What Exactly is Scrum?

The most simple response to “what exactly is Scrum?” is that Scrum is a great framework for developers. But why is this?

Well, in a competitive software development market, things need to move fast. Newer technologies become available and customer needs evolve quickly. This also means that development teams must move fast. Also, they must be able to adapt and react to the changing market to stay competitive.

This is where Scrum comes in. It allows teams to pivot quicker and get working products out faster. Ultimately, this means more revenue for the company, and, maybe more importantly, better products.

But what exactly is Scrum? In this post we’ll look at this methodology in more detail.

 

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a framework that makes it easier for teams, development or otherwise, to effectively collaborate and work on products. It’s an iterative and incremental structure for project management used in Agile software development. It aims to provide functional software while also being versatile enough to allow teams to adapt faster to changing market needs.

In simple terms, Scrum is a way to get work done.

The core fundamentals of the Scrum methodology are that it is:

  • Iterative. It’s iterative because it supports development of a product through successive refinements. The Team takes the first step in a project based on the customer’s requirements. They then write the code. After this they iteratively refine specific parts of the product until it’s acceptable for the customer. In each successive iteration, they add further details and improve the product.
  • Incremental. It’s incremental because the software is built and delivered in parts. Here, each increment represents a part of the final product. Each of these increments are fully coded, tested and delivered throughout the project. These iterations are carried out in sprints and each sprint is for a fixed period of time.

In practice it’s best to think of a Scrum Team as a group of researchers following the scientific method. Here, they develop a hypothesis, design experiments to test the hypothesis, and execute the experiments to test the results of the experiment.

If Stakeholders are happy with their progress, they keep going. If the Stakeholders aren’t, the team comes up with a new hypothesis and runs another experiment for a future iteration. Basically, it’s trial and error at its finest, but in a controlled and structured way.

 

What’s the Difference Between Scrum and Agile?

Because Agile and Scrum are similar, they are often confused. This is because they both rely on an iterative process, frequent client interaction, and collaborative decision-making. There are however some distinct differences.

The first is obviously that Agile is a project management philosophy that uses a core set of values or principles, while Scrum is a specific Agile methodology that’s used to facilitate a project. We like to say that Agile is the generic (think tissues) and Scrum as the brand name (think Kleenex).

Put another way, Scrum has a specific way of implementing generic Agile concepts. For example, Agile calls for work to be completed in short periods of time called Iterations, while Scrum implements Iterations with the concept of Sprints. It also shares the same values and principles as all Agile methods.

 

What Are the Scrum Values?

As mentioned, Scrum is considered an Agile methodology. This is because the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto is found throughout Scrum. Despite this, Scrum is also based on its own set of values:

These are:

  • Scrum Teams must be committed to progress and they should be willing to stick to practical objectives. This is a Team activity, and everyone on the Team is accountable to work together and to conform to their commitments. This value is expressed in three ways—sprint-based commitment, commitment as a team, and commitment as an individual.
  • The incremental approach in Scrum helps teams to stay focused towards the project goal. This means that, once the requirements are clear and the goal is set, the most effective way to reach the goal is to be goal orientated.
  • The Scrum induction requires transparency and openness, and the Team needs to investigate the reality with a specific end goal to make sensible adjustments. Therefore, Team Members should be open about their work and progress, what they learned, and the issues they’re facing.
  • As part of a Scrum Team, every Team Member should respect their colleagues, their decisions, and their experience. As an efficient team member, a scrum Team Member should also respect diversity and stakeholders by building only things which people are interested in. Finally, they should respect users by resolving their problems.
  • Adaptability to change is one of the cornerstones of any Scrum project and as a Scrum Team, to accept the change, courage is needed.

 

What Are the Different Roles in Scrum Methodology?

There are three core roles in a Scrum team. These are the:

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is the facilitator of the Scrum development process. In addition to holding daily meetings with the Team, the Scrum Master also ensures that the rules are being enforced and applied. Other responsibilities also include coaching and motivating the team, removing hurdles to Sprints, and ensuring that the Team meets its goals and produces deliverable products.

Product Owner

The Product Owner represents the Stakeholders, who are typically customers. They ensure that the Team always delivers value, determines product expectations, records changes to the product, and administers a Scrum Backlog. The product owner is also responsible for prioritizing the goals for each sprint so that the most important and deliverable features are built in each iteration.

Developers

The Developers are a group of three to nine individuals that have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the actual work, solve problems, and produce products.

 

What Makes Scrum Different From the Traditional Plan-Driven Approach?

Scrum is considered to be an empirical development method. In contrast, a traditional plan-driven approach is considered defined. For an empirical method like Scrum to be successful it’s necessary to consider the following:

  • Making it visible because the team can’t evaluate what they can’t see.
  • It’s necessary for the team to take time out frequently to see their progress.
  • When the work goes off track, the team makes changes to bring it back on track.

 

Final Thoughts

As the most popular of the Agile methodologies, Scrum allows for more effective collaboration in teams who are working on complicated projects, for companies that value results, and companies that take a customer-centric approach.

If you’d like to know more about Scrum or Agile, visit our website or contact us for more information. At the Braintrust Consulting Group, we are worldwide leaders in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban.

Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction.