Briefly explained – Agile project management with Scrum

Although Scrum is easy to understand, the implementation usually troubles, this article is intended to provide first aid.

The definition

Scrum is a framework. It enables smaller development teams to solve complex problems in the implementation of a project as efficiently and creatively as possible. The framework consists of different roles, a clear sequence and various artifacts.

The benefits

Although Scrum was originally conceived in the 1990s to develop software, it is now used for project management in a wide variety of contexts. For example, it is used in schools and governments, but also in social media agencies or law firms. In short, Scrum is suitable for use in almost any type of problem.

The theory

The Scrum Framework is based on three pillars. All of them are taken from empirical process control.

  • Transparency: Everyone involved in the project needs to understand why decisions have been taken and how they have been implemented.
  • Control: At regular intervals, but not too often, it should be checked whether the objectives have been achieved.
  • Adaptation: The possibility to adapt the project in certain characteristics must always be kept open.

The roles

The Scrum Framework relies on a clear role distribution:

  • Product Owner: The client. It is an individual, not a committee. The product owner decides on the characteristics and benefits of the project. It also determines the period in which which objectives are to be achieved.
  • Development team: Often referred to as the core of the Scrum Framework. The team includes three to nine members who are able to implement the project without attracting more outside help. You decide how the functionalities of a product are implemented. Individual team members perform tasks from different subject areas.
  • Scrum Master: Also an individual. It monitors the work process and helps the development team to implement the project without being part of it. In addition, if necessary, it takes over the mediation between the product owner and the development team.
  • Stakeholders: The customers or users to which the project is aimed. And the management that provides the resources for the scrum process.

The values

Before a development team sits on a project, it is important to ensure that all team members are guided by the following five values:

  • Courage: Each team member has the courage to face difficult problems and to look for the appropriate solutions.
  • Focus: Each team member focuses on the goals set by the product owner.
  • Commitment: Each team member uses all of their resources to achieve the goals they set.
  • Respect: There is a respectful approach among the team members.
  • Openness: The entire work process is transparent. During the development of the project, stakeholders gain insight into most decisions and processes.

This culture of values makes a decisive contribution to the success of a project within the Scrum Framework.

The process

A scrum process consists of several sprints. A sprint lasts one to a maximum of four weeks. It consists of the following four phases:

1st phase: Sprint Planning.

Within an eight-hour timeframe, the product owner, the development team, and the scrum master plan the upcoming sprint.

In a first step, an analysis is made of which tasks of the overall project are to be implemented. The assessment of the development team plays a decisive role in this. They must ultimately decide whether the timeframe set for implementation is sufficient.

In a second step, the development team determines how the tasks should be implemented. To do this, it breaks down the tasks into individual work steps, which it then distributes to the working days.

Stage 2: Daily Scrum

Before each working day, the development team meets for a 15-minute session. The Scrum Master ensures that no outsiders interfere with the meeting. The aim is to reflect on the past day and plan the coming day. After this meeting across the team, individual team members often meet for a more detailed meeting.

3rd Phase: Sprint Review

In this phase, the product owner determines which goals from Sprint Planning have been achieved and which have not. The development team explains why this is the case, for example, what problems have emerged that have prevented the goal from being achieved.

4th Phase: Sprint Retrospective:

The Scrum Master and the development team meet at the end of each sprint. They discuss whether their work processes have been efficient and how they can make them even more efficient in the upcoming sprints. After the Sprint Retrospective, the planning for the next sprint starts directly.

The sprint ends at the time specified by the Product Master and cannot be extended. Only if the Product Master cancels the sprint or the development team withdraws from the project does not need to be finished.

The Artifacts

The Scrum Framework provides some interesting tools to implement projects as efficiently and transparently as possible. According to the Scrum Guidelines, they are called artifacts.

Product Backlog

In the Product Backlog, the Product Owner lists the individual tasks that are pending during a project in order of importance. In doing so, he formulates as clearly as possible and tries to optimize the entries in such a way that the goals of the project can be achieved as smoothly as possible.

Tasks are constantly added to or removed from the backlog. The order can also be changed by the product owner at any time. However, it is important that tasks that are higher up in the backlog are described and elaborated in as much detail as possible.

The development team assesses how long it will take to complete each task. Nevertheless, the product owner is not prohibited from taking orders from the backlog and completing them.

Sprint Backlog

In consultation with the product owner, the development team is putting together a backlog for the upcoming sprint. Prioritized tasks from the product backlog migrate to the Sprint Backlog and are to be completed within the next sprint. The remaining tasks in the Sprint Backlog allow the development team to estimate how likely it is to achieve the goals of the current sprint.

Definition of Done

Each task within the backlogs has a so-called definition of done. This term refers to the specifications agreed between the product owner and the development team, which must be met for a task to be considered complete.

Conclusion

Scrum provides an excellent foundation for realizing projects within small development teams in close collaboration with the product owner. The framework has clear structures that enable a project to be implemented as creatively as possible, but nevertheless efficiently.

 

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