Why and How Tektonic Labs use Scrum

By Dan Watts – December 23, 2020

Hi, we’re Tektonic Labs … a small software company with lots of ambition and great ideas about how we can produce awesome products for our customers.  This series of articles describes how we use Scrum to deliver software projects on time and on budget. 

We use Lean, Agile and Scrum principles to help us achieve the following aims (taken from the Agile Mainfesto);

  1. To make work visible – real-time and up to date
  2. Limit work-in-progress (WIP) – through planning and monitoring team Velocity
  3. Measure and manage workflow – through Story points and Velocity
  4. Prioritise work effectively – through clear priority settings
  5. Continually improve and adjust work practices

In this article we’ll walk you through how we Make work visible.

The principle of making work visible has been widely adopted by organisations that apply Lean principles for decades, and the reason is very simple … It exposes waste. Waste in this context is anything that does not deliver value to the customer. In Lean thinking, there are 8 wastes referred to as TIMWOODS;

Source: shmula.com

These wastes can be seen in physical as well as administrative and virtual processes and contribute to a significant amount of the effort of every team and organisation. And when we say significant, we mean it … 85% to 95% of all activities in most organisations can be classified as not delivering value to the customer – or in other words non-value-adding (NVA).  This means only 5% to 15% of all activities are delivering value to the customer – the things we can call value-adding (VA).

Now not all NVA activities are waste, some are necessary (such as legislative compliance) and just have to be done. The remaining NVA activities are the things we can focus on to either reduce or eliminate. Making work visible helps us do this.

By making work visible, we can expose waste in all its forms and act quickly to reduce or eliminate it.  At Tektonic Labs we make work visible by applying Scrum principles, and we use the Jira platform to manage this.


Scrum is a part of Agile methodologies and describes the approach where a team delivers working results (in our case working software) in a 2 week Sprint. In Scrum we break the work down into User Stories which describe what the user of the output is seeking to do, for example; As a {type of user}, I want {goal} so that I {receive benefit}. Each User Story is then given points to reflect the amount of effort required by the whole team (not individuals) to deliver that story. The Velocity of the team tells us the number of points the team can complete in that 2 week Sprint. This is essentially the “throughput” of the team. Since we have a stable baseline for calculating Velocity and for estimating Story Points, we can confidently forecast the time and effort required to complete User Stories. Scrum is an elegant, team-based approach to managing projects that relies on the establishment of standard work and the adoption of disciplined work practices.


Tektonic Labs use the Jira platform to manage our Scrum workflow and this platform allows us to make work visible in a variety of ways with;

Project Roadmaps that are similar to a Gantt chart, showing the tasks and estimated time frames for each major piece of work (called Epics), and for the User Stories that make up each Epic.

The Project Backlog displays all the User Stories (or Issues) that make up the project.

Sprint Boards show the real-time status of each piece of work.

By using these and other visual work tools, we can minimise any wasteful and unnecessary non-value adding tasks and focus on delivering value-adding software to our clients on time and on budget.

Here’s a list of some great resources if you want to do some further research;

  • DeGrandis, D. (2017), Making work visible, Amazon
  • Brophy, A. (2013), Guide to Lean, Financial Times
  • Womack, J. and Jones, D. (2003), Lean Thinking, Free Press
  • Cohn, M. (2006), Agile planning & estimating, Addison-Wesley
    The Agile Manifesto, agilemanifesto.org

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