Scrum Methodology has been in software development for over three decades. Even tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook choose this popular agile method! What is it that makes Scrum so popular? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Scrum. Further, this will include its benefits and when to use it. We’ll also answer some frequent questions about this topic. But first, let’s take a step back and look at where Scrum stems from: the Agile Software Development approach.
What is Agile?
Agile is a Project Management and Software Development approach for cross-functional teams. It focuses on iterative development. As a result, Agile teams deliver work in small increments. They work in sprints or iterations, including development and testing. Agile involves close collaboration between developers and stakeholders. It also entails regular deliveries, frequent inspections, self-organization, and adaptability to change. There are two main Agile development frameworks: scrum and kanban. While this article focuses on Scrum, we’ll give you an idea of what Kanban entails in the FAQs section.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile Software Development Framework. Its primary purpose is to help organize and manage the various parts of a project. Moreover, it focuses on delivering value in the least amount of time. In Scrum, work goes into sprints. These are iterations that often last two to four weeks. Each sprint has specific goals to meet within the specified period. The goal is to meet the client or user’s needs while working in a transparent environment. Further, it relies on collective responsibility instead of a hierarchical team.
Among specialists, there are common values highlights when defining a team's success when using Scrum. These are Focus, Respect, Courage, Commitment, and Openness. Further, there are the six Scrum principles. These are Time-Boxing, Collaboration, Self-Organization, Value-Based Prioritization, Empirical Process Control, and Iterative Development.
How does the Scrum Methodology work?
Now that we know Scrum, let's look at how it tackles the development process. The first step is, of course, defining what needs to be built. Later, the product owner drafts features and functionalities called the "product backlog." We'll look into the product owners below.
Once this list is ready, the team decides what they will work on during the first sprint. And after finishing the first sprint, the process repeats until the end of the product's life. That was the short, compacted version of the scrum process. Below, we'll look at the different cogs that make the Scrum machine move smoothly. These include the elements and tools used and the detailed Scrum lifecycle. Further, the different roles you find within the Scrum team. These concepts will give you a thorough understanding of the inner Scrum workings.
Scrum Elements and Tools
— Product Backlogs. The Product Backlog includes all features and functions needed to complete the product. The product owner creates this list and organizes its priorities. Often, the order depends on what is more or less critical from a business point of view.
— Sprint Backlogs. This is a list of items from the product backlog the team decides to include in a given sprint. This list is then organized into a Scrum Board by the development team. Here, team members need to be realistic about what they can achieve in the given time.
— Increments. The increments are all the developed elements over the latest sprint. These advances add up to anything built since the beginning of the projects. Here lies the integration, testing, and deployment of all features and functionalities.
— Scrum Boards. This is a board the team uses to keep track of the tasks during each sprint, called Scrum Board. Usually, these boards have three columns: to do, doing, and done. You can add extra columns as needed. For example, you might have one called "testing" or another name "user stories."
— Burndown Charts. These charts are visual aids allowing the team to see what is already done and what is not during a sprint. These are useful to predict how likely teams can complete the remaining tasks by the end of the sprint.
What is the Scrum Methodology Lifecycle?
1. Sprint Planning. There is a meeting at the beginning of each sprint.Teams discuss and plan everything, the whats, whos, and hows of that sprint.
2. Daily Scrum. This is a daily meeting where team members discuss what they’ve accomplished so far. Also, they use this time to ensure they are all on the same page for that day's work. The daily Scrum is a short meeting that shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes.
3. Sprint Review. At this stage, teams and maybe stakeholders review the sprint's advances. Further, they compare it to the product's initial goals.
4. Sprint Retrospective. This is an opportunity for the Scrum team to review the goals they met and go over the ups and downs of the last sprint. If there are opportunities for improvement, teams discuss strategies for the following sprint with sprint retrospectives.
What are the Roles in Scrum Methodology?
The Scrum Master leads the dev team on everything related to this methodology. They act as facilitators, ensuring teams follow Scrum rules and processes. Further, Masters provide support to the development team whenever they need it. This support includes training, mentoring, and coaching. Another responsibility is to cut roadblocks that may come during development. Further, they work along with Product Owners to achieve a high ROI.
Defining the product's features or characteristics relies on Product Owners. They're responsible for sending the product vision to the team to maximize the final value. Besides, the PO handles the changes in the product backlog. As a consequence, they ensure project deliverables adapt to evolving requirements. While it answers to stakeholders, this role also represents customers. In sum, Product Owners focus on the business edges of the project.
The Dev Team is the one with the skills and knowledge needed to complete the project. Not only this include developers but also designers, writers, and testers.
Why Should You Use Scrum Methodology?
If you aren’t sold on Scrum yet, here are some reasons you should use this framework.
1. Adaptability. Scrum divides tasks into short-term iterations or sprints. As a result, teams are constantly checking in and making relevant updates. This way, changes are able as soon as a problem arises or if any update doesn't meet the product requirements.
2. Flexibility. Scrum teams are flexible when arranging the work as they see fit as long as tasks get done.
3. Transparency. Product Owners ensure stakeholders are always up to date with the project. This way, they feel more involved in the entire development process.
4. Quality. Scrum entails teams reflecting on their work and processes. As a consequence, teams tend to work better and more efficiently. In turn, this method leads to better-quality end products.
5. Scalability. Given its iterative nature, teams can focus on specific features during each sprint. With this process, they can quickly scale up any module aspect, like design or scope.
6. Expectations. With each step, Product Owners can verify that stakeholders' requirements are being met. If any issues arise, they can make the relevant adjustments to meet expectations.
What Projects are Suitable for Scrum?
In theory, any project can take a Scrum approach. Yet, there are projects or teams where Scrum is ideal. For instance, cross-functional teams with clearly-defined increments. Moreover, Scrum is perfect for projects that need quick and continuous deliveries.
About companies using Scrum, there are pretty big names. Google, Amazon, Lego, IBM, and Airbnb are some of them. Yet, another highlight is that the applications of this approach are far-reaching. In fact, Software Development is not the only field with Scrum. Also, industries like engineering, education, and healthcare use it.
Agile vs. Scrum
Are Scrum and Agile the same thing? No, but Scrum is part of Agile. Agile is a software development philosophy that follows specific core values and principles. Meanwhile, Scrum is one possible agile framework. Other approaches are Kanban, Extreme Programming, and Lean Development.
Scrum vs. Waterfall
Is Scrum better than Waterfall? Before we answer this question, let’s go over the waterfall model. The Waterfall or linear-sequential life cycle model dates back to the 1950s. Mainly, it focuses on finishing each phase before starting the next one. As a result, there is no overlapping between the different stages of a project. Now that we know what Waterfall is, let’s compare it to Scrum.
As you can see, we can’t say that Scrum is better than Waterfall. The choice depends on the specific project. Yet, some aspects drive the choice of one over the other. While Scrum is value-based, Waterfall is schedule-based. Besides, Scrum is great for complex and complete projects. In contrast, the Waterfall model works best with small projects. Scrum is ideal for single teams with excellent communication. Moreover, it comes in handy in projects without strict expectations. If your project is on a strict timeline, with a strict budget and requirements, Waterfall is the way to go.
Scrum vs. Kanban
Like we did with Waterfall, let's cover what Kanban generally entails. Kanban is an Agile framework that relies upon visual systems to organize work. Here, items are on a board, like with Scrum. These elements resemble a to-do list, with the to-do, doing, and done columns. I know what you're thinking; it does look pretty similar so far. So, what are the differences? We summarize them in the table below.
Given its differences, the choice relies on both the type of project and the team you're working with. As mentioned, Scrum is great for cross-functional teams working on defined tasks. Meanwhile, Kanban is ideal for teams working on highly-unpredictable projects. Further, it's easier to adapt and change priorities with Kanban. Although Scrum and Kanban are different, there are also hybrid models.
As seen, Scrum is an excellent tool for carrying out Software Development projects. Not only it ensures the finished product makes both stakeholders and users happy. Besides, it gives developers the freedom to work in the way that suits them best. We hope this article answers any questions about Scrum. Are you ready to give the Scrum Methodology a chance?