Return to site

Agile for Everything that's not Software - Part3 

HR - Developing and implementing organizational policy

Welcome to the 3rd part of the Agile for Everything that's not Software, series. If this is the first time you have heard about it, it doesn't matter. You can take a peek at the previous blogs here.

In this blog, we will jump into the depths of Scrum and see how we can use it to develop and implement an organizational policy.

I just love the image below. It says everything that there is to say about implementing scrum

I have mapped some of the scrum terms with the general process used to formulate a policy.

  1.  Identify the person who will be responsible (Identify the product owner) - The product owner is the person who will be responsible for implementing the policy. Generally, this person is a person who has the authority to make decisions about budget and has the expertise to create the product backlog. This person works as a liaison between the stakeholders, experts and the teams.
  2. Identify needs - (create user stories and product backlog) 
  3. Gather information and get the experts(Form the team) - Form the scrum team that includes people from HR, legal, finance, IT expert for website update, decision maker/approver, policy drafter, Subject matter experts and the process leader(scrum master). Ideally the scrum master should be someone that the team looks up to and listens to. The scrum master is a servant leader and should not be someone who is intimidating or threatening.
  4. Draft and develop actual policy. This includes check-points, reviews and finalizing definition of done (via multiple sprints)
  5. Approve and finalize the policy (At the end of every sprint, have a sprint Review)
  6. Roll-out the policy (Product launch, Shippable product)

Now let’s assume that an organization wants to implement an employee leave and time-off policy. When we use scrum, we do the following steps till the policy is implemented

  1. Create/refine the product backlog - This product backlog is a big list of all the procedures and rules that need to be implemented and the workflow related to payroll, leave request and approval, finance, regulatory standards, leave and time-off data storage and so on.  During every sprint, the team will select a few stories from this list and implement them. The Product owner is responsible for creating, updating and maintaining the product backlog by working with the experts inside and outside the organization.
  2. The team - For implementing this policy, the team has to include people with expertise in finance, HR, experts on employee leave benefit law, Website development, Back-end data storage, pay roll experts and so on.
  3. Plan for the sprint - During the sprint planning meeting, team decides the sprint duration (optimum duration is 2 weeks) and selects the backlog items/user stories that they think are of utmost importance and can be completed in selected duration. Every team member selects what he/she wants to work on.  
  4. Execute the sprint - During the sprint, everyone works on what they have selected. Everyday, the team has a daily standup of less than 15 mins and discusses the following three things
    • What was completed yesterday
    • What are they going to work on today
    • List down roadblocks. 

If there are any roadblocks, the scrum master works with the individual and helps him/her resolve the issue

  1. Sprint Review: At the end of the sprint, the team showcases what was done. This may include changes to the website, the policy draft, the payroll workflow, etc. At this point, the approvers and sponsors make a decision about whether the changes are acceptable or not. The product owner based on the input from the approver can update the product back log or mark the items as done.
  2. Sprint Retrospective: As is quite common with the human race, people tend to have differences and conflicts. There might also be a need to re-organize the team based on expertise. So, before the start of new sprint, the team gets together and does the following three things
    • What did we do well?
    • What did not work very well and should be stopped?
    • What have we learned and should continue doing?
    • Do we need the same expertise for the next sprint?
  3. Backlog Refinement: Throughout the sprint, the product owner and the team are also involved in refining the product back log, which basically means talking to the management, experts and external agencies to ensure that legal, regulatory aspects are taken care of. The changes cannot be implemented during the current sprint. If it is a major change, the current sprint should be cancelled and a new one should be started. If it is an additional feature, it should be included in the product back log and taken up during the next sprint. The Scrum master is responsible for ensuring that all the rules of scrum are followed.
  4. Release planning/Roll-out/Launch:  A policy can be launched in part or at one go. Product owner may plan for small releases after specific number of sprints and check out the actual reaction of the end users. This enables the team to alter or make any changes before the final roll-out   

In the areas of HR, where a lot depends on approvals and reviews, it is extremely important to have the right team structure to avoid delays because of dependencies. It is best to have the decision makers in the team.

I hope this blog helps you to implement scrum in your work area. Please feel free to comment, ask questions and give suggestions. To know more visit

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!