What is Scrum?
Keeping track of every little task and to-do item within a production cycle is no small feat. Today’s technology and development teams are responsible for completing hundreds of different tasks in order to launch new products, updates, and continuously improve their user experience. Now imagine now trying to manage this daunting list of what’s been completed, what’s being worked on, and what still needs to be done – all with a clear understanding of the complete product, company goals, and what users are wanting from you.
To make matters more complicated, a team’s typical production cycle is made up of many moving pieces, each being worked on by different teams and team members. Priorities change, incidents happen, and team members must react quickly in order to maintain a reliable product and loyal users. So how are teams able to manage production complex production workflows in a way that is flexible while ensuring high accuracy and quick deployments?
For many, the answer is Scrum.
In this article, we will take a closer look at what defines Scrum, including the different team roles, key Scrum artifacts/KPIs, and the five essential Scrum ceremonies/events that take place.
Scrum is a popular agile framework used by many tech and software development companies for product development. As the products and services being built become increasingly complex, agile methodologies have taken over as a way to manage production cycles more efficiently and with increased speed and flexibility.
Scrum is the most dominant agile project management framework with nearly 60 percent of organizations using Scrum for managing their development cycles. Another almost 20 percent use scrum in combination with other agile frameworks like Kanban. That adds up to a staggering 8/10 companies who use scrum in some way or another. But why?
The Scrum methodology relies on close collaboration and communication between key Scrum team members with a shared product vision. These roles work together through a series of sprints (a set of tasks to be completed during a predetermined time frame) intended to constantly move the product backlog forward and add consistent improvements to a product or service.
By emphasizing collaboration and flexibility, Scrum helps to shorten production feedback loops and allow teams to focus more on innovation and creating products their users (and ultimately stakeholders) will love.
What are the Primary Scrum Roles?
Well-defined roles and responsibilities are critical to the success of the Scrum framework. There is no more working in silos with Scrum. Each role has its own unique purpose and must collaborate and communicate closely with the other roles. There are three essential scrum roles, including the Scrum Master, the Product Owner/Stakeholder, and the Development Team.
The Scrum Master
The Scrum Master is like the glue that keeps the scrum team together and on track. They are the project manager and are in charge of making sure the whole team understands the product vision and what is being worked on. The Scrum Master leads all scrum ceremonies and meetings, and is in charge of managing all sprints and the product backlog.
The Scrum Product Owner/Stakeholder
The Product Owner (or Stakeholder) is responsible for setting a clear direction for a given product or service. They define the product vision that will be shared among the entire team, and must effectively communicate the users’ values and what they’re wanting from the product.
The Scrum Development Team
The Development Team is the Scrum workhorse – the ones responsible for the actual development or creation of the product. While this primarily includes software developers, a Scrum Development Team may also consist of other team members working on the product, such as UX/UI designers and/or copywriters.
What is a Scrum Artifact?
A Scrum Artifact refers to key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to monitor and improve the effectiveness of a team’s production cycle. These different metrics help to guide the development team while keeping stakeholders informed about how different tasks are progressing over time.
The 7 most important Scrum Artifacts to monitor are:
- Product Vision: Defines the overall “vision” or long-term goal of the product. The product vision should be kept clear and concise as it must be easily understood among all team members.
- Sprint Goal: The specific objective that guides each individual sprint. The sprint goal should set clear expectations for work to be completed by development during a specified chunk of time.
- Product Backlog: The complete list of tasks and requirements for a given project or product. The Product Backlog should accurately represent how things are progressing overall.
- Sprint Backlog: The list of Product Backlog items that are being worked on during the individual sprint.
- DOD (Definition of Done): A shared set of rules for determining when an item can be marked complete or declared done.
- Increment: The completed list of items from the Sprint Backlog once declared done.
- Burndown Chart: A graphical representation of how a specific project is progressing overtime – eventually “burning down” to zero.
What is a Scrum Ceremony?
With all the moving pieces, Scrum Ceremonies are designed to keep things organized and ensure all team members are on the same page. A Scrum Ceremony is a specific event or meeting that is held at key points throughout production.
There are 5 main Scrum Ceremonies, including:
- Sprint Planning: A 1-2 hour meeting held before every sprint in order to set a clear objective and determine the Sprint Backlog. Includes all Scrum team roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development).
- Daily Stand-Up/Scrum: A quick meeting (typically no more than 20 minutes) usually held at the beginning of the day for a high level review of the product backlog. Includes all Scrum team roles.
- The Sprint: Though not technically its own ceremony, sprints allow teams to focus on completing specific chunks of work during a given timeframe (days, weeks, months).
- Sprint/Iteration Review: A meeting held at the end of a sprint to review and showcase the completed work. Reviews should be no longer than 4 hours. Includes all Scrum team roles, as well as other team members working on the project.
- Retrospective: A meeting held at the end of a sprint to review processes and identify any areas for improvement. Includes all Scrum team roles.
The Benefits of Scrum
Scrum allows tech and software development teams to simplify complex production workflows through increased communication and collaboration and a more flexible and adaptive approach. With a focus on continuous improvement, Scrum’s agile framework works to increase the speed and accuracy of a team’s workflow, allowing them to focus more on innovation and creating a seamless experience for the user.