Scrum

What Is Scrum?

 Scrum is an agile framework designed to manage the complex work of software and product development. Though it might seem like a relatively new idea, teams and organizations have been using Scrum since the 1990s. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland describe Scrum like this:

Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.

Scrum is:

  • Lightweight
  • Simple to understand
  • Extremely difficult to master

How Does Scrum Work?

Scrum relies on a fixed cadence of iterative cycles called sprints. Each sprint begins with a planning meeting and ends with a demonstration of potentially shippable product. Scrum is characterized by a high level of feedback and transparency, both within the team and outside of it. Its short cycles and collaborative nature make it ideal for projects with rapidly changing and/or highly emergent requirements.

Scrum is built on five core values: focus, courage, commitment, openness, and respect. Scrum has three distinct roles: Scrum Master, product owner, and team. Scrum is not an artifact-heavy process, but three artifacts are crucial to success: sprint backlog, product backlog, and burndown charts. Scrum is organized into four key activities that occur during every sprint: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective. Most teams also add product backlog refinement, a form of continuous release planning, to each sprint.

Implementing Scrum

Scrum is elegantly deceptive. It is one of the easiest frameworks to understand yet is one of the hardest frameworks to implement well. Scrum’s inherent simplicity can make it seem easy to do, when in reality it can take years to master. Why? Because implementing Scrum correctly requires teams and organizations to make changes in the way they work and think about work:

  • Develop an understanding of Scrum's underlying values
  • Undergo a shift in mindset
  • Plan for change to occur--and adapt when it does
  • Deal with newly exposed or emerging issues
  • Incorporate agile engineering practices, including XP

Read on to find out more about Scrum's sprint cycle. Or to get a more in-depth look at Scrum, Agile, XP and more, consider attending a public or private course.