Scrum is a popular framework to help teams work together on complex projects. Scrum is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. These principles help teams to self-organize and continuously improve their work. Scrum groups usually consist of a product owner, a scrum master, and developers.
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The product owner is in charge of the product backlog, which contains all the tasks that need to be completed. The scrum master is responsible for easing the scrum process and ensuring that the team follows the scrum guidelines. Developers are responsible for completing the tasks in the product backlog.
Scrum teams typically use sprints, or time-boxed periods, to complete their work. After each Sprint, the team reflects on their work and identifies areas for improvement. Each Sprint has a specific goal, and the team should have a working product ready for review at the end of the Sprint.
The Scrum framework is designed to be simple and easy to understand to be used in various situations. In practice, however, Scrum can be quite complex. This is because it relies on the team’s ability to self-organize and decide how best to achieve their goals.
The scrum master makes sure the team follows the scrum process. They also act as a coach and facilitator, helping the team solve problems and overcome obstacles.
The product owner is responsible for the product backlog. They prioritize the backlog items and decide which ones should be worked on next.
The team delivers the product. They do this by breaking the work down into small chunks and then working on them one at a time. The team also decides how best to achieve their goals and solve problems.
- Courage: The courage to face complex problems and resolve them.
- Focus: The focus is to continue working on a problem until it is solved.
- Commitment: The commitment to see a task through to completion.
- Respect: Respect for others, including their ideas and opinions.
- Openness: Being open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Scrum prescribes four events for inspection and adaptation, as shown in the figure. These events are key to Scrum’s success and to achieving the goal of the agile Manifesto:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially created. Sprints have consistent durations throughout a development organization. A new Sprint starts immediately after the previous Sprint.
Sprints contain and consist of the Sprint Backlog, the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint.
A key scrum practice is the transparency of progress. The product owner tracks this progress toward achieving the goal throughout the Sprint by inspecting the sprint backlog. During the Sprint, progress is monitored and adapted accordingly.
The sprint Review Meeting
At the end of every Sprint, all stakeholders meet for a sprint review meeting. The main purpose of this meeting is to inspect what was accomplished in the Sprint and adapt the product backlog if needed. This is done by checking the increment and discussing what could be done better in future sprints. The increment is demonstrated and accepted or rejected. If it is not “done”, it is brought back into the product backlog and refined.
The sprint review meeting is time-boxed to four hours for a one-month sprint. For shorter sprints, the time-box is proportionately reduced. The Development Team demonstrates its “work” and answers questions about the increment. The Product Owner reviews the increment to ensure that what was delivered is usable, meets stakeholders’ needs, and can be potentially released. Based on this inspection, the Product Owner may refine items in the product backlog.
The Sprint Review is a meeting and the presentation of the increment can be done in many different ways. All stakeholders collaborate on what was learned in the Sprint and identify improvements that could be made in the product or the process. These improvements are added to the product backlog for consideration in future sprints.
The sprint Retrospective Meeting
The sprint retrospective meeting is held at the end of each Sprint to inspect how the last Sprint went regarding people, relationships, processes, and tools. Also, to identify and order the major items that went well and those that need improvement. This information provides input for continual improvement of the scrum process. The time-box for this meeting is three hours for a one-month sprint. For shorter sprints, the time-box is proportionately reduced.
The Development Team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master all participate in the retrospective. The objective is to identify continuous process improvement items and use those items to make the next Sprint even more productive. The three main questions that are addressed are:
• What went well during the Sprint?
• What problems were encountered, and how did we solve them?
• What can we improve for the next Sprint?
The Sprint Retrospective is an informal meeting and can be conducted in many different ways. The answers to these questions are used to generate a list of improvements which is then prioritized. The top items on this list become action items for the next Sprint.
The Product Backlog Refinement Meeting
Product backlog refinement is adding detail, estimates, and orders to items in the product backlog. This refined content becomes more detailed as it moves up on the product backlog prioritization list.
The Product Owner and Development Team will cooperate on what level of detail is appropriate for each item in the product backlog. An item’s refinement needs to be balanced with the need for detailed planning. Over-refinement can lead to extra work and waste if plans change or unanticipated issues arise.
Refinement usually occurs during sprint planning but can also happen at any time during the Sprint. Suppose items in the product backlog must be refined outside sprint planning. In that case, it is best to do this in a separate meeting so that refinement does not take away from valuable sprint planning time.
The Sprint Planning Meeting
Sprint planning is a time-boxed event lasting no more than eight hours for a one-month sprint. For shorter sprints, the time-box is proportionately reduced. The Development Team and Product Owner collaborate on what can be delivered in the upcoming Sprint. This is done by inspecting the product backlog and estimating each item’s relative size.
The Development Team should understand what it can complete in the Sprint and should not overcommit itself. The Development Team then decides which items to select for the Sprint (usually based on prioritization set by the Product Owner). Once the Development Team has selected the items, they break them down into smaller tasks and assign them to team members.
The Sprint planning meeting is attended by the Development Team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master. The Product Owner presents the items in the product backlog that they feel need work in the subsequent Sprint. The Development Team then decides which items it can complete during the Sprint.
Once the Development Team has committed, the Sprint planning meeting is completed and everyone knows what needs to be accomplished in the Sprint.
The Daily Scrum Meeting
The daily Scrum is a time-boxed event lasting no more than fifteen minutes. The Development Team meets at the same time and place to discuss what has been accomplished since the last daily Scrum.
- The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect its progress toward the sprint goal and adapt its plans accordingly. The Scrum Master ensures that the meeting stays within the time-box and that everyone has a chance to speak.
Agile vs. Scrum
The agile vs. scrum debate has been around for some time now. Both agile and Scrum are popular project management approaches, but they have their distinct philosophies and processes. So, what’s the difference between agile and Scrum?
Agile is a set of principles and values emphasizing collaboration, customer focus, adaptability, and flexibility. Agile frameworks like Scrum provide a structure for implementing these principles in a project.
Scrum is the most popular agile framework. It’s an iterative and incremental approach to software development that emphasizes teamwork, customer involvement, and continuous improvement.
So, while Agile and Scrum share some commonalities, there are also some key differences. The main difference is that Agile is a set of principles, while Scrum is a framework for implementing those principles.
If you’re trying to decide which approach is right for your project, it’s essential to understand agile and Scrum. That way, you can make an informed decision about which one will work better for your specific needs.
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