How Does Scrum Work?
Scrum is a hugely popular way to manage projects. In this article, we investigate how it works so that we can understand more about why it is so effective.
Although Scrum is known for its flexibility, it does have a set of supports that practitioners can use to structure their project work. Let’s take a look at some of these supports.
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Completely New to Scrum?
If you’re only beginning to learn about Scrum, why not take 5 minutes to read our article, “What is Scrum?” before diving into more detail with this article.
In our “What is Scrum?” article, we cover the origins of this methodology, the benefits of using Scrum, and the difference between Scrum and Agile.
3 Pillars of Scrum
Before we look at the details of how a Scrum project works, let’s become familiar with the foundation upon which every Scrum project is built: The 3 Pillars of Scrum.
These pillars can also be referred to as “Empirical Process Control” or the “Ideas of Scrum”. They are:
Everyone in the organisation, both in and outside the Scrum Team can see what’s happening in the Scrum project. This creates opportunities for collaboration and for finding smarter solutions.
It also provides everyone with a clear picture of progress and gives visibility on any obstacles.
The Inspection pillar ties into continuous improvement, which is an important characteristic of Scrum. Throughout the Scrum Cycle, there are many opportunities for inspection of the work, methods, and deliverables.
Through this inspection, the team can reflect upon what’s working and what’s not working. They can then build on this learning to continually work smarter and more effectively.
As with all Agile frameworks, Scrum welcomes change. The ability to respond quickly and positively to changing requirements is often the main reason businesses and project teams choose to work with Scrum.
Through the pillar of Adaptation, the Scrum Team and other stakeholders maintain a close eye on opportunities for improvement.
The Scrum Cycle
Each Sprint within a Scrum project follows the Scrum Cycle - a logical process that optimises productivity.
Every Scrum Cycle follows the following steps:
1. Project Vision:
Before work can begin, a Project Vision
must be created. This happens during the initiation phase, and the Project Vision Statement serves as a focus point
for the Sprint and the Scrum Team.
2. Product Backlog:
Using the Project Vision, the Scrum Product Owner will create the Prioritised Product Backlog
, which is a list of requirements. These are usually in the form of User Stories (see below)
3. Sprint Planning Meeting:
The Scrum Team kick off the Sprint
with a Sprint Planning Meeting. During this meeting, the team will consider the User Stories from the Prioritised Product Backlog and decide what can be achieved
during the Sprint.
4. Daily Standup Meetings:
Throughout the Sprint, the team shares progress, roadblocks, and plans
through the Daily Standup Meeting. This is also an excellent, focused platform for sharing ideas and solutions
5. Sprint Review Meeting:
As the end of each Sprint draws near, the Scrum Product Owner
(customers etc.) attend the Sprint Review Meeting.
At this meeting, the team presents the deliverables
for review. The Scrum Product Owner will only accept these deliverables if they meet the project’s predefined acceptance criteria
6. Retrospect Sprint Meeting:
The Retrospect Sprint Meeting happens at the end of the Sprint
. It’s an essential part of the Scrum approach, as this is when the team reflect and find opportunities for improvement
What is a “User Story”?
User stories are requirements for a project. They are structured in a simple, high-level way and explain the “who, what and why” of a requirement.
The Scrum Team
A Scrum Team is self-organised and cross functional. Every member of the Scrum Team is essential for delivering results during the Sprint. The roles and responsibilities for each member are clearly outlined.
Scrum Product Owner (SPO)
The Scrum Product Owner (SPO) serves as the voice of the customer. They communicate continuously with both the customer and the Scrum Team, helping to prioritise requirements while remaining focused on the goals of the Sprint.
Scrum Master (SM)
Perhaps the best-known of all Scrum Team roles, the Scrum Master supports the Scrum team members, working to create an ideal Scrum environment for productivity. The Scrum Master removes any obstacles and protects the team from distractions.
Learn more about the role of Scrum Master
Scrum Team Members / Scrum Developers (SD)
Sometimes called a Scrum Developer (a hangover from the early days in software development), a Scrum Team member works on creating the deliverables or product.
The Role of Stakeholders
We include project stakeholders as an extended part of the Scrum Team in Scrum projects.
Stakeholders (customers, business owners etc.) play a very important and engaged role throughout a Scrum project. There is a high level of involvement at each stage. This means that stakeholders can influence the direction of the Sprint as it progresses.
The 5 Values of Scrum
Everything a Scrum Team does should be guided by the 5 Values of Scrum.
As Scrum depends on strong, self-organising teams, each member of the team must respect
that their team-mates are responsible and capable
within their roles.
Sprints are intensive periods of productivity with clearly defined goals. The Scrum Team must remain focused on the goals of the Sprint
at all times.
Linking in with the pillar of Transparency
, openness is a critical part of every Sprint. The team need to be clear about what’s happening at every step of the way, and be open to sharing
challenges, receiving feedback, and trying new solutions.
In order for a Scrum Team to function at its optimum level
, every member must be committed
to achieving the goals of each Sprint.
There is no sticking your head in the sand during a Scrum project! The team uphold this value by having the courage to tackle tricky problems
that may crop up.
As you’ll see from our outline of the Scrum Cycle above, the events in a Sprint are essential for keeping everything moving and focused.
This happens at the start of each Sprint. All team members meet to discuss what can be achieved during the upcoming Sprint. They agree on deliverables and responsibilities.
Daily Standup Meeting
The Sprint is now in progress! Every day, the Scrum team have a daily Standup Meeting. This is a short meeting (maximum 15 minutes), where each team member focuses on the following key questions:
- What did I do yesterday?
- What am I doing today?
- What obstacles are in my way?
At the end of the Sprint, the Scrum team meets with the key stakeholders (Scrum Product Owner and customers) to present the deliverables. They receive feedback from the customer, which may influence the next Sprint.
Continuous improvement is a key part of Scrum project management. The Sprint retrospective facilitates time for the Scrum Team to look back on the previous sprint and evaluate what worked, and what can be improved upon in the next Sprint.
Scrum artifacts are items which provide data on the progress and productivity of each Sprint. These could include:
- Product Backlog
- Sprint Backlog
- Scrum Board
- Burn-down Chart
Scrum Artifacts play a very important role in upholding the pillars of Transparency and Inspection.
How Can You Introduce a Scrum Approach?
Like many of the most effective frameworks, although Scrum sounds very simple and straightforward on the surface, you’ll need understanding, commitment, and practice to really master it.
It takes time and practice to really master how to estimate what you can accomplish. It takes commitment to adhere to the daily stand-up, and maintain focus. It takes understanding to fully grasp what you need to implement, and more importantly how to implement it correctly.
That’s where training can help...
Benefits of Scrum Training
The combination of theoretical and practical learning during our Scrum training courses ensures that you will gain confidence in your ability to both understand and apply Scrum processes within any project environment.
In addition, all of our Scrum courses include examination and international certification costs, so that you take away a solid, recognised qualification in scrum.
Click below to visit our Scrum Master Certified webpage, and kick off your Scrum training. You can also click below to download our complete guide to Scrum.