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Scrum in Front-End Planning: ABInBev Capital Project

Key Findings:

•Using Scrum, the team was able to reduce the $50 million total project value by 15% with no significant changes in project scope.



•Interdependence between team members in the accomplishment of their tasks, resulting in an overall increase in quality of product delivered. By increasing the visibility of tasks and priorities, team members were able to more easily see where they could contribute to the work of their team members. 


•A universal theme among all team members was that Scrum dramatically increases accountability of the team collectively and the individual team members.


Executive Summary:
Agile / Scrum Methodological Implementation in Capital Projects by ABInBev

The Saint Louis Axe facility is an innovation project focused on multiplying the uses for beer byproducts. The project itself is currently located in the Front-End Planning (FEP) Phase, Funding Stage of the AB InBev Capital Project Process. The team has found success using Scrum as a Process (SaaP) throughout the design phase. Based on team-members experience with the traditional construction methodology in the FEP phase, the team has seen the greatest benefits in communication, interdependence, accountability, and results: 

Communication – SaaP encourages participation of all team members regardless of position or place in hierarchy. Scrum team members felt that no matter their position outside the team, the equality of the individual contributors precipitated candid dialogue and honest discussion amongst all participants. Anecdotal observation indicates a high level of attendance at meetings and certainty on the current priorities of the team. 

Interdependence – By increasing the visibility of tasks and priorities on the scrum team, team members were able to more easily see where they could contribute to the work of their team members. As a result, collaboration between different process areas was more streamlined and efficient, decreasing the amount of time it took to complete tasks, scope gap, and thus increasing value of the deliverable being provided. When examining the different number of ‘Champion[s]’ (the individual person or entity assigned responsibility for a task), there were (43) unique champions for (413) product backlog tasks over the course all sprints, indicating significant mixing of ad hoc teams, high levels of cooperation, and dependence on other team members. 

Accountability – Status updates occur daily through the morning scrum; as such, there is distinct pressure on each champion to continue to drive progress or state the impediments that are hindering the champions’ ability to complete a given task. Also, because the methodology requires the team members to consistently present their work in an open forum to the entire team, it increases pressure to deliver a sound product or progress by the end of the sprint. 

  • Tasks were more likely to be accomplished inside of a single sprint when assigned 13 story points or less 
  • A group of individuals collectively assigned as a champion for a given task increased the probability that a given task would be accomplished inside of one sprint 

Results – All scrum team members were firm in their belief that their scrum team is producing more favorable results than traditional methods of design and construction management. Though it is difficult to judge independently, scrum team members believe that their work is of higher quality and completed more quickly due to the factors above. This is backed up by the data; while the team was given an additional six months to complete elements of facility design, they have reduced the total project budget by 15% without significant changes to scope (as of 4 September 2020) on a project that exceeds $50 million in total project value. 

Based on the author’s experience as a member of the team and the universal opinion of the STL Axe scrum team (multiple members of whom have multiple decades of capital project management experience at AB InBev or subsidiary business units), the author recommends the continued use of the scrum / agile methodology in this project and into the execution phase. Additionally, the author recommends that the methodological use of scrum agile be piloted and examined for adoption by additional business units and zones inside of AB InBev as the methodology used in capital construction projects. 

Scrum in Front-End Planning: ABInBev Capital Project

Implementing Scrum during the Front-End planning phase of a $50 million construction project helped consumer goods giant ABInBev save 15% without significant changes to scope or reductions in quality.

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