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Scrum Methodology

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an iterative, incremental methodology for project management often seen in agile software development, a type of software engineering.

Rather than a full process or methodology, it is a framework. So instead of providing complete, detailed descriptions of how everything is to be done on the project, much is left up to the software development team. This is done because the team will know best how to solve the problem they are presented. This is why, for example, a sprint planning meeting is described in terms of the desired outcome (a commitment to set of features to be developed in the next sprint) instead of a set of Entry criteria, Task definitions, Validation criteria, and Exit criteria (ETVX) as would be provided in most methodologies.

Scrum relies on a self-organizing, cross-functional team. The scrum team is self-organizing in that there is no overall team leader who decides which person will do which task or how a problem will be solved. Those are issues that are decided by the team as a whole. The team is cross-functional so that everyone necessary to take a feature from idea to implementation is involved.

What are the main activities in Scrum?

The primary artifact of a Scrum project is, of course, the product itself. The team is expected to bring the product or system to a potentially shippable state at the end of each sprint.

In agile development, the product backlog is a complete list of the functionality that remains to be added to the product. The product backlog is prioritized by the product owner so that the team always works on the most valuable features first. The most popular and successful way to create a product backlog is to populate it with user stories, which are short descriptions of functionality described from the perspective of a user or customer.

On the first day of a sprint and during the sprint planning meeting, team members create the sprint backlog. The sprint backlog can be thought of as the team’s to-do list for the sprint. Whereas a product backlog is a list of features to be built (often written in the form of user stories), the sprint backlog is the list of tasks the team needs to perform in order to deliver the functionality they committed to deliver during the sprint.

Two other primary artifacts are the sprint burndown chart and release burndown chart. Burndown charts show the amount of work remaining either in a sprint or a release. They are a very effective tool for determining at a glance whether a sprint or release is on schedule to have all planned work finished by the desired date.

What are the main artifacts of a Scrum project?

The primary artifact of a Scrum project is, of course, the product itself. The team is expected to bring the product or system to a potentially shippable state at the end of each sprint.

The product backlog is a complete list of the functionality that remains to be added to the product. The product backlog is prioritized by the product owner so that the team always works on the most valuable features first. The most popular and successful way to create a product backlog is to populate it with user stories, which are short descriptions of functionality described from the perspective of a user or customer.

On the first day of a sprint and during the sprint planning meeting, team members create the sprint backlog. The sprint backlog can be thought of as the team’s to-do list for the sprint. Whereas a product backlog is a list of features to be built (often written in the form of user stories), the sprint backlog is the list of tasks the team needs to perform in order to deliver the functionality they committed to deliver during the sprint.

Two other primary artifacts are the sprint burndown chart and release burndown chart. Burndown charts show the amount of work remaining either in a sprint or a release. They are a very effective tool for determining at a glance whether a sprint or release is on schedule to have all planned work finished by the desired date.

What are the main roles on a Scrum team?

Scrum teams consist of three core roles and a range of ancillary roles—core roles are often referred to as pigs and ancillary roles as chickens after the story The Chicken and the Pig.

Core Scrum roles

The core roles in Scrum teams are those committed to the project in the Scrum process—they are the ones producing the product (objective of the project).

Product Owner
The Product Owner represents the voice of the customer and is accountable for ensuring that the Team delivers value to the business. The Product Owner writes customer-centric items (typically user stories), prioritizes them, and adds them to the product backlog. Scrum teams should have one Product Owner, and while they may also be a member of the Development Team, it is recommended that this role not be combined with that of ScrumMaster.
Team
The Team is responsible for delivering the product. A Team is typically made up of 5–9 people with cross-functional skills who do the actual work (analyse, design, develop, test, technical communication, document, etc.). It is recommended that the Team be self-organizing and self-led, but often work with some form of project or team management.
ScrumMaster
Scrum is facilitated by a ScrumMaster, also written as Scrum Master, who is accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the sprint goal/deliverables. The ScrumMaster is not the team leader but acts as a buffer between the team and any distracting influences. The ScrumMaster ensures that the Scrum process is used as intended. The ScrumMaster is the enforcer of rules. A key part of the ScrumMaster’s role is to protect the team and keep them focused on the tasks in hand. The role has also been referred to as servant-leader to reinforce these dual perspectives.
Ancillary Scrum roles

The ancillary roles in Scrum teams are those with no formal role and infrequent involvement in the Scrum process—and must nonetheless be taken into account.

Stakeholders (customers, vendors)
These are the people who enable the project and for whom the project will produce the agreed-upon benefit[s], which justify its production. They are only directly involved in the process during the sprint reviews.
Managers (including Project Managers)
People who will set up the environment for product development.

Agile Project Management with Scrum

Scrum has not only reinforced the interest in software project management, but also challenged the conventional ideas about such management. Scrum focuses on project management institutions where it is difficult to plan ahead with mechanisms for empirical process control, such as where feedback loops constitute the core element of product development compared to traditional command-and-control-oriented management. It represents a radically new approach for planning and managing software projects, bringing decision-making authority to the level of operation properties and certainties. Scrum reduces defects and makes the development process more efficient, as well as reducing long-term maintenance costs.

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