Scrum is a project management framework that enables teams to work adaptively and deliver projects in a short time. This set of principles and rules is useful for tackling complex projects since it is iterative, that is, the team goes over the same project making improvements and adding features according to customers’ needs.
Compared to conventional methods that require countless meetings to establish a detailed plan, Scrum set goals and let the team find the best solutions for tackling the problem. Scrum artifacts, roles, and events are organized so that at the end of a cycle, called a sprint, the product owner already has a releasable product.
Scrum matches the needs of today’s fast-paced world, where business needs, customer demands, and marketing trends are always changing. As it is organized in short cycles, whenever the market changes, the product also changes to appeal to new demands.
Widely used in software development, Scrum is also useful in IT, marketing, and a range of other areas that require teamwork and quick problem-solving.
What are the Scrum principles?
The three pillars of Scrum are transparency, inspection, and adaptation, which are the principles of any successful team.
- Transparency allows team members to communicate any problems they have with a task or whether they can manage the amount of work assigned to them.
- Inspection is essential for keeping track of the improvement made and adapting the plan to match the project goals. The product owner receives valuable feedback and clarifies the product requirements to the Scrum team
- Adaptation is a must for products to match market demands. When a product takes too much to be released, it may not appeal to potential clients anymore. On the other hand, Scrum allows the product to keep up with market trends with rapid adaptation, continual improvement, and fast feedback.
Scrum artifacts provide key information for the Scrum team and stakeholders to understand what the project is, the completed, and the remaining tasks. These are three official Scrum artifacts:
- Product backlog – This is an ordered list with all the features the project needs to have. Its creation is based on the project vision and user stories, which means this list is always receiving input from users.
- Sprint backlog – This is a list of work to be done throughout a sprint. The Scrum team and the project owner decide the most important features that can be developed and implemented in a short period, usually 2-4 weeks.
- Increment – After a sprint, the team must have a releasable product with the new features it created. For this, teams have to establish a definition of done, which is a set of criteria to be met before considering the increment finished.
A Scrum team is cross-functional and self-organizing, meaning that all members help each other regardless of their specialty. If carried out properly, Scrum sprints allow continuous improvement of both, the project and the team itself. A Scrum team has around seven people who perform the following roles:
- Product owner – this is the person responsible for organizing backlogs, and understanding market requirements and business needs. It has to be just one person so that the team does not get confused receiving instructions from different people.
- Scrum master – this is similar to a coach who will accompany the team daily to organize the Scrum cycle and fine-tune the Scrum practices to match the demands on time.
- Scrum team – this is a team composed of professionals with different areas of specialty who collaborate to develop the project. The components of the team will vary according to the nature of the project and the skills it requires.
Scrum is composed of sprints. Each sprint lasts up to a month and is organized in events, which have their importance for the project development. These are the main events of a Scrum sprint:
- Stand-up meeting: This is a daily meeting when the team reunites for 15 minutes to tell each other what they did on the last day and what they will do within the next 24 hours. This is the time to communicate any impediments to the Scrum master.
- Sprint planning meeting: This is when the team members reunite and discuss their tasks for the next sprint. They look into the product backlog and select the most important features to be developed.
- Sprint: This is the period when the team starts developing the project. Team members choose strategies to approach the project and collaborate to match the goals set in the sprint planning meeting.
- Sprint review: After developing a releasable increment, the product owner and Scrum team meet with stakeholders to present what has been accomplished during the sprint. This meeting is important to discuss whether the sprint goals were met and receive feedback from stakeholders.
- Sprint retrospective: While the sprint review focus on what was done, the sprint retrospective focus on how it was done. This is the time for all people involved in the project to discuss what went well, what could be improved, and how to improve the process.
Scrum processes may take time to master, but they boost productivity by approaching the project collaboratively. This means that all team members are involved in the project and closely follow its development.
Ultimately, Scrum helps to improve team morale by presenting opportunities for professional improvement as well as making the team aware of the results they achieved during a sprint.