.

Ceremonies or short (usually stand-up) meetings are held regularly to communicate, adapt and anticipate and overcome barriers. These can include zoom meetings for remote staff members.

Sprint ceremonies are broken down into 4 main sessions:

  • Sprint planning - Decide what to accomplish during the next sprint, move tasks and requirements from the backlog ready for the sprint.
  • Daily scrum - (or standups) - involve a daily short meeting (usually 15 minutes) to ensure everyone is aligned and on task, or voice concerns, and flag potential barriers to the current sprint goal.
  • Sprint reviews - Held at the end of the sprint to see what was accomplished, assess, review, learn and proceed.
  • Sprint retrospectives - An overall informal assessment meeting about the sprint, the project, the tasks, or the people and adjustments that can be made for future sprints.

The cycle is always in flow, so by the end of the first sprint, the next sprint planning has already been accomplished. So the next sprint can begin seamlessly from the previous sprint.

Scrum roles - hospitality example

The scrum contains a number of roles from team members.

If we take an example of a new menu deployment across our multiple restaurant locations, the roles may be defined as follows:

  • Product owners - In our example, this might be the management and staff who oversee menu creation or changes. These are the staff who define the vision for how the end product will look or work and create the tasks accordingly.
  • Scrum masters - are team experts within their area, so in this scenario, this may include the marketing manager, design or software manager, and perhaps regional or area managers. These are tasked with allocating duties among their team and driving the project to its final sprint goal - in this case, a wholesale menu change.
  • Development teams - This would include the teams headed by the scrum masters. In our example, the marketing teams would work on the new menu designs, the software team would implement website and app changes, the area managers would work with their venue managers to change machinery, practices, training, and staff roles and workflows.

There are other factors concerning scrum methodology, such as artefacts. But why not contact us for more information on how this would all work for you.

Kanban board method - in hospitality

For an agile team, a kanban board can be seen as a simpler, more lightweight method of goal completion.

It’s ideal for smaller sized or lean organisations with fewer venues or smaller projects. It acts as a visualization tool that enables stakeholders to see tasks assigned to them and overall progress at a glance.

Team members can communicate within the kanban board system and query tasks, or move them forward to the next phase (or container) once completed.

Kanban is simply a series of these containers, within each container there sits a number of “cards”. Each card is assigned to a manager, or staff member and each is essentially a task, with instructions, goals and timescales.

Kanban workflow

Completing each task and moving it into the next container then keeps the project moving. In our menu re-design example, the containers may be titled something like:

  • Menu Development - filled by those overseeing the project, containing ideas and plans and requirements.
  • Tasks backlog - a host of tasks that will need to be assigned at appropriate points during the project.
  • Team Tasks - those tasks allocated to relevant teams inside or outside the organisation.
  • Completed tasks - where tasks are moved once completed, for review or to be signed off.

The Kanban board method allows you to see how a project is created, broken down into its constituent tasks, allocated to team members, discussed and monitored, and finally completed.

Why Having a Backlog of Tasks is Beneficial for an Agile Team

keywords: backlog management, scrum backlog management

A little more on the backlog and why having backlog management, or scrum backlog management helps your organisation to get that new menu out or oversee a website redesign seamlessly.

When an agile team workflow is being implemented for a project (see product owners above), a backlog of tasks, and requirements can be grouped together, based on where and when they will be needed in the project

Backlog management and prioritization can be planned based on the business value they deliver, and as part of a timeline. They can then be incorporated into the timeline.

For larger projects, such as a store redesign, it may be beneficial to break the project down further into phases. So doing prevents the backlog of tasks from becoming overcomplex and overwhelming. It also prevents teams from becoming demoralized at the volume of tasks still yet to complete.

Even if project tasks are not visible to the team, or have yet to be implemented, It’s important that you keep track of them in order that nothing is missed.

Scrum team members must be aware of which items on their backlog list require the right level of priority when set against the project (or sprint) completion.

So how does 24Social fit into this planning structure?

Managing your software development backlog

As software, app and content developers, we at 24Social are very familiar with both the scrum method and Kanban boards as part of an agile team workflow.

Therefore, we’re well suited to the allocation of tasks, timelines and sprints. We are even able to form part of the overseeing product team and tasks creation where necessary.

In fact, we invite you to add us to your planning board or your sprint team and get our input on your project from a website, app, content or development perspective. Contact us here to discuss further or just arrange a demo.