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What is Scrum Methodology?

Instructor: Laury Hales

Laury has taught in professional adult education settings for over 10 years and is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

Scrum is an agile project management methodology used when a project has rapidly changing requirements. Scrum has specific roles, processes and outcomes. In this lesson, you'll learn the specifics of Scrum methodology.

What Is Scrum Methodology?

Tony is a project manager who has been managing software projects for several years. His boss has asked him to conduct internal training on Scrum. Always eager to promote good Scrum practices, Tony jumps into the assignment and creates a series of slides to help demonstrate his training.

Tony decides to first explain Scrum project management. His first slide explains that Scrum is a term borrowed from Rugby teams and is a specific type of project management used when project requirements rapidly change. A key criteria of a Scrum project is that the product is developed in cycles, producing working iterations.

Knowing a picture will get the idea across better, Tony's next slide shows the overall Scrum process.

Overall Scrum Process

Planning a Scrum Project

Tony's next slides show how to start a Scrum project. Starting a Scrum project is like starting projects using other project management methodologies. Generally, all projects officially start with the project kickoff. A project kickoff brings the team together to explain the different roles of each team member, help everybody understand the project, set team expectations, provide boundaries, and provide a forum for open communication.

Going into more detail of the roles, Tony's next slide outlines the different roles and responsibilities.

Roles Responsibility
Product Owner Sets priorities based on business needs
Scrum Master The project manager
Team The people creating the product

Once the project kickoff is done, the team develops the product backlog. The product backlog is simply a list of all the things that need to be accomplished during the course of the project. The product backlog is developed by the team. Both technical and user-centric items are included.

Once the product backlog is developed, the team estimates it to provide an idea of how much effort is involved to develop the items in the list. Time estimates are not done right now. Estimating is done using points relative to other work in the backlog. Estimating in points answers the question 'How big is it?' rather than 'How long will it take?'

Now that the product backlog is estimated, the product owner must prioritize it. The prioritized list will become the basis of the team's work efforts and determine what they tackle first. Again using a visual aid, Tony's next slide shows the evolution of the product backlog.

Evolution of Product Backlog

With the kickoff done, the team assembled, and the product backlog taken care of, the project manager's next step is to plan the sprint and set up the workspace.

Tony's next slide defines sprint as a specific timeframe, lasting from 1 to 4 weeks, in which the team will develop working iterations of the product backlog. The project manager holds a workshop with the project team to determine the best sprint duration, create tasks lists for the items on the product backlog, and estimate task hours.

Finally, before any actual work is done, the team's workspace is set up to ensure optimal collaboration. A room or other workspace is dedicated to the team, and office supplies are provided. To keep track of the project schedule, burn down charts are posted where the team can readily see them. Tony adds one more visual slide, showing a burn down chart.

Sample Burn Down Chart

Get to Work

Once all the planning is complete, the team is ready to start developing the items on the product backlog. This is a 3 step process: hold daily sprints, develop and deliver the products, and review the work.

Daily Scrum meetings are a way to bring the team together to review. They are quick, usually only 15 minutes, and used to review work completed, understand what is left to do, and track progress. An important part of the daily meeting is to empower the team and removing barriers to getting the work done. Each team member should talk about 3 things:

  • What was accomplished yesterday
  • What will be done today
  • Any roadblocks or obstacles

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