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A brief overview of Scrum

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In this brief overview of Scrum, we introduce you to the Scrum Framework, roles within the Scrum methodology, and briefly touch on some of the key elements of Scrum.

Scrum is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. It is used mostly for product development in a software development environment. Although Scrum has gained the most traction in the technology sector, it is not innately technical, and you can quite easily adapt its tools and techniques in most other industries.

A Scrum team usually consists of three to nine members who work together in short bursts of productive activity called Sprints. Unlike more traditional project management methods, in Scrum, there is no need for a task manager, team lead or product manager.

First, let’s have a look at the three main roles that make up a typical Scrum Team:

Scrum Product Owner

The Scrum Product Owner is accountable for product success. They determine what needs to be done and set priorities that deliver the highest value. A Product Owner holds the vision for the product and broadly controls the work.

He or she needs to know precisely what the product or project needs are, why those components are significant, and deliver against those priorities and objectives.

The Product Owner is the face of the project and must act as an expert guide to the overall project Scrum team. They are actively involved throughout the entire Scrum process and as such, must exercise self-discipline to avoid ‘micro-managing’ the Development team’s tasks.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master’s role is defined by many aspects, but for the purpose of this article, let’s establish two of the more definitive elements:

1.      The protector of the team

The first part of the Scrum Master’s role is being the protector of the team. He or she makes sure that everyone working on the project, especially the Development Team, can focus without any distractions. As mentioned above, the Product Owner might overstep boundaries and try to dictate the work approach to the development team.

2.      The protector of the process

The second part of the Scrum Master’s role is to protect the Scrum process. They are the expert of Scrum itself – they should know the ins and outs of how it works and how it should be applied. The Scrum Master makes sure that both the Product Owner and the Development Team stay within the framework. This also means that they’re able to coach other members of the team on how to use the framework in its most effective way.

Development Team

As mentioned in the very brief overview of Scrum introduction. A Scrum team usually consists of three to nine members. Within a Software development environment, this usually consists of Software Architects, Software Testers, Software Developers and Designers – The team works collectively in order to achieve their goals. What they work on is determined by the priority originally established by the Product Owner. The way the work is merely guided by the process, which is monitored by the Scrum Master. The rest is up to them to manage. They are wholly autonomous in this regard with the Scrum Master providing as much support, backing them if you will, to allow this to happen. This level of independence is the foundation to Scrum. In a way, they are left to their own devices to complete whatever work they take on in their field of expertise. This helps to create a highly positive, self-managing environment.

Now let’s take a brief look at the practical elements within the Scrum process:

Product Backlog

The product backlog is a list of items ordered for development– this contains the desired features or changes to the product. It contains short descriptions of each feature. The owner of this list is the Product Owner. The aspects that differentiate it from a traditional to-do-list are as follows:

  • An entry in the product backlog must always add value for the customer
  • The amount of detail depends on the position of the entry within the Product Backlog
  • All entries have an estimation
  • There are no low-level-tasks within the Product Backlog

Sprints

Definition: A Scrum Sprint is a regular, repeatable work cycle in Scrum the framework, during which work is completed and made ready for review. Scrum Sprints are basic units of development in the Scrum framework. Generally, Sprints are a calendar month or less.

Scrumguides.org, summarises it well: “The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. Sprints have consistent durations throughout a development effort. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint. Sprints contain and consist of the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.”

Taking the title of this article into consideration, we’re only scratching the surface here. There is a lot more to it and a lot more terminology to understand but hopefully, this gives you a decent understanding of the overall process of Scrum. If you’d like to find out more, visit our website – our experienced trainers deliver world-class training that is relevant, immersive and highly interactive.