Introduction to Scrum

In the previous article, we have discussed the difference between the agile and waterfall approach, the 4 key values of agile and how agile was formed. In this article, we will introduce one of the widely adopted agile methodologies known as Scrum. But before that, let’s understand the difference between Scrum and Agile.

The different Agile methodologies

Agile by itself is not a methodology as it does not provide any methods or procedures, instead it provides a set of values and principles for us to use as a guide. There are a number of methodologies that teams can use to follow the Agile principles and values. The figure below shows some of the widely adopted methodologies such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, Lean, Kanban, SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) and DSDM (Dynamic System Development Method). The Agile in this case can be thought as an “umbrella term” for all of the frameworks and methodologies.

Figure 1: Agile methodologies

The methodologies on the left are considered as the “lightweight” Agile approach and it is typically use in the development of products or services and in managing smaller projects. Scrum falls under the lightweight approach. On the other hand, the ones on the right are considered as the more “extensive” Agile approach, and it is usually being used to manage bigger projects as it provides more control and structured approach.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a framework that helps people, teams and organizations create value through adaptive solutions. It provides powerful methods and process to get tasks done. Scrum works in an iterative and incremental manner, it doesn’t require intensive documentation of details and plans to start a project or to develop a product. With Scrum, the process or project is broken up into smaller pieces and the team only needs to do just enough planning to get started with building a minimum feature set in short cycle called “Sprint”. Each sprint can produce a potentially shippable product that can be released to the end user to collect feedback to further develop the product. This cycle is repeated until the product is fully developed. The figure below illustrates how Scrum approach works in developing a product:

Figure 2: Scrum product development illustration

The methodologies on the left are considered as the “lightweight” Agile approach and it is typically use in the development of products or services and in managing smaller projects. Scrum falls under the lightweight approach. On the other hand, the ones on the right are considered as the more “extensive” Agile approach, and it is usually being used to manage bigger projects as it provides more control and structured approach.

The 3 Key Roles in Scrum:

Scrum is a very simple and lightweight approach, it only contains 3 key roles which are the Product Owner, Scrum Master and the Team Members.

  • Product Owner is the person that defines the features of the product or what product the team is building.
  • Team Member is any individual which is involve in the development of the product. It can consist of individuals from different departments or work functions, such as IT executive, quality assurance manager, software developer and others.
  • Scrum Master is the servant leader of the team. He/she is tasked with the role of leading the team to ensure that the product or project can be delivered in the agile approach.

The Artifacts in Scrum:

It is also important to know that there are usually 3 artifacts in Scrum.

  • Product Backlog is basically a list of prioritized features (or user stories) that could go into the product in the case of product development, or prioritized list of tasks that are required to deliver a project. The product backlog is not fixed, after each sprint the team can add/edit/remove the tasks or features.
  • Sprint Backlog contains the highest priorities of tasks or features from the product backlog that need to be completed within the sprint (typically 1 – 3 weeks).
  • Burndown Chart is used to track and estimate the effort remaining for the tasks in a particular sprint. Ideally by end of each sprint, the burndown chart should reach 0 which means all tasks have been completed within the sprint.

The Ceremonies in Scrum:

The ceremonies here basically stand for meeting or discussion. For Scrum you should know these important ceremonies.

  • Sprint Planning is when all 3 roles (Scrum master, product owner and team members) meet to discuss the tasks/features, and then include those with highest priorities in the sprint backlog.
  • For Daily Scrum, the team will gather everyday (around 15 mins) to discuss about the progress towards the sprint goal, obstacles in completing the sprint, or adjusting the sprint backlog if necessary.
  • for Sprint Review & Sprint Retrospect which happen at the end of each sprint, all team members will demonstrate the tasks/features that they have completed and discuss what they think they can do to improve for the following sprints.

Example of Scrum in practice:

Now that we have learned some of the important aspects and components of Scrum, let’s bring it all together and look at the Scrum workflow. It all starts with the Product Backlog, where the product owner will present all of the prioritized features and tasks to the team. Collectively, during the Sprint Planning the team then will discuss and select the items with the highest priority to go into the Sprint Backlog. During the Sprint (1 – 3 weeks), the team will work on completing the tasks in the sprint backlog and discuss about the progress, obstacles or make necessary adjustment during the Daily Scrum (daily standup).

Last but not least, the Sprint Review & Sprint Retrospect will take place to close the sprint. At the end of every sprint, there can also be a Potential Shippable Product (with minimum feature set) that can be released to the end user. All the above process will be repeated in cycles until the project or product is completed.

If you are interested to learn more about the knowledge and approach of Scrum, feel free to contact us at info@cybiant.com or chat with us on our website.