If you’ve spent even a small amount of time in the area of digital project management then you must have heard about the Scrum methodology. Scrum, which was designed to manage software development teams. Now, this methodology finds its applicability across many other fields like marketing, project management, and many more.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a management framework that harnesses incremental processes in a larger framework that leverages cross-functional teams to achieve their goals along with adapting to frequent changes. The prime aim of Scrum is to establish small pieces of a release quickly rather than focusing on every incremental step that takes place within each sprint and iteration.
Now it comes to its significance. Adopting Scrum project management paves the way for lower costs of development, immediate returns, greater responsiveness to customers, and job satisfaction. It is more like a fluid practice rather than a linear one which takes many moving teams, parts, and goals into consideration as it continues to progress.
Furthermore, Scrum provides a targeted structure with the help of four stages which are:
- Sprint planning
- Sprint demo
- Daily standup
- Sprint retrospective
In the plainest words, it is a highly efficient and prescriptive process. We’ll discuss these Scrum stages later.
How Does Scrum Work?
It is a framework that takes small teams to create products. Like XP, Kanban, and other methodologies of Agile, Scrum uses iterative, lightweight, and integrated development.
It is not a specific technique but an approach and known for establishing working relationships that assist many different people to manage complex projects collaboratively. These relationships can be differentiated in ceremonies, artifacts, and roles. We will come to that later.
Scrum advocates for self-organization instead of hierarchy. It offers a team the freedom to execute their work. This is the prime reason why interactions of the Scrum team stand on three of its significant pillars.
All the significant aspects of the project must be visible to every person who is responsible. Efficient Scrum teams ensure that they are sharing information frequently.
Each Scrum event offers an opportunity to analyze the process and its progress for improvements.
All the adjustments are made accordingly.
When to Use Scrum?
You can use Scrum for the projects that are flexible and easy, yet defined well enough to hit targets and achieve goals that the stakeholders and customers have set.
As we discussed above, Scrum can be defined by its sprints, so it can be best used for those kinds of projects that would gain benefit from an incessant re-evaluation of tasks, goals, and roles of the team.
Scrum comes with its set of prescribed roles that gives structure to a project and yet has enough room for accommodating any shifting of assignments that are based on timelines that keep evolving out of the process.
Apart from that, Scrum can be used:
- Needs quick feedback loop
- Have stakeholders who keep on changing their minds frequently
- Have a cross-functional team
- Don’t receive that many interruptions from daily business
- Uses feedback from stakeholders to prioritize the next sprint
What Are the Principles of Scrum?
If someone wants to implement Scrum properly then its core principles should be followed accurately. Many of these principles are applicable for agile as a whole and others are just limited applicable to Scrum methodology. Here are the core principles of Scrum.
Interactions and Individuals Over Tools and Processes
The first principle is that it is more leaned on interactions and individuals rather than the tools and defined methods. In this particular methodology, communication plays a significant role in the processes than running the project.
Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
It focuses more on creating products instead of spending a huge amount of time simply writing down a ton of requirements. In this methodology, the time-boxed sprints of work run with an increment that is shippable which are produced at the end of all sprint.
Collaboration with a Customer Over Contract Negotiation
The Scrum methodology tends to value customer collaboration as it has consistent and regular client involvement. Throughout the entire process, the client is entirely involved.
Effectively Responding to a Change Over Simply Following a Plan
Scrum methodology doesn’t see change as their enemy. Instead, it perceives change as a good thing. Scrum empowers organizations to embrace change and evolving requirements.
The Three Artifacts of Scrum
Scrum artifacts are quintessential as they communicate valuable information to the Scrum team that they must be aware of during product development.
The product backlog enlists all the necessities, functions, and features of the product. It’s much important to note that it’s quite general to have a product’s requirements being changed during development. This tends to happen either due to market trends or to reflect business needs. To reflect such kinds of changes, the product backlog constantly keeps on updating itself.
Product Backlog Item
These are items that a product backlog has. These items entail the changes that are to be made for the outcome.
“User stories” is a rather simple way to express the desired outcome to the development team in which a simple sentence explains what a user or a business is looking for in the product. The structure of User stories is like this: “As an [blank] I want to [blank] so that I can [blank].”
These are the product backlog items that are selected for the sprint. This includes a plan for the production of an increment when the sprint ends.
The sprint backlog indicates the amount of work that the development team will do in the next sprint. It also defines the items that are required to produce an increment that meets the done’ definition.
What are the different Scrum roles?
Scrum methodology is defined by multiple roles in which some members are aligned with a particular part of the process in which they oversee certain variables and then contribute at the end of the product. These roles are consist of:
Scrum Development Team
A Scrum development team is a group of professionals that are responsible for the delivery of a release increment of “Done” at the end of every sprint process.
Let’s see some other salient features of the Scrum development team:
- Development teams are highly self-organizing in nature. This is because no one in the Scrum team (which includes the Scrum Master too) is permitted to tell the team as to how to turn the Product Backlog into Increments.
- Scrum development teams are cross-functional and require all members to possess skills to create an Increment.
- The team takes all the responsibility for the successes and the failures. Even if the team misses out on an Increment at the end of the sprint due to a mistake of a single member, it accepts the responsibility as a whole.
The Scrum Master has the responsibility of leading the Scrum team. They must ensure that everyone has a crystal-clear understanding of the Scrum principles. They also offer teaching and guidance whenever necessary.
The Scrum Master leads the entire team through the daily Scrum. However, it’s important to note that the Scrum Master is not the ultimate leader of the Scrum team. The Scrum Master is not directly responsible for the outcomes as we earlier discussed that the entire team takes responsibility for the result whatever it may be.
The Scrum Master also works with the Product Owner to ensure that the project is on the right track. They do tasks like:
- Organizing Scrum events
- Optimizing Product Backlog Management
- Helping the Scrum team to clearly understand the requirements of a concise product backlog items.
The product owner represents the customer base or business. Their purpose is to ensure that other members of the Scrum don’t forget the main objective of the sprint. Product owners possess a strong understanding of user’s requirements as they have a wide variety of potential customers and business users.
The product owner prioritizes the features and requirements of the product to the development when each sprint starts. Their job is to answer all the questions that the development team might have about requirements and specifications. It’s important to note that the product owner is not involved with development whatsoever.
Scrum Events (Ceremonies)
There are four major kinds of Scrum meetings which are also known as Scrum ceremonies or events. Some types of Scrum events take place at a specific time during the development process. Let’s see each type one by one.
Sprint can be defined as a time-boxed period in which some specific work is completed and subsequently prepared for review. Generally, sprints are 2-4 weeks long; however, in a few cases, they can be as short as one week.
Sprint Planning Sprint
Planning team meetings are also time-boxed events that decide how the work will be completed and which product items shall be delivered.
The Daily Stand-Up
It’s a short communication meeting of fewer than 15 minutes in which every team member covers their progress since the last stand-up quickly and transparently. They also share their planned work before the next meeting and discuss roadblocks if any that are blocking their progress.
The Sprint Review
The Sprint Review is a demonstration event that is also known as a “show-and-tell” event where the teams get to display their work which they completed during the sprint.
Now it comes to the Product Owner checking the work against their pre-defined criteria and based on it they either accept or reject the work. During this stage, the client and the stakeholders also give feedback to ensure that the delivered increment meets the pre-defined criteria.
The Retrospective is the final team meeting of the sprint which determines what went well and whatnot. It also influences how the team can increase efficiency in the next sprint. The retrospective encircles the ScrumMaster and the team.
This meeting offers the team an important opportunity to focus on its performance along with identifying various strategies that can bring continuous improvements in their processes.
At the end of the role, Scrum is all about ensuring that your team works on a valuable project together in a more efficient and organized way. May you get irritated due to the intense work but in the long term, it will provide you with guaranteed productivity.