This article is designed to provide a quick primer for individuals who are new to the Scrum framework and want to know how to get started. We will cover the basics of Scrum, including how it compares to waterfall development and the key roles, artifacts, and ceremonies that make up the framework.
Scrum vs. Waterfall Development
Waterfall development is a traditional approach that involves a lengthy planning process followed by building, testing, reviewing, and eventually deploying the product. However, this approach can lead to delays and may result in bringing the wrong product to market due to changes in market demand or technology.
In contrast, Scrum breaks the process into smaller pieces, with just enough planning to get started on building the minimal feature set. The process is repeated in increments of 1 to 3 weeks until the product is complete, reducing the time from planning to development to testing.
Key Roles in Scrum
There are three key roles in Scrum that are necessary for the framework to work effectively. The product owner is responsible for defining the features that are needed in the product, while the Scrum master serves as a servant leader to the team, running meetings and ensuring the process runs smoothly.
The team consists of developers, testers, writers, and anyone else who contributes to building the product, with team members often playing multiple roles.
Scrum involves three main artifacts or documents that are used to manage the process. The product backlog is a prioritized list of features known as user stories, which specifies the right amount of detail for the team to estimate the size of the task.
The highest priority user stories go into the Sprint backlog, which gets estimated for size and is committed to for the next Sprint. Burn Down charts show the progress during a Sprint on the completion of tasks in the Sprint backlog, with the chart approaching zero points as the work is being completed.
Scrum Workflow and Ceremonies:
Scrum is a framework used for agile software development that relies on a set of ceremonies and artifacts to manage the workflow. The framework consists of three ceremonies that are essential for managing the workflow.
The first ceremony is Sprint planning, where the product owner, Scrum Master, and team gather to discuss the user stories and estimate their relative sizes. The team prioritizes the top user stories and determines what can be accomplished in the next Sprint.
The output of the Sprint planning meeting is the Sprint backlog, which is a list of user stories that the team has committed to for the next Sprint.
The second ceremony is the Daily Scrum, which is a brief stand-up meeting where the team discusses what they have completed since the previous meeting, what they’re currently working on, and any blockers or help needed. The Daily Scrum helps the team to stay on track and keep up with the progress of the Sprint.
Sprint Review and Retrospective:
The third ceremony is the Sprint review and retrospective, which occurs at the end of the Sprint. The team demonstrates the completed work to the product owner, and then they discuss what they can do to improve the process going forward. The retrospective is where the team works on what they can do to improve their process.
The Scrum workflow begins with the product backlog, where the product owner builds a list of bright ideas and features that could go into the product. The product owner prioritizes the list and brings the top items to the team. During the Sprint, the team works on the user stories committed to the Sprint backlog until completion.
At the end of the Sprint, a potentially shippable product is created. The Sprint review is where the team showcases their work to the product owner, and the retrospective is where they work on improving their process. The workflow is repeated for each Sprint until the project is completed.
To better manage the workflow and the ceremonies, a utility has been built around the Scrum process to help people filling the three Scrum roles manage the three artifacts and better run the three ceremonies. The utility helps streamline the process and makes it easier for the team to manage their work.
Here are some examples of how Scrum can be applied in different industries and projects:
Software Development: Scrum is commonly used in software development to manage projects and teams. The product owner creates a backlog of features, the development team commits to completing a set of these features in a sprint, and the Scrum Master facilitates daily stand-up meetings, sprint reviews, and retrospectives.
Marketing: A marketing team can use Scrum to manage a campaign by defining a backlog of tasks, such as creating content, running advertisements, and analyzing metrics. The team can then plan sprints to complete specific tasks, and hold daily meetings to stay on track.
Education: Scrum can be applied in an educational setting, where a teacher can act as the Scrum Master and students as the development team. The product owner can define learning objectives and the team can plan sprints to complete specific assignments or projects, holding daily stand-up meetings to discuss progress and roadblocks.
Healthcare: Scrum can be used in healthcare to manage patient care, where the product owner is the patient and the development team consists of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The team can use Scrum to plan treatments, track progress, and adjust care plans based on patient feedback.
Event Planning: Scrum can be used in event planning to manage a conference, concert or festival. The product owner can define the event’s goals and requirements, the team can plan sprints to complete specific tasks such as booking performers, managing vendors, and promoting the event, and hold daily meetings to stay on track.
By following the Scrum framework, teams can work more efficiently and effectively, delivering a potentially shippable product in a shorter time frame. With just enough planning to get started on building the minimal feature set and the use of key roles and artifacts, Scrum can help teams to manage projects and achieve their goals.