This wiki page article will try to help the reader gain knowledge about the agile managing method SCRUM and focus on SCRUM as a project management framework and the implementation. The SCRUM method is a very popular agile managing method, and the internet provides a whole ocean with information on the topic. SCRUM has even become that popular that it is possible to take an education in SCRUM which allows you to become a SCRUM-master. Since the world we live in is in a every changing stage and decisions and projects becomes more and more complex, the ability to control and handle project managing is that more important. So called standard project frameworks as the waterfall-model will in some cases not be applicable. Because of this very reason, SCRUM, which is an adaptive project management framework can be used instead since the method exceed in agility and fast project deliveries if used correct. It should be mentioned that SCRUM is part of the project and development life cycle in the PMI standard.
History of SCRUM
Back in the 1990’s the SCRUM framework was developed by Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland and was based on LEAN thinking and mainly derives from software development. The word SCRUM itself Jeff Sutherland borrowed from a paper by Takeuchi and Nonaka, published in the Harvard Business Review. In this paper they used the word SCRUM as an analogy for high-performing and cross-functional product development teams with a so-called Scrum formation which are when the play is a rugby match is reset. Today as before mention the SCRUM framework has become a popular way for organization to be more agile and a deal with various project types. Organization who uses this framework will have an easier time when it comes to structure the development life cycle of projects by having transparency, continues improvements and in general embrace change during projects. The soul process in SCRUM is to first and foremost create the backlog of the product and thereafter define the so-called sprint, by making sprint backlogs and then make performing development results, often measured in pre chosen KPI’s in an increment. Working in an incrementally way, the project team can thereby make continues improvements and learn from previous sprint and optimize. This framework then create value in an adaptive and agile way through the team, events, and SCRUM-values.
Why use SCRUM
So why do we really want to use the SCRUM model instead of the classic Waterfall model. There are many reasons behind this choice but mainly it is the skill to survive and out compete competitors on the marked when it comes to being agile and flexible so you as an organization can have success. The SCRUM framework is a relatively easy and simple framework to adapt and can fulfill own needs and goals. For addressing Agility it is in general acknowledge in the PMI standard for being one of the crucial parts of determining the project life cycle in an adaptive manner.
The SCRUM theory is based on empiricism (Insert reference), which is a philosophic term and means that all concepts originate in experience and that decision making should always be based on something that is observable. Furtherer more the decisions should also be based on the LEAN thinking that waste should be eliminated and there should be focus on what is value-adding. SCRUM also incorporate transparency, adaptation, and inspection. These three things further help in dealing with risks and dealing with unknown problems since they may be identified faster. This is an incredible feature when it comes to the current global business marked which is in a ongoing changing state.
Application and Implementation
When SCRUM is applied it is used as a framework that is managing the life cycle development of a project from start to finish. As previous mention SCRUM is often used in software development but can be implemented in almost every other type of project regardless. In the following section will dive deeper into the framework and describe the different types of blocks which it contains.
The Framework in a whole
Since every project every vary from one another the SCRUM framework needs to be modified so it fits the specific project. All the following steps will describe the basic required steps which needs to be performed to successful implement SCRUM framework into a project.
Values is what generate something that benefit something. Regarding SCRUM there is referred to five different types of values. These values are focus, respect, openness, commitment and courage. The values are made real through reaching and committing to the goals of the project while working and learning from the SCRUM framework. Since a project never runes into some inconvenient problem or issue these values serves as a important aspect when it comes to teamwork.
The SCRUM team consist of different persons which will be describe in details below but mention here. These persons are the product owner (PO), the development team (DT) and the SCRUM-master (SM). All these persons are highly skilled in their field, people who can self-organize and are professional. The team will work together during the project and generate value during each sprint towards the finish product.
1. The Product Owner
When trying to identify the product owner this person should have the ability to understand and interpretative the stakeholders needs and requirements in the Production Backlog. A product owner also needs to have certain trades as being communicative, good at prioritizing and have a strong personality since they will be the one leading. If these things are not done correctly the value of the outcome will be affected.
2. The Team
The team which is also referred to as the development team can consist of a range of people up till nine, this of course depends on the project. These team members need to have certain necessary skills and expertise e.g. designers, analysts, developers, etc. so the finish product will be as desired. Furthermore, it is preferred that these team members can be working cross-functional and can organize themselves since this generate ownership of the project. The last but not least the team members need to be able to adapt and change during the project process if certain events might happen.
3. The SCRUM-Master
The SCRUM-master differs from the product owner which task is to define why the project itself is necessary and the team which task is to define what is needed to be done in order to reach the desired value of the project. The master’s role is to define how they will reach the desired product, but most importantly the SCRUM-master are not to be managing the team in anyway. They are merely to be helping the team in any way that seems fit so the other people can be successful at their job.
The soul core of the SCRUM is the events and is what that makes it agile since it creates a shared flow for the team. As previous mention the SCRUM framework in iterations. When the project owner has been able to define the scope of the project they are working on the first iteration of the sprint can begin. All the events involved in the sprint will be describes in detail further down.
Sprints in SCRUM are the foundation. They usually take two to four weeks where the ideas made by the development team turns into value so the sprint goal can be achieved. By making sure that these sprints are not any longer ensures that the engagement and focus from the team is still present. The sprint itself consist of all the events described below but will briefly be touch upon. First the sprint will start with a sprint planning which purpose is to define the sprint backlog which are based on the sprint goals. After this work has been done the sprint itself can begin. During the sprint the SCRUM-master will daily host a meeting for the development team so information can be shared. The reasons for having these daily meetings helps out when it comes to transparency, predictability and decrease risk. The final step in the sprint is the sprint retrospective. Here the development team will have time to evaluate the things that went well or bad during the sprint, which they can eventually learn from for future sprints.
2. Daily SCRUM
Regarding the daily SCRUM it is a meeting which is taken place every day at the same time and takes a maximum of 15 minutes. The reasoning for this is that everybody can keep track of progress of the project. Furthermore, these meetings also ensure that everybody in the team have the opportunity to communicate and promote any potential risk and issues which then can be addressed quickly.
3. Sprint Review
In the sprint review phase the team demonstrate to the relevant stakeholders what items they have completed according to the backlog items. This is the phase where the product owner has the leading role since this person is the one with direct relations to the different stakeholders. Here the development team also get to showcase prototypes of the product. If the project e.g. is dealing with software the current features or core idea of the function can be shown. If the product does not meet the required goals and the stakeholders are not satisfied with the outcome the product backlog will be adjusted so it will meet the goal.
4. Sprint Retrospective
As before mentions the last phase in the sprint is the retrospective phase. In this phase the SCRUM-master is the host of the meeting where the development team can review how the sprint went. This is where the team can talk about and raise concerns to problems or issues they have encountered during the sprint and actions will be taken towards solving them.
The SCRUM artifacts is what indicates value and will in a whole increase transparency.
1. Product Backlog
The product backlog is a very important artifact and is owned by the product owner. This backlog contains a long list of all the requirements from the stakeholder which needs to be fulfilled so the final product goal can be reached. All the different items on this list need to be in prioritized in descending order and specified. Some of these items on the list can be grouped into logical groupings which can be different user stories. A user story is defined work which will generate value for the customer. Since the product owner is the owner of the product backlog this person decides which user stories should be handle in the certain sprint.
2. Sprint Backlog
The sprint backlog is created by the development team when the sprint planning is taken place. This plan is consisting of goals which explains why it is valuable. Here items from the product backlog is used to define what work should be done to reach an increment. The main focus of the sprint backlog should be transparency a visibility so they are easy to read and understand. There are many different tools which can used and help with the visibility. A tool here can be a Kanban board. A Kanban board can help the team visualize where they are in the process and what actions is the next to come to help them fulfill the increment. When the sprint is taking place and the work is overviewed during the daily SCRUM meetings adjustments can be made.
As explained SCRUM is a very valuable framework and can be used regarding many different projects but of course have downfalls and cannot always be applicable. In cases where it is not applicable is projects which by their nature is not that complex. In these less complex projects all the iterations and many feedback loops will not necessarily be generate value where a more straight forward approach will be of better use.
As a general theme through the SCRUM framework it is highly necessary that the team who is doing the project need to have certain prementioned skills such as being self-organized, etc. if these things are not present and the team is not on the same page and understand the framework of SCRUM it will run in to a pitfall.
Last but not least the biggest issue when it comes to implementing SCRUM in an organization is the cultural change it brings with it. As a company you cannot just pick up SCRUM and simply implement it during a project to managing tool and framework. For many people who have not been working with the framework and the philosophy before it is an entirely new way of thinking. So to probably use the SCRUM framework a slowly and time consuming training and education is needed to fully benefit from it.
1. Sutherland Ph.D, Jeff; Schwaber, Ken(2020): The Scrum Guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game.
2. McKenna, Dave (2016): The Art of Scrum. How Scrum Masters Bind Dev Teams and Unleash Agility. Apress, Berkeley, CA.
3. What Is Scrum in Project Management?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M12HSYZkrgQ
4. Agile project management with Scrum: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-project-management-scrum-6269