Scrum: What is it and how to implement it
What is Scrum?
Today, we introduce the term Scrum, a popular agile methodology designed to guide teams in the iterative and progressive delivery of a project.
Scrum is basically a method of getting work done in small pieces at a time (called Sprints). The project goes through feedback loops along the way that allow continuous improvement as you go. As an agile framework, Scrum provides just enough structure for people and teams to integrate into how they work, while also incorporating the right practices to optimise their performance.
The Scrum framework was first introduced in the 1990s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber as a way for managing complex projects. The name of this methodology comes from a technique used in rugby. In this sport, scrum refers to when the team works together to move the ball forward, which in the context of project management would be to move the project forward.
Scrum is an empirical method where choices are derived through experience, experimentation, and observation. Scrum is built on three main pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. The main principle that connects all these elements together is Trust. A Scrum Team that lacks trust will probably experience conflict and delays in completing tasks. All Scrum Teams need to also work following the Scrum Values of Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect and Openness.
The Scrum framework consists of three main elements: the Scrum roles, events and artifacts.
The Scrum Roles
For Scrum to work, a series of roles and tasks must be assigned to the people working on the project. The team is made of:
- Product Owner: the person who makes sure that the Scrum Team is creating the most valuable product they can offer.
- Scrum Master: the person who uses their knowledge of Scrum to help the team and organisation be as effective as they can. They do so by taking approaches like coaching, teaching, facilitating and mentoring.
- Developers: the people on the Scrum Team who work together to create the product.
The Scrum Team takes part in five events and produces three artifacts.
The Scrum Events
Scrum is designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing teams to adjust their approach as needed throughout the project. This flexibility is achieved by using short, iterative work cycles called Sprints:
- Sprint: short cycles that last less than a month where all the other Scrum events take place. During each Sprint, the team works to complete a set of tasks that have been identified. At the end of the Sprint, the team reviews their progress and adapts their approach as needed for the next Sprint.
- Sprint Planning: event that happens at the beginning of each Sprint where the team collaboratively plans the work that will be delivered along the cycle.
- Daily Scrum: An every-day short meeting where the team synchronises their work and inspect the progress towards the goal, readapting the work If necessary.
- Sprint Review: event that takes place at the end of the Sprint, it’s where the team reviews the work they completed during the Sprint with the stakeholders and work on the adjustments needed.
- Sprint Retrospective: meeting held at the end of the review where the team reflects on their performance during the Sprint and identifies ways to improve.
In summary, Scrum events are a set of brief meetings that help the team plan, synchronize their work, review their progress, and continuously improve towards the project goals. One of the key benefits of Scrum is its focus on collaboration and communication. By working together in short, focused Sprints, teams are able to stay aligned and make rapid progress towards their objectives.
The Scrum Artifacts
In Scrum, there are three main artifacts that help to ensure transparency, inspection, and adaptation throughout the project:
- Product Backlog (Product Goal): it’s a list of tasks ordered by priority that the development team will work on. It’s managed by the Product Owner who ensures the tasks align with the product vision and provide value to the customer. The Product Backlog outlines whatever is needed to improve the product.
- Sprint Backlog (Sprint Goal): it’s a part of the Product Backlog that the development team aims to complete during the current sprint. It’s created during the Sprint Planning meeting and can be updated as the team progresses through the sprint.
- Increment (Definition of Done): It’s the combined result of all the product backlog items completed during a sprint. It represents a working version of the product that can be shipped and improved with every sprint. It’s evaluated during the Sprint Review meeting to measure progress and plan the next sprint.
Agile Project Management vs Scrum
As we’ve mentioned, Scrum is an agile methodology, but these two frameworks are not interchangeable.
The main difference between the two methodologies is that, while Scrum is a framework for successfully managing project work, Agile is a philosophy. For an organisation to become Agile, the whole team must change its delivery dynamics. However, the Scrum framework can be used for specific projects and as a way of initiating the transition to an overall agile philosophy.
They both share similar methods, but they are built differently. While Scrum is divided into small rigid cycles, Agile is rather a more flexible approach in which phases are not so strictly defined. To understand it better: Scrum is always Agile, but Agile is not always Scrum. This means that Scrum is always based on an Agile philosophy of Evaluation – Analysis & Design – Development – Implementation; but Agile may not share the specific same patterns as the Scrum framework.
How to implement Scrum into your team
Scrum is a powerful framework for agile project management that has been embraced by organizations around the world. By focusing on transparency, inspection, and adaptation, Scrum enables teams to work together more effectively and efficiently, while providing a framework for continuous improvement. Whether you are new to agile project management or a professional, Scrum is definitely worth exploring.
We understand that implementing a Scrum methodology is not the easiest thing to do, that’s why we help our clients make this change in the most subtle and simple way possible. That way their project performance will be enhanced without causing a disruptive shift within the organisation.
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