Scrum is an agile approach that helps teams work together to complete a project. It's based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. This means that scrum teams regularly inspect their progress and make changes if needed. This project management method is designed to help teams work together more effectively and efficiently.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a lightweight framework designed specifically for keeping complex product development and project management on track. Primarily used for Agile product development, but applicable to any activity requiring teamwork, the scrum framework guides cross-functional teams to communicate, hold each other accountable, and iterate quickly and consistently to deliver results.
Why is it called scrum?
Like a rugby team (where scrum gets its name) trying to take possession of the ball, scrum encourages teams to work together and learn from their experiences to improve. It's not a prescriptive method, but rather a set of principles and well-defined roles that help teams manage their work.
The scrum framework is structured around roles, ceremonies, and artifacts.
The product owner looks over the product backlog, defines user stories, and orders the work to be done. They act as an advocate for the customer, guiding feature updates and initiatives on the customer's behalf.
Scrum leader (aka scrum master)
The Scrum leader, also called the Scrum master, is the glue that holds the team together. A Scrum leader's main job is to facilitate scrum ceremonies and nurture an environment where the team embodies agile principles and collaborates efficiently.
Scrum development team
The Scrum development team then turns part of that work into an increment of value (or goal) during a sprint planning session (e.g., in two weeks, we will complete the build out of the onboarding application). The Scrum team and its stakeholders then analyze the results and make any adjustments for the next sprint — and then repeat.
While the term might sound a bit intimidating, scrum ceremonies are relatively straightforward. Think of them as meetings designed to align the scrum team and empower them to be more effective with each increment.
Daily scrum (aka daily standup)
The daily scrum, also called the daily standup, is a 15-minute meeting that keeps the Development team aligned. Facilitated by the Scrum leader, this ceremony asks team members to succinctly answer three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are you facing any roadblocks that need to be addressed?
Sprint planning happens at the beginning of each sprint — typically, every two weeks. During this process, you and your team should discuss the technical and design aspects of upcoming sprint tasks, identifying potential challenges and dependencies.
Kick off your sprint planning with the Sprint Planning Template
The sprint review happens at the end of each sprint with the purpose of aligning key stakeholders outside of the Scrum team and getting their feedback on the deliverables from the sprint.
While the sprint review focuses on the increment itself, retrospectives are a time for the development team to reflect on the sprint process. Retros allow teams to identify what went well, what didn't, and what actions they can take to improve over the course of the next sprint.
Related: Learn more about running sprint retrospectives.
Artifacts of scrum
These three artifacts are the foundation of a successful sprint. They allow scrum teams to align on their shared priorities and work quickly toward achieving the product goal.
A product backlog is an always-evolving list of the requirements, features, enhancements, and fixes for a given product. Each item is represented by a user story and prioritized in order of importance. The product backlog is managed by the product owner.
A sprint backlog is a subset of the product backlog that outlines the stories that a scrum team is prioritizing during a sprint.
In scrum, the increment is the output of a sprint. By definition, Agile is an incremental approach to product development — so it makes sense that each increment builds upon the previous ones.
Benefits of using scrum:
1. Increased Productivity
One of the primary benefits of using scrum is that it can help to increase productivity. Scrum is a project management methodology that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. By using scrum, teams can complete projects more quickly and efficiently.
2. Improved Communication
Another benefit of using scrum is that it can improve communication among team members. Scrum promotes transparency and regular communication between team members, which can help to identify and solve problems more quickly. Regular planning sessions, stand-ups, and retrospectives encourage frequent and candid communication among team members.
3. Stronger team cohesion
Scrum provides a framework for team members to brainstorm and generate new ideas. The combination of regular communication and collaboration encouraged by scrum helps teams grow better at working together and builds trust.
Scrum vs Kanban
Scrum is based on fixed-length sprints, whereas kanban is more flexible and can be adapted to changing conditions. Scrum also focuses on delivering a complete product at the end of each sprint, while kanban emphasizes continuous delivery.
In terms of team dynamics, scrum uses a traditional project management structure with distinct roles for members of the team, while kanban adopts a more flat and decentralized approach. Finally, scrum places more emphasis on documentation and planning, while kanban focuses on streamlining the process and eliminating waste.
Ultimately, both scrum and kanban can be effective methods for managing software development projects, but the best approach will depend on the specific needs of the team and the project.
Related: Learn more about how Scrum and Kanban are tracked differently
The bottom line
Most commonly used for effective agile software development, scrum is a common method of tracking projects and keeping a team aligned. Scrum encourages teams to work together and learn from their experiences to continually improve after each iteration. This is why the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation are such important tenets of the methodology.
Mural makes it easy to implement, teach, and use scrum for team project management. Get started with a Free Forever account today, and add unlimited members so that your whole team can get aligned and engaged with Mural's suite of collaboration features.