What is Scrum?

Date: 24/11/2023| Category: Best Practices Glossary| Tags:

Scrum is a framework for responding to complex and changing problems while productively and creatively delivering products with the highest value possible.

What is Scrum? A definition

Scrum allows you to work as a team to make continuous improvement on iterative incremental product deliveries to satisfy your customers. Scrum is based on the theory of empirical process control and supported by 3 fundamental pillars:

  • Transparency: being honest, having nothing to hide, working together for the success of the product/project by making the important aspects of the process visible to all those responsible for the results
  • Inspection: being able to help each other and inspect Scrum artefacts and progress against a Sprint Goal in order to detect unwanted deviations
  • Adaptation: adapting to changes (in general, product changes or changes in the way things are done)

Scrum is:

  • A framework, not a method
  • Light
  • Simple
  • Empirical
  • Iterative
  • Difficult to master

Why Scrum?

Project Management may seem complex but it is very concrete. There is always an initiation phase, a planning phase (to have visibility), an execution phase, a control phase and a closing phase. Whether you are in an agile environment or not, you will always find these phases, even with Scrum.

Unlike the V-cycle, Scrum focuses on the product. The V-cycle is a Project Management method in two phases, one for each branch of the V. There is a descending phase, from the need expressed by the customer until the product is produced, and an ascending phase, from the finished product to the verification of its quality. Scrum addresses the challenges of the V-cycle: lack of visibility, endless deliveries, taking into account changing customer needs and focusing on added value by organising work in an iterative and incremental way.

When a customer expresses a need, it is necessary to set up an organisation that is capable of adapting itself to meet the customer’s real and final need. To achieve this, the Scrum “method” works in iterative and incremental mode to propose products at each stage to meet the customer’s real need. In this way, Scrum avoids the lack of visibility, endless delivery and the waste that some companies experience with V-cycle Project Management.

The history of Scrum

The history of Scrum goes back to when the Scrum metaphor first appeared in 1986 in a publication by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka entitled “The New Product Development Game”, which was then applied to the industrial world. They described a new holistic approach that would increase the speed and flexibility of new product development.

In 1995, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland presented a short paper describing the foundations of what would become the Scrum method at the OOPSLA (Object-oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications) research conference in Austin, USA. In 2001, they participated in the development of the Agile Manifesto and in 2011, they formalised the Scrum framework for the development, delivery and maintenance of complex products in the Scrum Guide.

The Values of Scrum

The values of Scrum are also known as the 5 values, embodied and lived by the Scrum team. These values of scrum are the pillars that emerge and consolidate the trust between everyone. The successful application of Scrum therefore depends on people being able to embrace these values:

  • Commitment: Scrum team members are committed to achieving the goals and dedicating themselves to the team’s success
  • Courage: Scrum team members must have the courage to do the right thing, to admit that a feature will not be finished and to work on difficult problems
  • Focus: Scrum team members must focus on their workload per Sprint and according to the team’s goals
  • Openness: Scrum team members and stakeholders agree to be open-minded about their work and the challenges that come with this
  • Respect: Scrum team members respect each other and are aware of being capable and independent individuals

The 3-5-3 Scrum canvas

The Scrum canvas consists of Scrum teams, events, artifacts and rules. Each component of this framework has a specific purpose and is essential to the success and use of the framework.

The 3 Scrum Roles

There are 3 Scrum Roles:

  • The Scrum Master: responsible for enforcing the scrum framework
  • The Product Owner: responsible for the product, the what
  • The Scrum Developer: responsible for the production, the how

Scrum teams are self-organised and multi-disciplinary. They choose the best way to do their work, rather than being directed by people outside the team, which promotes flexibility, creativity and productivity.

The 5 Scrum Events

The 5 Scrum events are as below:

  • Backlog review: to get the product vision
  • Sprint planning: to determine the sprint objective
  • Daily standup: to align within the development team
  • Sprint review: to collect feedback from the customer
  • Sprint retrospective: to improve practices

These 5 Scrum eventsevents promote transparency and inspection. They are used to create regularity and minimise the need for meetings not defined by Scrum. All events are time-bound through time-boxes so that each event has a maximum duration.

The 3 Scrum Artifacts

  • The Product Backlog: an ordered list of everything that might be required in the product
  • The Sprint Backlog: a forecast of the features that will be present in the next increment
  • The Visible Increment: product backlog items completed during the sprint as well as the cumulative value of increments delivered in previous sprints

Scrum artefacts represent either work or value, providing transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. Scrum rules are the terms that link roles, events and artefacts together. These rules are described in the Scrum Guide.

Benefits of Scrum

The Benefits of Scrum are the following:

  • Scrum is a team-based approach, as a means to create value for the company. Team members work together to achieve a common goal. The Scrum methodology aims to encourage exchange between team members so that they can bring value to the business.
  • Scrum requires progress to be made on the design of the finished product at the beginning of each “Sprint”. No matter what activities are undertaken during the sprint, the focus is on delivering the product.
  • The Scrum framework is developed to promote and facilitate collaboration. Team members collaborate with each other to find the best solution for building and delivering the software, or other deliverables, to the business.
  • Scrum teams make frequent plans. These plans help the teams and the business make decisions. However, the goal is not for the team to follow the plan blindly but to enable value creation and adoption of changes in the organisation.

Scrum Training and Certification

QRP International is a training organisation that offers the Scrum certification: the Scrum Master or Scrum Product Owner.

Would you like to have more information? Don’t hesitate to write to us!

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