SCRUM: meaning, application, concepts and examples
Scrum is the most famous agile methodology, acting in a simple and effective way with regard to the development of projects, products or services. As a result, the model is capable of increasing productivity, optimizing activities, as well as customer satisfaction and the cultural transformation of agile teams.
Scrum teams maintain a cadence of work via a sequence of Sprints, typically one to four weeks. You will see below, more details about this important framework used to organize processes, eliminating bottlenecks and avoiding future problems, and which is useful everywhere, being able to be used in different areas and not just in software and information technology issues.
- After all, what is Scrum?
- Scrum: How does it work?
- What are the roles of Scrum?
- What is Product Owner?
- What is the job of a Scrum Master?
- What are artifacts in Scrum?
- What is Daily Scrum and who should participate?
- Scrum Retrospective: Who Participates?
- Scrum: How did it come about and who created it?
- What is the difference between Scrum and Kanban and is it possible to use both?
- In Scrum, what is Sprint?
- Where should you start in Scrum?
- If you could only do one of the Scrum events, which would it be?
- Scrum: How to do twice the work in half the time?
- Is it possible to apply Scrum for HR?
- For which situations and types of projects is Scrum recommended?
- Can Scrum be considered a framework or methodology for product development?
- Scrum application examples
- What are the types of certification in Scrum?
- What is the most popular Scrum certification?
Scrum is characterized as an agile framework for the development, delivery and support of complex products. Initially, it was proposed to assist in software development projects. However, it has been applied in any scope of complex projects and innovative works and is indicated for building products with requirements that change quickly or are highly emerging.
Collaborative, cross-functional and self-organizing people are some of the characteristics of Scrum team members. High-performing and very collaborative teams is the main sign that an organization is using Scrum.
Scrum suggests that each Sprint, that is, each cycle, starts with a brief planning meeting and ends with a review meeting of the work done. In addition to these two meetings, it is also recommended to hold one more event every Sprint: the so-called retrospective.
In this context, when developing a product using Scrum, short and cadenced cycles are established (for example, weekly Sprints). That way, from Sprint to Sprint, the Scrum team aligns, work, and enables continuous improvement.
Every working day, at the same time, the team meets for about fifteen minutes to inspect the progress of the planned work for the Sprint, to sync up on individual work, and to seek any help on removing blockers on the way of accomplishing the Sprint goal. This event with the daily meetings is called the Daily Scrum.
Scrum teams have three specific roles:
- Scrum Master (SM).
- Product Owner (PO).
- Developers (Development team).
The first is the Scrum Master (SM), a person experienced with the framework who has responsibility for ensuring that it is understood and applied. In this role, the main objective is to maximize the efficiency of the team.
Product Owner (PO) is the second specific role. The person in this role represents the business, customers or users and guides the team to build the right product. The PO primary role is prioritizing the backlog based on alignment between stakeholders, both internal and external to the Scrum team. The PO maximizes value through a continuous product development process, guided by learning and experimentation.
Everyone else on the Scrum team is considered a Developer, hence Scrum’s third role. These are the people of varying abilities committed to creating each and every product increment.
As we saw above, Product Owner (PO) is the second specific role of Scrum and, in this way, leads the development effort, through clarification and prioritization of the work.
PO: as a central piece of the scrum framework.
Typically, the PO works with the Product Backlog, the master list of requirements for the product to be created. She becomes the key part of the framework, as she participates in: Daily Scrum, leads refinement sessions, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, participates in team retrospectives, leads the strategic direction of the product and much more.
In a framework like Scrum, which promotes teamwork and cadenced alignment via Sprints, based on the clarity and involvement of each role and each meeting, the PO assumes a key position, which promotes alignment between all stakeholders, whether they are internal or external to the Scrum team.
The Scrum Master (SM) assumes one of the main roles in Scrum, helping the team to become more effective, aligned and autonomous. It is important to remember that the Scrum Master becomes an expert in processes, but not in content. This is all due to the fact that the SM should facilitate the work, so everyone on the team can collaborate and perform at their highest level.
The Scrum Master is a guide that will be encouraging team collaboration and solving possible obstacles during the Sprint. For this, the SM has a lot of familiarity and experience with the Scrum framework, its collaborative nature, its artefacts and events.
However, the role of fostering collaboration does not mean that the Scrum Master is the main player. Quite the opposite. The Scrum Master must be a mediator, the one who fosters the search for solutions and active conversations between all the people on the Scrum team, and possible external stakeholders. Consequently, the Scrum Master’s job is to ensure the team’s success.
In other words, the Scrum Master’s goal is to support the team so that they can carry out each activity planned for the Sprint, dedicating themselves to product delivery and increments, and ensuring that it generates according to expectations. and goals.
In Scrum, artefacts are intended to maximize transparency and promote alignment about the work.
Scrum has three artefacts:
- Product backlog.
- Sprint Backlog.
- Product increment.
The Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog describe the work to be done, respectively, for the product and for the Sprint.
The increment, on the other hand, is a piece of the product that serves a specific purpose. To provide value, each and every one of the increments must be usable.
Each Increment is added to previously delivered Increments. Typically, a product increment is created in a Sprint; if not possible, it should be created in very few Sprints.
The book Product Backlog Building (PBB): A practical guide to define, prioritize, and refine backlogs for successful products also addresses the topic of Scrum artifacts.
Daily Scrum is daily meeting to check the progress of the Scrum team’s work tasks against the Sprint goal. In this meeting, what was done by the team on the previous day comes into the agenda and evaluation, impediments are identified and the activities to be carried out on the day that begins are prioritized.
All team members participate in this meeting, who usually answer three questions to promote everyone’s daily alignment: what I did yesterday, what I’m going to do today and what is preventing the progress of my work to reach the Sprint goal. With these answers, each team member reinforce their commitment to the others.
Everyone who participates in Scrum team must participate in the Retrospective. It is the encounter to talk about continuous improvement in relation to the process, to the work and the interaction between the participants.
Retrospectives enables the team to perform and achieve success. Each person brings a different life experience, a different perspective. Retrospectives is a great moment for people to recognize each other achievement, therefore increasing the team morale.
Do you know what the main element of continuous improvement is? It’s an effective team. In this sense, the book Fun retrospectives: activities and ideas for making agile retrospectives more engaging has useful tools to develop it!
Jeff Sutherland is one of the most important names when it comes to Scrum. This is all because he is considered one of the “fathers” of Scrum, one of the creators of the method, founder of Scrum Inc. and also co-author of the agile manifesto.
Together with Ken Schwaber, Jeff created Scrum in 1993. The initiative was created at Easel Corporation with the primary objective of changing the way software development was managed. However, several other professionals also contributed to the methodology reaching the point it is today.
There are records that the first basis for the Scrum framework was mentioned in 1986, in an article by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka published in the Harvard Business Review. In “The New Game of New Product Development” the authors compared product creation processes to sports. That’s where the comparison of Scrum to a game of Rugby came from: the ideal was for the whole team to play at the same time, passing tasks forwards or backwards until the goal was reached.
Kanban is a method formulated by David J. Anderson for managing the workflow of an incremental and evolutionary process. This method, influenced by the Toyota Just-In-Iime model, is based on visualizing the workflow and, from there, acting on the process so as not to overload the system.
Kanban can be seen as flow management and a communication tool to quickly acquire knowledge and align actions among team members. The main objective is to give all team members a shared view of the workflow and the current state of work. In this way, Kanban provides visual representations of workflow phases, people and work.
Considering that Scrum and Kanban are methods to make a team more agile, more collaborative and more organized, it is very common to combine and use them together. Corey Ladas created the name Scrumban to show the integration of both.
On the other hand, when starting to apply a method, the combination of it with others can bring confusion as to the understanding of it. In this case, the choice between starting with Scrum or with Kanban must be made considering the profile of the business, its needs and medium and long-term goals.
The Sprint, as seen earlier, has the main role of promoting a cadence, typically one to four weeks, depending on the team’s preference. In the agile world of Scrum, fixed and detailed descriptions of how everything should be done in the Sprint are avoided.
You should not have a Sprint for preparing the work, another one for building it and another one for testing it. Fixed and detailed description and execution of work are a best fit for more traditional methodologies, such as the waterfall.
In Scrum, on every Sprint, the team is preparing, building, and testing work items. It is a continuous cycle, one Sprint after another. Every Sprint should deliver a product increment.
That’s why the sprint planning meeting is described in terms of goals and desired outcome. This is a commitment to an increment to be developed in the Sprint, thus seeking a balance between autonomy, flexibility and team commitment to start and finish it, within a Sprint. This commitment is revisited at the end of the Sprint, in the review meeting.
Start by defining the team’s cadence: for example: One-week sprints.
The Scrum framework suggests that each Sprint starts with a brief planning meeting, and ends with a review meeting of the work done at the end of the Sprint. Choose the days and times for these two meetings. For example: Planning on Mondays, from 8 am to 9 am, and Review on Fridays, from 4 pm to 5 pm.
These are the principles of Scrum project management: short, cadenced cycles with alignment meetings (planning and review). This is the basics of the basics.
Then, consider a quick daily encounter to verify the progress of the work (Daily Scrum) and a weekly meeting for talking about possible improvements (retrospective).
Choose the time of the Daily Scrum: for example, daily from 10:00 to 10:15. It should be noted that this meeting is meant to be informative and quick.
Also schedule a recurring time for continuous improvement, for the retrospective meeting. For example: on Wednesdays, from 4 pm to 5 pm.
Once the team gets used to the cadence, go a step further and improve the way they handle roles: Scrum Master, PO, and cross-functional team of developers.
As the team is doing a retrospective, probably the team itself will be looking for improvements. Very likely, the team will bring the conversation about work scope improvement. Then you should explore how Scrum handles the artefacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and product increment.
Regardless of how and where the team started, when doing the retrospective the team will be pointing to the next step, the next improvement – be it in relation to the events, the roles or the artefacts – to be carried out.
It is worth remembering that retrospectives must be efficient and fun), especially, as there will be many, many retrospectives in the course of a team. The FunRetrospectives website and book – www.FunRetrospectives.com – helps you plan and run successful retrospectives.
In the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by author Jeff Sutherland and co-author JJ Sutherland, the reflection is made that teams with high performance were those that presented, among other characteristics, the fact of being multidisciplinary and have autonomy to work.
For them, it is possible to do twice the work in half the time with the use of Scrum, as it has precisely this approach to be contemplated, working metrics with a focus on results and continuous improvement, where retrospectives play a prominent role in evaluating and improve.
But let’s go further: the biggest waste is doing something very efficiently that shouldn’t be done, even if you do it in half the time. Modern practices such as Lean Inception and PBB complement Scrum to help in the pursuit of effectiveness and efficiency. How about achieving exponentiality, much more than double in half the time?!
Yes, the author João Paulo Coutinho highlights that, specifically in the area of Human Resources, since many of the activities are continuous, with a beginning and hardly an end:
“Shorter sprints help us to seek innovation by implementing goals that are more tangible to the organizational reality, while planning, adaptation and evaluation, feedback, are part of the routine in the area’s relationship with the clients served. The greatest value is in adapting and improving according to user feedback”.
Scrum was initially formalized for software development projects, but it has been applied to any scope of complex projects and innovative work. As a result, its use is very suitable in projects with rapidly changing or highly emergent requirements.
Yes. Scrum is one of many agile frameworks. In general, all agile frameworks work by delivering large projects in small chunks – small increments. As each product increment is completed, it should be made available to its users. Then, typically, the Scrum team continues to work on the product backlog, on the next product increment.
Scrum teams do not treat the backlog as a fixed and detailed list of requirements. They continuous refine the backlog to decide what to build next based on what they’ve learned and feedback they’ve received. These frequent inspection and retrofit cycles reduce waste and minimize risk. Teams do this until they deliver the full product or service, or until what they’ve released so far meets the customer’s needs. The book Product Backlog Building (PBB) goes in more detail about how to prioritize and refine backlogs.
It is common for Scrum teams to also use the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept to quickly validate whether product increments are delivering value to users and generate insights into the way forward.
Although it is linked to software development, Scrum can be applied to any team work and in different segments.
Scrum applied in the Human Resources (HR) area:
In the book Scrum for Dummies, authors Mark Layton and David Morrow bring the example of Parexel Informatics, an American company operating in the biopharmaceutical sector, which needed to hire more than 20 employees in a short period of time.
“The company faced several challenges: it did not have a recruitment or onboarding team to facilitate the transition of new employees in the organization. The company applied Scrum, performed a Planning, identified a priority map, and initiated “week-long sprints” to monitor progress. Within seven weeks, Parexel had hired, trained and integrated 21 new professionals to work on the new project. Team united to achieve the objective, monitoring the progress of the work, inspecting and adapting when necessary”.
Scrum applied in Software Project on Dutch Railways – InfoQ article:
As reported in this case study, a Dutch railway had the need to develop travel information software for passengers. Times, destinations, intervals, should be displayed on displays and communicated through sound automatically.
The article points out that one of the client’s requirements was to be able to see the project working in stages, from the beginning and not only in the final delivery of the product. With the use of Scrum, it was possible to make incremental deliveries, with greater customer participation in all phases and better management of all teams involved in the project.
Scrum for organizing a wedding – LinkedIn post by Design Thinking Coach, Fernando Figueiredo Virgilio:
The application of Scrum in an event such as a wedding can help, among other things, to save time, money and reduce stress. In this example, the construction of the wedding backlog, a list of all the items that would make the event a success, such as: photographer, decoration, invitations, church, food, etc.
The other step would be to prioritize the wedding backlog, that is, sort the elements by priority. When planning the Sprint, the bride and groom would ask themselves what it would take to complete each item. The couple can set a cadence for the follow-up meetings. And in the retrospective, it is the opportunity to discuss the Sprint and assess which points could be improved.
If you are looking for a Scrum certification, you should look at two organisations. One of them is the Scrum Alliance website, which has different types of certifications by Scrum Team role. Another is the Scrum.org website, which also provides various certifications and assessments that can be used as tools to examine, improve, and certify your knowledge of Scrum.
Here at Caroli.org, we provide several exclusive and authorial training complementary to Scrum. You can obtain additional certifications. Participation in these trainings also includes a e-book, support material, learning and networking. Access the Training menu on our website and stay on top of our trainings options and schedule.
There are several Scrum certifications. However, the best known are the Scrum Master (certification available at PSM – Scrum.org or CSM – Scrum Alliance) and the Scrum Product Owner (certification also available at PSPO – Scrum.org or CSPO – Scrum Alliance).
In Brazil, where Caroli.org started, many people are complementing the typical Scrum certifications with the following trainings:
- Sprint to Sprint (Based on the book Sprint to Sprint: Successes and Mistakes in the Cultural Transformation of an Agile Team, the training addresses the different stages of a team and presents practices that can be adopted in each of the stages so that the team can be well successful in achieving its goals);
- FunRetrospectives (Based on the new book FunRetrospectives: Activities and Ideas to Make Agile Retrospectives More Engaging, the training teaches step-by-step, in rich detail, how to prepare and facilitate very engaging and efficient retrospectives);
- Lean Inception (Based on the best-selling book Lean Inception, the training teaches you step by step how to align a group of people and create the right product. Learning put into practice – hands-on – so you never waste time, money, or effort building the wrong product);
- Product Backlog Building – PBB (Based on the book Product Backlog Building: A practical guide to creating and refining a backlog for successful products, the training is a unique and intense experience that will lead participants to experience in practice the elaboration and definition of a Effective and collaborative backlog through PBB, a Product Backlog construction process that uses the PBB Canvas as a facilitation tool).
- Lean Delivery the eBook training with the same name that connects the concepts of Lean Inception, MVP, Scrum and Kanban through a practical activity where participants form teams that must plan and monitor agile deliveries, applying the concepts and basing themselves on metrics of flow.
>> Here you can find more information on booking these trainings.
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