Scrum Project Management — A Beginner’s Guide
You’ve probably heard of various project management methodologies such as Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban, Agile, and others. But in this article, we’ll talk about Scrum.
If you are familiar with Rugby, you surely know this framework. Scrum is when a group of players lock their hands and head toward each other. Then push forward with full power to take the ball from the other team. This article is not trying to teach you how to play Rugby, but that’s the Scrum analogy.
However, if you can’t imagine this method, it’s easier to understand how the Scrum approach to project management works.
Fundamentals of the Scrum Methodology
Scrum is a framework that helps teams work together. Like Rugby, Scrum encourages teams to learn through experience, such as self-organising while working on a problem and reflecting on wins and losses to grow continuously. All kinds of teamwork can use this framework. That’s why Scrum is so popular.
Some people think that Scrum and Agile are the same because there is a continuous improvement process which is a crucial principle of Agile. However, Scrum is a framework for getting work done, while Agile is a mindset.
This approach is innovative because no specific leader oversees team performance, and there are no directions on how they should work. They must be aware of the goals and the best way to achieve them by their capabilities.
The Framework — Sprint Cycle
The Scrum framework is heuristic, based on a continuous learning process and adjustment to fluctuating factors. The team doesn’t know the project from the start but develops through experience. The purpose of this method is to help the team naturally adapt to changes and conditions.
Sprints are the beating heart of Scrum where ideas are transformed into value. For consistency, they have defined durations of one month or fewer. Immediately following the completion of the preceding Sprint, a new Sprint begins.
Although Scrum is structured, it doesn’t mean completely stiff. Its implementation can be adjusted to the organisation’s needs. However, this method has six principles:
- Empirical process control
- Value-based prioritisation
- Iterative development
The Essential Roles
The Scrum team has three essential roles; product owners, scrum masters, and developers. And because teams are cross-functional, developers include designers, UI UX, and others.
1. Product Owner (PO)
The PO is responsible for maximising value. It means that they don’t just care about the day-to-day work on the product or planning the Sprint itself. Their role is to ensure that stakeholder wishes are in the backlog. In addition, a PO also guides the team and drives communication among all members.
2. Scrum Master (SM)
The person who acts as a facilitator, ensuring that all members adhere to the Scrum principles and methodology, is called the Scrum Master. They encourage the team to think out of the box when there are pressing obstacles. As a facilitator, a Scrum Master schedules resources for the sprint cycle.
3. Development Team
The development team is the brain behind the process and has the technical skills necessary to build products. Both PO and SM can be a development team. Development must adhere to Scrum rules throughout the product-building process to ensure optimal performance.
An artefact is a tool to solve a problem. There are three artefacts in Scrum; product backlog, sprint backlog, and increments. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Product Backlog
Product backlog includes all features and functions of a prioritised product. Throughout the project’s cycle, the PO will manage the product backlog and take full responsibility for the changes. Commonly, the backlog contains the top requirements of product features. The PO continuously reviews, prioritises and maintains the product backlog. When the market changes, the product has to keep up with market developments to be relevant.
2. Sprint Backlog
It contains a list of tasks that must be completed during the Sprint. Tasks are pulled from the product backlog, prioritised in sprints, and distributed to development. The sprint backlog is flexible and can thrive over a sprint. But sprint goals cannot be compromised.
3. Increment (Sprints Goal)
It refers to the reviewable task at the end of the Sprints. The increment must be “done” according to the Scrum team definition. Each team has a mutually agreed definition of “done.”
Ceremonies and Events
Scrum has a series of ceremonies teams regularly. This whole series takes 2–4 weeks. However, daily stand-up is the only daily event in Scrum.
Before any work begins, the team should meet to prioritise features and create a product backlog.
- What are the features this sprint can deliver?
- How does the team work to achieve the sprint backlog?
Lastly, each member must understand how the product will progress.
Daily Stand Up
The daily stand-up is a short daily meeting at the same time. There is no fixed rule for the duration of these meetings, but some people finish in 15 minutes. The goal of this event is to know today’s to-do list. It’s also an opportunity to voice all concerns when meeting the sprint goal. Usually, the team will say three things:
- What they did yesterday
- What they will do today
- The obstacles they faced
At the end of the sprint, the teams will do a sprint review. It contains the demo process and increment results. The PO decides whether the sprint backlog is a success or should be revised. Stakeholders can also provide suggestions about products in this activity.
After the sprint review, the team conducted a retrospective. This ceremony serves to identify obstacles and motivations when working on each increment. The idea is to create a place where teams can focus on what needs improvement.
Scrum Software and Tools
Teams can customise the tools to run Scrum. However, many groups must switch to project management tools to boost productivity. Before deciding which tools and software to use, consider the following criteria:
- Ease of use
- External sharing processes
- Task management
- Real-time communication, sharing, and reporting
The PO must fit the tools to the teams’ needs including project types, sizes, and use cases. Tools and software need to have specific features that make it easier for teams, such as:
- Planning and scheduling
- Time tracking
The Difference between Scrum, Agile, and Kanban
Scrum is part of the Agile framework, so some people often misunderstand it as the same thing. But some companies choose to combine Scrum with Kanban, which is known as Scrumban. Both of these methodologies use visual concepts to track progress and emphasise efficiency. It also splits complex tasks into smaller chunks of manageable work.
Scrum is more structured than Kanban. Scrum focuses on little things. When the sprint period is complete, the product backlog can be established during the sprint and is then determined. However, the running task in Kanban will be implemented in the current process defined first.
Why do many companies use Scrum?
The framework is simple. It has a semi-perspective approach such as principles and artefacts eliminate ambiguity in the development process. This will give each developer enough space to introduce their style of work.
Teams will need more time to understand Scrum thoroughly, especially when they have just switched from the Waterfall methodologies. But the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial learning curve.
The success of the Scrum framework combines a whole series of events and resources with tools to achieve goals, making it an attractive framework for your team to adopt.
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