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Beginner's Guide to Agile with Scrum

Scrum is an iterative method that belongs in the agile camp of how to manage and run projects. It can be used to manage almost any type of project, software, websites, hardware, marketing, event planning, etc.

This Article is available as a Presentation and can be found at the bottom of the page. 

30 Seconds Overview of Scrum

Scrum enables self-organizing groups by promoting strong communication between the team members along with a few disciplines inside the project. The Scrum model suggests that each and every sprint begins with a short planning meeting and ends with a review. These are the fundamentals of the Scrum idea for project management.

If this is already familiar to you, here's a fast hack for Implementation of Agile with Scrum.

The most appropriate projects for agile are ones with aggressive deadlines, a high degree of complexity, and a high degree of novelty (uniqueness) to them. We want to use agile when we are doing something that is new, or at least new to the team building it. If it's something the team has done before over and over then the team probably doesn't need an agile approach.

Scrum can be condensed into the following list:

  1. A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  2. During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  3. The team has a certain amount of time — a sprint (usually two to four weeks) — to complete its work, while meeting every day to assess its progress (daily Scrum).
  4. Along the way, the Scrum Master keeps the team focused on its goal.
  5. At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable: ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  6. The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  7. As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.
  8. This goes on until the project is deemed complete, either by stopping to work (deadline, budget, etc.) or by completing the entire wish list.
Scrum Framework in 30 Seconds

Scrum visualized

So, agile is most appropriate on any urgent project with significant complexity and novelty – which includes software development and weddings.

Scrum can be thought of as a framework for managing a process from beginning to end.

Roles in Scrum

There are three distinct roles defined in Scrum:

  • The Scrum Master, ensures the procedure is followed, eliminates impediments, and safeguards the team from disturbances. The Scrum Master differs from a traditional project manager in many ways, including that this role does not provide day-to-day direction to the team and does not assign tasks to individuals.
  • The Product Owner, is typically a project's key stakeholder. Part of the product owner's responsibilities is to have a vision of what he or she wishes to build, and convey that vision to the Scrum team. The foremost task of the Product Owner is to provide value to the stakeholders.
  • The Scrum Team, is a self-organizing and a cross-functional team, who does the analysis, implementation, design, testing, and so forth. Although individuals may join the team with various job titles, in Scrum, those titles are insignificant. Scrum methodology states that each person contributes in whatever way they can to complete the work of each sprint. Individuals will thus spend most (and sometimes all) of their time working in whatever discipline they know, be it analysis, design, development, test, etc.

Key Points of Scrum

Some of the key points of Scrum that many teams find attractive:

  • Self-organized with focus on the team.
  • No necessity for large amounts of documentation. Instead having very accurate and to the point stories, tasks, etc.
  • The cross functional team works together as a single unit.
  • Close communication and lots of interaction.
  • Has a definite and repeating rhythm for completing work of maximum 30 days. 
  • Instead of trying to do the whole “thing” at the same time, Scrum helps complete a small amount of everything at a given interval.
  • The ability of individuals is trusted and their availability is known before committing to anything.
forecast_workflow.png

An example of a Story board

Actions Done in Scrum

The following list will walk you through some of the main processes of Agile with Scrum.

Planning Meeting

The Sprint Planning meeting is the preliminary point of Scrum. It's the meeting where the entire Scrum team assembles; in collaboration with the Product Owner and the Scrum Master the team selects a user story from the backlog and the group brainstorms on it. Based on the conversation, the Scrum group decides the complexity of the story and decides if it should go into the sprint.

forecast_sprint-backlog.pngA typical backlog on the left, and the planned sprints on the right.

Completing Work

As the title suggests, it's necessary for the team to complete work to progress on the project. The people on the team works on stories until they are done and then they move on to the next. Typically, the stories are arranged on a board with discrete steps, so it's easy to get a feel for how the sprint is progressing.

forecast_workflow-card.pngAn example of a card or user story

Daily Scrum Meeting

Through the sprint cycle, each day the scrum team meets for maximum fifteen minutes (typically in the morning). This is also known as the daily standup meeting.

Each team member answers 3 things:

  1. What did I do yesterday? 
  2. What do I intend to do today?
  3. Explain if the person has anything blocking them from completing their work for the day.

Sprint Review Meeting

After each sprint, the team holds a Sprint Review Meeting to demonstrate a working product increment to the Product Owner and everyone else who is interested. The meeting should feature a live demonstration, not a report. The Product Owner may verify the stories according to their acceptance criteria.

Retrospective Meeting

Retrospective meeting occurs after the review meeting.

The Scrum group meets and talks about the following points:

  • Exactly what went well in the sprint.
  • Exactly what didn't go as planned in the sprint.
  • Lessons learned.
  • Action items to be acted on.

Conclusion

Here, we went through the main points of Agile with Scrum. If the description has aroused your interest, you can continue with our step-by-step guide on how to implement and get started with Scrum.

On the other hand, if Scrum doesn't feel right for your team, we also have a more general look into the space of project management methodologies, Agile vs. Waterfall, and all the major methods under each category. No method is the best, it all comes down to your combination of projects and team.

 

Dennis Kayser
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Dennis Kayser
My name is Dennis Kayser and I’m CEO and co-founder in Forecast. I enjoy helping our customers succeed by building great and innovative software that supports teams in their daily work.
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