What is Scrum Methodology: The Fundamentals

It is no secret that Agile has become a big buzzword in the software development industry. This collaborative and iterative methodology have taken the process of product development to a whole new level.

Scrum is one of the most used frameworks for implementing Agile. It is an agile way to approach software development or to manage a project. There are many frameworks, such as Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Lean Software Development, etc. that can be used to implement agile and Scrum is one of them.

What is Scrum Methodology?

Scrum is an efficient project management framework, based on agile principles, which enables you to develop software via collaboration and teamwork. Scrum methodology uses real-time decision-making processes based on actual events and information.

The term was borrowed from an analogy put forth in a 1986 study published in the Harvard Business Review, which compared cross-functional teams to the scrum (or scrummage) formation in rugby.

The concept of Scrum was introduced by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in 1986 in an article titled “”The New New Product Development Game””, which was written in the context of manufacturing.

In 1993, Jeff Sutherland, John Scumniotales, and Jeff McKenna adopted, documented and implemented the model for software development at Easel Corporation. A white paper on “”SCRUM Development Process“” was presented by Ken Schwaber at OOPSLA in 1995.

A key principle of Scrum methodology is that it accommodates change and unpredictability. Scrum methodology recognizes the fact that the customers can change their minds about what they want and need during the product development process.

Therefore, Scrum adopts an iterative and incremental approach that focuses on maximizing the team’s ability to deliver fast, to respond to emerging requirements and to adapt to evolving technologies and changes in market conditions.

The scrum development method relies on a self-organizing, cross-functional team. In a self-organizing scrum team, there is no overall team leader to assign tasks to each person. Decisions on how to solve a problem are taken by the team as a whole.

Scrum Process: The Activities Involved

In a scrum development model, the projects progress through a series of sprints. A sprint is a time-box ranging between a duration of two weeks and one month during which a potentially releasable product increment is created.

The activities involved in a scrum process are:

  • Sprint Planning Meeting: A planning meeting held at the onset of each sprint to discuss the work that is to be done. The scrum team collaboratively prioritizes the items on the product backlog and then create a sprint backlog based on their agreed upon commitments.
  • The Daily Scrum Standup: A 15-minute time-boxed event, organized daily, during which sprint team members exchange information regarding their day-to-day work and identify the impediments. Daily scrums help the scrum team to synchronize the activities and create a plan for that day.
  • Sprint Review: At the end of each sprint, the scrum team demonstrates and reviews the functionality added during the sprint. During sprint review, all the stakeholders inspect the increment and make changes to the Product Backlog, if needed. This meeting serves the purpose of getting feedback from the product owner, the users or other stakeholders.
  • Sprint Retrospective: A meeting held after the Sprint Review and prior to the next Sprint Planning. During this meeting, the scrum team reflects on the previous sprint and identify opportunities to improve in the subsequent sprints.

 

Scrum Project Management: The Key Artifacts

Although scrum methodology does not really need too many artifacts, it does require a few to deliver the right software that produces business value. It is obvious that the primary artifact in a scrum process is the product itself. The main artifacts of scrum methodology are:

Product Backlog: It is a complete list of features that are needed as part of the end product. It lists all the enhancements, features, functions, fixes, and requirements that constitute the changes to be made to the product.

Sprint Backlog: It is basically a set of Product Backlog items comprising tasks the scrum team needs to complete during the sprint. plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal. The team modifies the Sprint Backlog throughout the Sprint. Whenever new work is required, the team adds it to the Sprint Backlog. Similarly, at the instance of completing a task, the estimated remaining work is updated.

Burndown charts: These are used to track the amount of work remaining in a sprint. Burndown charts offer an effective way to determine whether a sprint is on schedule to progress towards the Sprint Goal.

The Scrum Team: The Major Roles

The scrum team comprises three major roles, namely, a Product Owner, a ScrumMaster, and the Team.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is responsible for optimizing the value of the product and the work of the scrum team. The product owner creates a compelling vision of the product and conveys it to the team through the product backlog. He is the sole person authorized to manage the Product Backlog.

ScrumMaster

The ScrumMaster is the keeper of the scrum process. In a scrum project management scenario, the role of ScrumMaster differs from a traditional project manager. The ScrumMaster helps the team to perform at its best during scrum development.

The Team

The team consists of a cross-functional group of 5-9 people who are responsible for developing the product. The scrum team works in close collaboration on a daily basis and possesses all the competencies to accomplish the product goal without any external intervention. The team model is designed to optimize creativity, flexibility, and productivity.

Why Scrum?

Scrum methodology is a proven method to achieving software agility. The scrum approach enables software development businesses to prioritize the work that matters most and break it down into a manageable set of tasks (sprints).

Adopting scrum methodology ensures that the team produces a potentially marketable product increment (working, high-quality software) at the end of each sprint. Shifting from conventional project management approaches to Scrum methodology demands an adjustment in terms of the activities, the artifacts and the roles within a project team.

However, a little adjustment towards agility may help the teams as well as organizations to benefit from faster delivery, reduced risk, and increased Return on Investment (ROI).

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