what is scrum?

What is Scrum? (Your 5-Minute Guide)

With its massive growth in popularity over the past 10 years, you may have found yourself typing “what is Scrum?” into Google, wondering how on earth rugby teams are related to project management.

We have created this article to answer that question, filling you in on the benefits of Scrum, giving you an overview of how Scrum works, and pointing you in the right direction for getting started.

In each section, we've included links to articles that explore that area in more detail. You can treat this article as an overview of Scrum, with branches into more in-depth information.

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What is Scrum?

Scrum is a framework for implementing the principles of Agile project management.

It’s a way of executing a project that enables frequent value delivery, plenty of collaboration between the Scrum team and stakeholders, and responds positively and easily to changing requirements.

Scrum divides a project into a series of manageable chunks called “sprints”. A sprint is a short cycle of productivity, usually between 1 and 4 weeks.

The goal is to deliver value to the customer or key stakeholders at the end of each sprint.

Scrum is a way of working smarter, not harder!

New to Agile?

New to Agile?

If you're not familiar with Agile project management, why not take a look at our article, "What is Agile?".

7 Benefits of Scrum

We get into these benefits in more detail in our article, 7 Benefits of Scrum, but here's a high-level look at some of the major benefits you'll gain by adopting a Scrum approach.

  • Responsiveness

    Scrum is a project management framework that welcomes and thrives on change. It can handle changing requirements throughout the project's lifecycle.
  • Inspection

    "Inspection" means evaluating and improving. Dedicated time is given at the end of every productivity cycle (sprint) to review what works and what can be improved.
  • Transparency

    Scrum promotes a high level of visibility on task progression and activities. This reduces the risk of duplication and miscommunication.
  • Collaboration

    The Scrum Team has a culture of sharing ideas and working together to find the best solution for any obstacle.
  • Communication

    Continuous communication within the team and with project stakeholders is an important characteristic of Scrum project management.
  • Value Delivery

    The way that Scrum is structured enables teams to deliver value to the customer both early and frequently in a project's life cycle.
  • Lower Risk

    Each characteristic of Scrum lowers the risk of any project. Everyone has visibility and the team can respond well to changing requirements.

Origins of Scrum

Like Agile, Scrum originated in the software development industry. In the early 90s, Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, and Mike Beedle read an article called “The New New Product Development Game”.

This article, written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in 1986, outlined the benefits of self-organising teams in the game of rugby.

Schwaber, Beedle, and Sutherland were inspired by this comparison and brought this concept into software development, first applying their Scrum methods to a project in 1993.

What is the Difference Between Scrum and Agile?

It’s easy to become confused between Scrum and Agile.

You’ll often find these terms listed together and used interchangeably. This can make it difficult to determine what each term means and how it might apply to you.

Agile is a methodology - a set of principles and values for incremental project management. Scrum is a framework you use to implement Agile.

Andrew Littlefield gives a great example in “Beginner’s Guide to Scrum and Agile Project Management”. He compares Agile to a vegetarian diet, and Scrum to a recipe for chickpea tacos - a way to follow a vegetarian diet.

Want to Dig a Little Deeper?

You can learn more by reading our article, Agile vs Scrum.
how scrum works

How Does Scrum Work?

Scrum has a foundation of 3 pillars or characteristics: transparency, adaption, and inspection. From here, we build a Scrum project on several elements.

Shorter Project Times

Scrum project cycles are called “Sprints”. These shorter cycles usually take between 2 and 4 weeks.

The flexible nature of Scrum ensures that Sprints can last longer if needed, but most teams try to keep shorter cycle times for maximum efficiency.

Structured Roles

As this is a team-centric approach to managing projects, the effectiveness of a Scrum project is very closely related to the structure of the team.

The Scrum Team is made up of the Scrum Product Owner (stakeholder, voice of the customer), the Scrum Master (facilitator, mentor), and the Scrum Developers (creators of the deliverables).

Regular Events

Scrum Events keep the project momentum steady and support the team in adhering to those important pillars of Scrum.

Events include the Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Retrospective.

Rules and Documents

Scrum Rules and “Artifacts” are also crucial in helping the team apply Scrum correctly.

Artifacts are items that the team use to apply Scrum, such as the Scrum Board, Burn-down Chart and Sprint Backlog.

Getting Started with Scrum Project Management

If Scrum is a subject you’re interested in, you'll find it’s one of the most accessible areas for training and certification.

We offer online Scrum courses for every role within the Scrum Team. Here’s what you can expect from all of our courses:

  • Self-Led: Start whenever you’re ready and learn at your own pace.
  • Plenty of Time: You’ll have 180 days of unlimited access to our Scrum online learning platform.
  • High Quality Materials: Learn through informative videos, chapter tests, an interactive case study, and a PDF copy of A Guide to the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOKTM Guide).
  • Online Exam: You schedule your exam when you feel ready. Take the exam from the comfort of your home.
  • International Certification: All of our Scrum courses lead to and include the cost of respected international certification.
Learn More

Learn more about our online Agile and Scrum courses

Find out how our courses work and choose from Scrum Developer, Scrum Product Owner, and Scrum Master training and certification.

A Complete Scrum Master Certification Solution
Online Scrum Master Training

  • Format: Self-led Online
  • Includes: Training + Exam + Certification
  • Price: €399
  • Certification: International SMCTM
  • Location: Connect from Anywhere

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