Scrum is an agile management framework that uses an adaptive approach, and focuses on team collaboration. Scrum was created to help resolve complex issues. It is the most frequently chosen framework to manage and develop IT projects. Organisations often deal with situations during the development process when a project’s scope, requirements, and goals change; scrum is designed to facilitate work within these changing environments. Using Scrum, a team is well prepared to embrace change, and use it to their advantage.
The Scrum framework was based on three pillars:
- Transparency – work items and processes need to be visible to the Scrum team and project stakeholders.
- Inspection – progress must be inspected to prevent and detect potential issues.
- Adaptation – a team must adapt to a new situation and embrace the changes needed to achieve project goals.
Teamwork is fundamental to working with Scrum. The scrum team is small (10 or less members) and cross-functional. This is vital to maintain seamless and fluent communication between team members, achieve better productivity, and help to identify present and future obstacles. Each member possesses the skills needed to provide value to the project. The Scrum team decides internally who should handle a particular part of work, what tools are required, and which work items should be prioritised. The team is responsible for making decisions, raising issues and proposing solutions.
Organisations often use “Scrum” and “agile” interchangeably. It is important to emphasise that they are distinct from each other.
Agile is a set of principles and values. By following the agile methodology, you apply a new mind-set that impacts all spheres within your organisation. This includes methods of communication, co-operation, and overcoming obstacles.
Scrum is based on agile principles, but it uses its elements (specific roles, events and artefact) to provide value. Additionally, Scrum is a significantly stricter process than agile. In the following paragraphs, we will present this process and explain its elements.
Scrum roles, events and artefacts
Scrum is a framework with a strictly prescribed process flow involving several roles, and defined events and artefacts. The primary goal of this framework is to facilitate and guide a team through the Scrum process.
Product Owner (PO) – The Product Owner represents stakeholders and is responsible for a product’s vision. The PO manages the Product Backlog by creating it, ordering it, and ensuring that all product backlog items (user stories) are visible and understood.
Scrum Master (SM) – The Scrum Master is a Scrum expert responsible for establishing a framework within an organisation. The SM helps their team to understand Scrum principles, and ensures that all events taking place during the Scrum process produce the expected benefits. The SM removes all blockers and bottlenecks that prevent the team from delivering value.
Development Team – This team produces the product. It includes developers, designers, testers and business analytics. The most significant responsibility of the Development Team is to be committed to the Sprint Goal, and to produce a specified outcome after each Sprint. They also plan the Sprint by estimating work items, and creating a Sprint Backlog.
Sprint – This is often described as the “beating heart of Scrum”. Sprints are fixed-length events (usually 1-4 weeks). A Sprint’s length depends on the amount of work that is needed to produce a work item. During each Sprint, a series of iterations are made. After each iteration, a section of the work items is delivered. All the work necessary to achieve the Product Goal including Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective, take place within Sprints.
Sprint Planning – By choosing the work items from a Product Backlog and prioritising them, a Scrum Team can create a Sprint Backlog (which is the Sprint Planning outcome) which defines what should be delivered at the end of a Sprint. Each work item is estimated, depending on the amount of work that is needed to complete it.
Daily Scrum – A 15 minute meeting to coordinate work, and identify work blockers. During this meeting, each team member shares with the group what they did the previous day, and what they plan to do today.
Sprint Review – A meeting in which the Scrum team discusses what was achieved during the sprint. The Development Team presents Sprint results, and gathers feedback about the Team’s progress.
Sprint Retrospective – the team gathers to discuss what went well during the Sprint, and what changes are needed to improve future workflow. The goal is to identify possible improvements.
Product Backlog – a list of all functionalities and features that the Product Owner should provide. These elements should have a significant impact on achieving a greater ROI.
Sprint Backlog – a list of work items selected by the team during the Sprint Planning meeting. These elements are chosen to be delivered during the next Sprint.
Increment – The increment outcome is a usable end product from a Sprint that meets the criteria of “Definition of Done” established by the team (according to the team’s specifications, “Definition of Done” describes what goal has to be achieved to mark the work as done). Within the Sprint, there may be multiple increments.
Scrum workflow process
We have described Scrum’s foundations, roles, events and artefacts. Now we will show you how it works step by step:
- At the beginning of a project, a Product Owner gathers all requirements and creates a list of everything that is needed to finish the product. This is how a Product Backlog is created.
- The Development Team then reviews the Product Backlog during the Sprint Planning meeting. They estimate the time needed to finish each work item, and choose which elements should be completed first.
- The Sprint Backlog is then created.
- Once everything is set in place, the Sprint begins.
- The team works together through iterations to deliver all workpieces added to the Sprint Backlog.
- Every day during the Sprint, teams gather for Daily Scrum meetings.
- The Scrum Master facilitates events, and supports the Product Owner and team to use Scrum. At the end of the Sprint, the team is gathered for a Sprint Review. The Product Owner gathers stakeholders, and asks for their feedback regarding the developed part of the product. In Scrum, this is called the ‘Potentially Shippable Product Increment’.
- The final part of the Sprint is a Sprint Retrospective meeting. The team tries to identify what can be improved.
- When a Sprint ends the new Sprint begins, starting with a Sprint planning meeting.
The main benefits of Scrum methodology in agile
Using Scrum can provide significant value and help you to manage your projects.
However, like all methodologies, Scrum has its pros and cons. These should be considered before making the decision to use it.
To help you make this decision, we prepared a list of these pros and cons:
- Scrum embraces change – When requirements change during a project’s development, Scrum is designed to deal with these situations by adapting to those changes and moving forward.
- Provides the product piece by piece – product development is therefore easier to trace.
- Handles large, vast and complicated projects.
- Effective use of resources – allows a team to better plan their work, and trace their results.
- The team has the power to decide how much work can be achieved within the Sprint based on their judgement and capabilities. This allows the team to deliver more, and deliver faster with sustained quality.
- The team knows what should be done, and how this can be achieved. In Scrum, the team is empowered to decide this.
- Needs to be facilitated by a dedicated Scrum Master.
- For teams that are not familiar with Scrum, it may become difficult to get to grips with. Since Scum is based on a strict, rigid process, it is important to thoroughly understand how it works.
- Since all team members are empowered to lead and make decisions, a lack of leadership might emerge and become an issue.
- In some cases, meetings can become very time-consuming if they are not properly executed.
Scrum is an ideal choice if you need to manage a project without a fixed scope, and if you are working in a constantly changing environment. It also helps to manage large projects, and provides a step-by-step process.
At HeadChannel, we are always thinking about the customer’s needs first. Our team members possess vast knowledge of Scrum. We are supported by expertise provided by the Scrum Master, and we have earned Product Owner certificates. We have even delivered several Scrum projects ourselves. We have the experience and expertise needed to choose the methodology and framework to ensure the best results for our clients.