Organizations leverage project management for various aspects of a project, such as its timelines, deliverables, budgets, resources, requirements, and scope, to make better decisions. Organizations can choose from various project management methodologies like Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, and Scrum after carefully evaluating project requirements and client specifications. However, the Scrum approach is ideal for businesses that need clarity in their development process. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the Scrum methodology, artifacts, roles and events to successfully leverage it for your project management needs.
What Is Scrum Methodology?
Scrum methodology is an Agile project management method used in the development of software. This methodology aims to provide a team-driven approach to software development. Using Scrum methodologies, software development organizations can provide deliverables using an iterative and incremental process – that is, by breaking down large projects into more manageable tasks. Each iteration or small increment is known as a sprint. The sprint focuses on achieving quality results toward the product goal in a short time. At the end of each sprint, stakeholders inspect the results and provide feedback.
The term Scrum originates from the sport of rugby, where a Scrum is a cluster of players who focus on achieving a goal. In terms of project management, a Scrum refers to a brief meeting where team members contribute to a project’s success. Scrum methodology plays a pivotal role in achieving project success and fulfilling the needs of the stakeholders. According to the 15th State of Agile Report, over 81% of teams working within an Agile framework use Scrum and follow derivations of the Scrum.
What Is Agile?
Agile is an iterative approach that enables teams to complete projects in incremental steps. The Agile approach breaks down a project into several phases for efficient project management. After initiating a project, teams cycle through different phases, such as the planning, executing, and evaluating phases.
In Agile project management, teams complete smaller, incremental tasks and continually review and iterate based on feedback and the demands of the stakeholders; Teams consult stakeholders throughout the process for feedback and improvement. Though the Agile approach was initially created for software development, it is now widely used in various industries and projects.
The Agile project management system was initially developed in 2001 by a team of software developers to complete projects in a more collaborative and flexible manner. The group summarized their ideas in the Manifesto for Agile Development, which outlines the following four values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change by following a plan
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile framework that allows organizations and teams to generate value by finding adaptive solutions to complex problems. The goal of Scrum is to efficiently deliver products of the highest possible value. The term Scrum originates from a Harvard Business Review article written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in 1986. Although Scrum is the most widely used framework in software development, diverse industries have adopted it to deliver complex, dynamic products and services.
A Brief History of Scrum
Over the last two decades, Scrum has helped organizations develop new products faster and more efficiently. The sections below outline how the scrum framework originated, evolved, and developed.
1986: The Term ‘Scrum’ Was Coined
The term Scrum was first coined by two Japanese business experts, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, in a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The New Product Development Game.” They proposed a new way to develop products based on the analogy of a rugby game. Takeuchi and Nonaka compared a new holistic approach between product development and rugby sport, where the entire team moves forward to pass the ball around.
Their article describes how companies like Canon, Honda, Epson, and 3M have achieved superior results using a scalable and self-organized team in the development process. Eventually, this article gave rise to the concept of Scrum.
1993: Scrum Was Implemented at the Easel Corporation
Scrum was first fully implemented in 1993 by John Scumniotales, Jeff Sutherland, and Jeff McKenna at the Easel Corporation. It was used to build an object-oriented design and analysis tool.
1995: The Scrum Development Process Was Introduced
In 1995, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber presented a paper, ”The Scrum Development Process,” at the Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages & Applications (OOPSLA) Conference ‘95 in Texas, USA. There, they introduced Scrum for the first time to the outside world.
2001: The Agile Manifesto Guide Was Drafted
In 2001, Sutherland and Schwaber, along with 15 other software developers, devised the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.” This manifesto helped software developers pursue a different way of creating software. In 2001, Schwaber and Mike Beedle wrote a book called, ‘Agile Software Development with Scrum,’ describing the Scrum framework.
2002: The Scrum Alliance Organization Was Formed
In 2002, Schwaber founded the Scrum Alliance and began offering Scrum certifications. Later, Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance and founded Scrum.org, which started issuing Professional Scrum certifications in 2009. In the last few years, over 100,000 people have received some form of Scrum certification.
2010: The First Scrum Guide Was Published
In 2010, the first version of the Scrum Guide was published, with the goal of helping people understand Scrum. Over the years, the Scrum Guide has been revised and reissued several times.
2014: “The Value of Scrum to Organizations” Was Published
In 2014, Dr. Dave Cornelius, a global Lean and Agile advocate, published his doctoral research on Scrum, entitled “The Value of Scrum to Organizations.” His research enables organizations with a high level of team empowerment and collaboration.
2016: The First Fully Scalable Scrum methodology Was Formalized
Scrum became the first methodology that was fully scalable in 2016. Since then, Scrum has continued to evolve to meet the demands of distributed teams and product owners – both strategic and tactical. As a result, more organizations are implementing the Scrum methodology to manage their teams.
2017: Scrum Zone 3.0 White Paper Was Published by 3Back
3Back’s Scrum Handbook white paper offered ground-breaking insights and real-world analyses of the newest evolution of Scrum to make Scrum work better for teams.
From the emergence of the term ‘Scrum’ in 1985 to today’s scalable implementation in distributed teams, Scrum’s framework has evolved to address the real-world demands of complex teams. Today, an increasing number of IT and non-IT companies are using Scrum practices for software development.
What Is Agile Scrum Methodology?
Agile Scrum methodology is a combination of Agile and the Scrum framework. This methodology is a sprint-based project management system with the goal of delivering the highest value to stakeholders. It relies on continuous iterations and incremental development processes. Each iteration consists of two-to four-week sprints, where the goal of each sprint is to develop the most important features and produce a potentially deliverable product.
Companies of all sizes use Agile Scrum methodology for its ability to provide high-end collaboration and efficiency for project-based work. It focuses on improving teamwork through continuous iterations.
Benefits of Scrum Methodology
Scrum is a powerful project management framework that helps an organization streamline a project, control cost overruns, and enhance resource efficiency. Traditionally, Scrum has been strongly associated with software development, but now most types of organizations use Scrum for complex projects. The Scrum methodology is also used by various industries, such as hospitality, construction, consultancies, and financial services.
The following are the top benefits that Scrum provides to organizations, teams and individuals.
Provides a Quality Framework
The Scrum framework ensures that the team tests a product frequently, which enhances quality. It allows the team to take continuous feedback through sprint reviews with stakeholders and product owners. By conducting sprint retrospectives, Scrum helps address complex problems and continuously update the system within each development stage. Once the team develops the product, it tests, integrates, and documents it. Scrum helps team members locate improvement areas throughout the product development stage to achieve quality output.
Improves Customer Satisfaction
Scrum teams are committed to delivering products that satisfy and delight customers. As sprints are really short in Scrum, results are tested within 1-3 weeks and delivered promptly. With Scrum, customer feedback is collated quickly, and new features/corrections are added frequently. Further, Scrum expedites the bug-fixing process and develops new features based on customer feedback. The main focus of Scrum is to develop a product as per customer requirements and feedback.
Decreases Time to Market
Scrum’s approach helps teams deliver products to customers 30–40% faster than traditional methods. In the event of any changes to the project, the tester checks for information and updates immediately. The product owner manages the full development and execution of the project and offers real-time clarification at the right time.
Enhances Team Collaboration
Scrum is a team-based approach that enhances effective collaboration between team members, which is critical for tackling and accomplishing large projects. Collaboration allows teams to circumvent organizational barriers and prioritize their work; thus, it offers a framework that enables teams to adapt to changes quickly.
Lowers Production Costs and Risks
Using Scrum for product development minimizes production costs and mitigates the risk involved. With the Scrum approach, teams can reduce documentation and control costs, such as overhead expenses, and increase productivity. Scrum allows project managers to estimate the cost of production and prioritize tasks based on their complexity.
Roles in Scrum Methodology
Scrum roles are assigned to individuals who work together to perform task-related responsibilities. The Scrum methodology includes three core roles: the Scrum master, the product owner, and the development team.
Let’s learn about the responsibilities of each of these roles.
The Scrum master provides complete guidance to the team and ensures operational efficiency. They also instruct teams on Scrum practices, ensuring that all members follow the principles and values of Scrum. Plus, they hold daily meetings with the Scrum team to ensure that projects are on track. They facilitate and guide the Scrum team, remove impediments to sprints, and ensure that the team works within the Scrum framework to produce deliverables.
The job responsibilities of the Scrum master are as follows:
- The Scrum master helps the Scrum team understand the product backlog and facilitates the daily Scrum meetings
- They lead the sprint plan meeting and organize retrospective reviews to identify the areas for improvement
- They help the team understand the Scrum practices and alleviate productivity roadblocks
A product owner ensures the Scrum team aligns with overall product goals. The product owner is responsible for prioritizing product goals for each sprint and communicating them to the Scrum team. They make product development decisions such as setting product expectations, tracking changes to the product features and managing the product backlog. In addition, they make sure that the team is focused on achieving the product goal.
The following are the main responsibilities of the product owner:
- Product owners define the product goal, features and vision of the product
- They have the potential to organize sprints and manage the product backlog by prioritizing important tasks
- Product owners communicate with internal and external stakeholders to align development work with the product roadmap
The development team plays a crucial role in completing the project work. They work collectively to develop and deliver the project as per the goals. The development team comprises cross-functional members such as developers, software architects, and designers. Once resources are allocated to the project, the development team collaborates with the Scrum master and product owners to plan the sprint.
The following are the main responsibilities of the development team:
- The development team is a cross-functional, small and self-organizing group of professionals that is accountable for developing, testing and releasing the product increment
- The development team self-administers each task and collectively works to meet each sprint goal. They develop, test and deliver the products and prototypes
- They participate in Scrum events and follow the instructions of the Scrum master and product owners
Scrum events are integral to implementing the Scrum framework and allow Scrum teams to discuss product development progress. These events are also known as Scrum ceremonies. Scrum events foster communication and collaboration within the Scrum team throughout the product development lifecycle. There are five distinct Scrum events held at regular intervals.
Sprint planning is the first event in the Scrum that kicks off the sprint. During sprint planning, the team prioritizes the primary work and creates a plan for the sprint. The product owner explains the objective of the sprint and ensures the work maps toward the product goal. Sprint planning aims to define what can be delivered in the sprint to achieve the sprint goal.
The daily Scrum is a 15-minute team meeting that is conducted to understand the project workflow. This daily Scrum meeting is also referred to as a daily stand-up meeting. During the daily Scrum meeting, the team assesses the progress toward the sprint goal. The Scrum master organizes and coordinates the daily Scrum meeting to identify impediments and help the team to achieve the sprint goal.
Sprint reviews are meetings where the team showcases its work to the stakeholders; therefore, they usually occur at the end of the sprint. During the sprint review, the Scrum team invites the stakeholders to review their work, evaluate the outcome of the sprint, and determine future improvements. Sprint reviews are typically time-boxed to four hours.
The Sprint retrospective is the final event of the sprint, and it is time-boxed to a maximum of three hours. During a sprint retrospective, the team identifies opportunities for improvement in the sprint. The entire Scrum team makes tangible plans to improve their processes, tools, and relationships, to improve the product’s quality.
A sprint is an event that includes all the work and activities that happen during the time-boxed period of the development cycle. During a sprint, the team defines its sprint goal and plans its work based on the sprint backlog. After the planning session, the team works together to complete the planned work and make it ready for review. Sprints are the heartbeat of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value.
Scrum artifacts provide the key information that helps stakeholders and the Scrum team to understand product development. It uses three artifacts to identify and document the work that must be done for the project to be successful.
The product backlog is an ordered list of tasks, features, enhancements, or work requirements essential to building a product.
The sprint backlog contains the product backlog items selected for the sprint, along with the plan for delivering the product increment and achieving the sprint goal. Using the sprint backlog, the development team forecasts the functionality it plans to provide in the next increment and the work that needs to be done to implement it.
The product increment is a set of deliverables created by fulfilling product backlog items during a sprint. It is the most important Scrum artifact. During a sprint, the product increment demonstrates the team’s efforts and the growth the product has undergone.
Difference Between Agile & Scrum
The Agile methodology is the collective term for a group of approaches that share common principles and values, whereas Scrum is a commonly-used Agile framework for organizing work to maximize user value.
Although Scrum and Agile are similar, they have some key differences, as outlined in the table below.
|Agile is an iterative approach that enables teams to complete projects in incremental steps
|Scrum is an Agile framework that enables teams and organizations to generate value through adaptive solutions to complex problems
|In Agile, leadership plays an important role
|Scrum fosters collaboration of a cross-functional, self-organizing team
|Agile gives more flexibility
|Scrum adds rigidity
|With Agile, you can easily collaborate and have face-to-face interactions
|With Scrum, you can effortlessly organize daily stand-up meetings
|In Agile, the project leader takes maximum responsibilities
|In Scrum, teammates divide the responsibilities among themselves
|With Agile, plans are updated regularly based on feedback
|With Scrum, feedback is easily collected during sprint meetings and used to update plans for the next sprint
|In Agile, customer satisfaction is the topmost priority
|In Scrum, projects are managed based on an empirical process
Choosing the Right Project Management Methodology
Several excellent project management methodologies, such as Agile, Kanban, Scrum, and Waterfall, are available today. However, it’s important to choose the method that best suits your organization and project.
A scrum methodology is ideal for industries under constant change or those pioneering new projects. While an Agile approach may be most beneficial when dealing with complex projects or cross-functional teams.
Scrum is highly compatible with other forms of project management and offers the freedom to deliver valued products iteratively and incrementally. Hence, implementing the Scrum methodology in your projects will help teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Scrum in project management?
Scrum is a set of meetings, tools, and roles that help teams to manage and accomplish iterative cycles of work. Scrum provides a framework of values, roles, and guidelines to help your team focus on iteration and improvement.
What are the principles of Scrum?
The Scrum principles are the core guidelines for applying the Scrum framework and are mandatory in every Scrum project. Here are the six basic principles of Scrum:
- Control over the empirical process
- Value-based prioritization
- Iterative development