It is based on the concept of “KISS” (i.e. Keep it Simple Stupid); by only specifying a few concepts and letting you and your organization fill in the gaps. Scrum is considered an Agile method, because the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto can be found throughout. Scrum is also based on its own set of values; commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage. According to a VersionOne survey (1), Scrum is the most popular of the Agile Methods.

In Scrum we have 3 primary roles;

The Team is the group of individuals who get the work done, The Product Owner represents the Stakeholders desires to the Team, and the ScrumMaster is the grease that keeps everything running smoothly. Everyone else is considered a Stakeholder and their input is valued and needed throughout the process.

Everyone’s ideas for the Product go into what we call the Product Backlog. You can think of the Product Backlog as an iceberg, it’s a dynamic entity. New ideas are constantly coming in and old ideas are falling off the bottom, melting away. The Product Owner maintains the Product Backlog; taking in new ideas, refining existing ideas, and always keeping it in priority order, based on everyone’s feedback.

The Stakeholders want to get the Product built and we accomplish this through executing 1 or more Sprints. A Sprint is a period of time (Typically 2 to 4 weeks) at the end of which we expect to have a Potentially Shippable Product Increment (A functional piece of the Product).

The Sprint starts with a Sprint Planning meeting. In this meeting there are 2 primary conversations; the first conversation is the Product Owner presenting the highest Priority Product Backlog Items to the Team and the Team figuring out which ones they are comfortable getting Done, the second part of the conversation is the Team getting technical and figuring out the Tasks necessary to get the agreed upon Product Backlog Items complete. Once the scope of the Sprint is set, the Team is now ready to start building.

Every day there is a heartbeat in the Sprint that is the Daily Scrum meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for the Team to come together briefly to; discuss their progress, ask for help, and synchronize their efforts. We may also incorporate other tools during the Sprint, in order to promote transparency, like Burn-Down Charts and Scrum Boards.

At the end of the Sprint it’s time to Inspect and Adapt in order to improve. First we Inspect and Adapt the Product in a meeting called the Sprint Review. This is an opportunity to invite the Stakeholders in, give them a demo, and seek their feedback. The feedback from this meeting becomes new Product Backlog Items that go into the Product Backlog for future consideration.

After the Sprint Review meeting we dismiss the Stakeholders and the Scrum Team (Team, Product Owner, and ScrumMaster) meets in order to Inspect and Adapt the process. The Scrum Team looks at what worked well, what needs improvement, and they leave the meeting with Tasks to make change for their betterment. 

The output of every Sprint is a Potentially Shippable Product Increment, another brick in the proverbial wall. The decision of whether to give this functionality to the Stakeholders then becomes a business decision to be made by the Product Owner.

Sprints continue, one-after-the-other until the Product Owner calls the development effort Done. This can happen when a targeted date has been reached, the budget has been depleted, or enough Business Value has been delivered to meet the needs of the Stakeholders.