What is Scrum?
With tons of software developers buzzing about Agile Scrum and daily standups, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed.
I mean, there’s only so many times that you can nod at the watercooler without knowing a thing, right?
But don’t worry.
It’s far easier than it sounds!
In this Scrum guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Scrum to help you understand how it can help you and your team.
This Scrum Guide Contains:
(click on the links to jump to a section)
- What Is Scrum?
- What are Scrum artifacts?
- What are the key Scrum roles?
- What are Scrum events?
- The best Scrum tool for 2020
Let’s get started.
What is Scrum?
While Scrum sounds like a complex acronym for the next major breakthrough in clinical microbiology, it isn’t.
Scrum is super simple:
It’s a project management methodology that helps teams, particularly software teams, manage their product development.
How does the process work?
In Scrum, your project is broken down into smaller cycles (called sprints) that are tackled independently. Each of these sprints lasts about 2-4 weeks and will help you quickly develop your project and reach your deadlines on time.
After each cycle is completed, it’s presented to stakeholders (usually customers) who give you their feedback. You then implement their recommendations before moving on to the next cycle.
This is very different from a traditional project management process, like the Waterfall model, where you develop a complete product before shipping it to customers.
Here’s an example:
Say you were developing an app.
If you use traditional methods like Waterfall, you’d do all the planning, testing and developing by yourself over a year.
You’d then present it to your customers – expecting them to appreciate all the hard work you put in.
The problem is, they might not love everything about it.
Remember, you’ve built this app by assuming what they want and need. Those assumptions may not have been accurate.
Instead, if you used Scrum, you could’ve actively involved them each step of the way and got their inputs.
How does this help?
There are two key benefits of using the Scrum methodology:
1. As you’re not attempting the entire project at once, it’s easier to make changes in case something goes wrong. For example, in case there’s a technical glitch, you only have to redo one project cycle – you won’t have to redo the entire thing (PHEW!)
2. The sprint-based approach allows you to get feedback from stakeholders at the end of each cycle and incorporate it into your development. With this, you’re actively involving the customers and can create a final product that they love!
Remember the phrase: “for the customers, by the customers?”
Scrum ensures that it’s a real thing and not just a marketing gimmick!
What is the Scrum methodology derived from?
Scrum is an Agile-based project management methodology.
But wait, what’s Agile?!
The Agile framework is a broad classification of management methodologies that are based on the sprint approach.
While each Agile method is unique, all Agile methods follow the Agile Manifesto.
What’s the Agile Manifesto?
The Agile Manifesto is a brief summation of the Agile methodology and what it stands for. It consists of 12 key principles that guide Agile development.
And like any “manifesto”, you have to take it very seriously!
You have to diligently follow these principles to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
Here’s a summation of those principles:
Agile principles of customer satisfaction – Your customer should always be your priority. Inspect and adapt to changing needs and feedback to deliver a working product that they’re happy with.
Agile principles of quality – Your primary measurement of success is your customer’s satisfaction. This is achieved with sustainable, test-driven development that leads to continuous improvement.
Agile principles of teamwork – Team members should always be actively involved and motivated. Empower your team, treat them as capable individuals and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Agile principles of project management – Keep your test-driven development simple and evaluate them constantly. Remove all unnecessary processes to speed things up and optimize things constantly.
So what does all of that translate into?
Agile methods inspect and adapt to changing requirements over time and encourage constant feedback from the end users. They implement customer feedback at all levels to ensure that the final product is something they won’t stop raving about!
So how does the Scrum methodology fit in with the agile framework?
Think of it this way, if agile is a diet; Scrum is a recipe to facilitate that diet.
Basically, Scrum is a subset of the Agile framework, with scrum values building on these Agile principles.
The goal of Scrum is to take the test-driven development principles and make them faster, simpler, and more flexible.
In fact, you can combine Scrum with other Agile methods like the Kanban method or Extreme Programming for more efficiency.
Who can benefit from Scrum?
Agile methods like Scrum are naturally suited to software development teams.
As software development projects usually involve rigorous customer testing and are highly flexible, Scrum suits it perfectly.
However, Agile software development isn’t the only place where Scrum is used.
Despite its roots in the tech world, Scrum lends itself to any kind of environment.
This includes anything from development teams, marketing agencies, and sales organizations to small businesses with just a few employees.
Scrum doesn’t discriminate – it can help everyone!
What are Scrum artifacts?
Scrum artifacts sound like lost remnants of some abandoned cave that Indiana Jones explored.
But they’re actually core elements of Scrum.
They form the backbone of your processes to ensure that Scrum works effectively.
Here’s a closer look at these artifacts that shape the Scrum framework:
A. Product Backlog
The product backlog is a prioritized list of tasks that must be completed, as well as everything that needs to happen to make a project a reality.
It’s essentially a to-do list of everything that needs to be done to finish a project.
Usually, product backlog items are presented as user stories to make them easier to apply.
What are user stories?
User stories are a core part of the Agile Scrum methodology.
They’re descriptions of features from the perspective of the end user. In the Agile methodology, the user story takes the form of this simple sentence:
“As a [end user role], I want [the desire] so that [the rationale].”
The developers then consider that user story as they build and create features in their workflow. This is meant to help product owners and scrum team members consider the user’s perspective instead of their own.
But, what about my product backlog?
As Scrum is such a dynamic project management methodology, none of its artifacts can remain static. That’s why your product backlog items constantly change as your project progresses.
How does this happen?
As you get customer feedback after every cycle, you’ll have a better idea of what customers want and need. You can then add product backlog items to ensure that your final product reflects their requirements.
B. Sprint Backlog
The sprint backlog is essentially a product backlog – except it only contains items for a particular sprint.
Just like the product backlog, the sprint backlog is extremely flexible as your development team modifies its stories according to the feedback they get.
No, this isn’t your annual pay raise.
The increment is the usable end product from each sprint.
For example, if a sprint was focused on creating an app feature, that finished feature is termed as the sprint’s increment.
What are the key Scrum roles?
So it’s clear that Scrum is a specialized project management methodology.
But what about the people that run it?
Shouldn’t they be special too?
While every company and Scrum team is different, they all usually contain three key Scrum roles. These three parties have to constantly collaborate with each other to ensure that the project meets its deadlines.
Here’s a closer look at these Scrum roles:
A. Product Owner
SCRUM starts with the Scrum product owner.
They have a vision for what the final product needs to be. He or she knows the product requirements and makes final decisions on what is included or excluded. The owner is also the person who presents each increment to the stakeholders and relays the feedback to the Scrum team.
It’s essential that there’s only one Scrum product owner in each project and that their authority goes uncontested.
Well, would you put both Archie and Reggie in charge of the party arrangements?
If you have more than one owner, there’s going to be no clear leadership in place – which will complicate decision making.
If you have more than one Scrum product owner, you’re going to deal with this:
As there’s so much responsibility on the product owner, it’s also important that they have proper Scrum training. Usually, product owners can get the right Scrum training and certification from professional Scrum groups like Agile Alliance.
B. Scrum Master
In the Scrum framework, the Scrum Master is essentially a project manager with a cooler name.
He or she holds the product development together and keeps the team accountable to those goals and deliverables.
A big function of the Scrum Master’s job is to promote community and harmony within the team. They’re not necessarily seeking ROI (even though that is a factor) but are trying to promote the right practices to streamline the Agile process.
However, the roles and duties of a Scrum Master vary on a company-by-company basis.
In one Agile organization, the Scrum Master might be responsible for part of the product development process itself. In a larger Agile organization, they may simply be a mediator and coach in product development.
As the role of Scrum Master varies so much from a regular project manager, they can’t instantly manage Scrum teams. It’s recommended that every project manager becomes a certified Scrum master before taking on the role.
They should ideally undergo thorough Scrum training from professional Scrum groups and get a certification before managing these projects.
C. The Scrum Development Team
The scrum development team is probably the hardest working team in the world.
Scrum teams are small 5-7 member teams that do most of the work on a project. Scrum team members usually have different skill-sets and cross-train their coworkers to ensure that nobody slows down their processes.
Scrum teams are also highly self-organizing and assist each other to reach their goals with minimal outside assistance.
Due to the level of self-sufficiency needed, Scrum team members need to be thoroughly trained and experienced to carry out their duties. While they’re not forced to get a Scrum certification from a professional Scrum institute, it’s recommended.
What are the key Scrum ceremonies (events)?
The Scrum framework is based on a sequence of these repetitive events that keep the project on track. They’re vital to a project’s progress and you can’t make do without them.
Here’s a closer look at these ceremonies that guide Agile development:
A. Backlog planning
This is the first Scrum planning meeting.
Here, the product owner starts to build the product backlog to give the team an idea of all the tasks and stories they’re going to handle. As your product backlog constantly changes with new customer feedback, this event never really ends.
You’ll have to constantly make planning adjustments to your product backlog until your product is finished.
B. Sprint planning
Sprint planning is another core part of the Scrum and Agile process.
In the sprint planning stage, the entire development team decides on the scope (planned work) for an individual sprint.
The team goes over the existing stories in the product backlog and decides on which ones they’ll attempt in this sprint. The team then decides on the deadlines for this sprint and divides the task responsibilities among themselves.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear sprints?
Or maybe the neighborhood kids running at full pace, right?
That’s pretty much what sprints are in the Agile process too!
They’re usually two-week periods which encapsulate a project session.
It’s where your development team:
- Actively works on a product
- Will inspect and adapt to customer feedback
- Checks in with each other
While most sprints have a “sprint goal” that consists of a set of deliverables, those goals can be flexible. This is because sprints have to take customer feedback into account and if the customer needs some changes, the sprint has to accommodate that.
D. Daily Standups
Daily standups are super-fast, daily scrum meetings for progress updates on everything about the product backlog. Teams use the daily scrum meeting to go over what happened yesterday and prepare for the upcoming work.
Daily scrum meetings should:
- Be less than 15 minutes
- Have all team members present
- Be run by the Scrum Master who keeps everyone on task
- Be in the morning to reflect on the previous day and set the agenda for the next
Remember, the daily scrum meeting is not a meeting to resolve project impediments.
Progress impediments that are raised are usually dealt with by the relevant subgroup immediately following the meeting.
During the daily Scrum meetings, each team member answers the following three questions as part of the Scrum process:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are there any impediments in your way on the project?
The big daily scrum meeting: Scrum of Scrums
Scrum of Scrums sounds like the final battle in a fantasy TV series about Scrum management, right?
Sadly, it’s not.
Sometimes, teams divide themselves into multiple Scrum teams to cope with large project demands.
While these teams all work towards the same goal, they work fairly independently.
However, as there are multiple teams engaged, they need to coordinate too, right?
That’s where the Scrum of Scrums meeting comes into play.
Here, representatives of each individual team come together to update everyone on their progress. The Scrum of Scrums ensures that everyone’s on the same page and is clued in about what everyone’s doing.
E. Sprint Review (Sprint Retrospective)
Each Sprint ends with a retrospective meeting or sprint review, where teams have a meeting to review the last sprint and discuss how to improve things.
Remember, learning from feedback is a key part of the Agile Scrum methodology and this gives team members fabulous opportunities to learn.
By reflecting on what went wrong and ideas for improvement, teams use the sprint review to systematically improve over time.
How to keep the Agile Scrum methodology running smoothly
Sure, Scrum roles, artifacts and ceremonies help you build the Scrum framework.
But they’re not enough to manage your projects entirely.
If you really want to benefit from Scrum Kanban and other Agile methods, you need to use the right Agile software.
Without Agile software, your team isn’t going to have a consolidated place for all their activities. They’re going to have to switch between multiple apps for a rough idea of what’s going on.
(and with Scrum projects, there’s a LOT usually going on!)
Good Agile software will help Agile teams:
- Track their project progress
- Keep track of their product backlog items, user stories and story points
- Collaborate with each other and project stakeholders
The Best Agile Scrum Tool For 2020: ClickUp
ClickUp has tons of features to help you with Agile and Scrum projects, like:
- cope with changing task stages with multiple views
- track what your sprints contain with sprint lists
- monitor task progress with Agile dashboards
- keep up with task stages with custom statuses
- facilitate instant communication with assigned comments
Here’s a quick look at how these features help Agile and Scrum development:
1. Multiple Views that help you manage various project requirements
Agile and Scrum are all about adapting to changing customer requirements, right?
That’s why your project management tool should be capable of handling these changing needs too.
Instead of using a rigid management tool that forces your Agile teams to adapt to its interface, use ClickUp!
It gives you Multiple Views to instantly adapt to the Scrum and Agile approach.
Here’s a detailed look at these views and how they help Scrum and Agile teams:
A. Required Task Views
ClickUp has two required task views to handle two common project management styles:
1. List View
This view is perfect for Scrum teams who manage their work with GTD-style to-do lists. As tasks are listed down as a simple checklist, you can easily check them off as you progress.
Use it to keep track of your Sprint lists for multiple tasks. As each task is listed one after the other, you can tackle each one in order.
2. Board View
The Scrum board view is perfect for teams who like to combine Scrum and Kanban methods. You can even use this view if you simply want some Kanban board functionality in your Scrum board!
Here, your tasks are laid out on a Scrum board where you can drag and drop them to make quick adjustments.
A. Box View
The box view is perfect for high-level overviews of what your team is up to.
The project owner and product manager can use this view to keep a check on the development team. As tasks are sorted by assignee, you’ll instantly know who’s working on what.
ClickUp’s Calendar View helps you plan and manage your Sprint tasks in advance. Use it to also decide when you can add items from your product backlog to your sprint backlog.
For added flexibility, managers can view their calendar as:
- Days: view all the tasks scheduled for a given date
- 4-Days: look at your task schedule over a rolling four day period
- Week: view your weekly sprint schedule
- Monthly: shows your project roadmap on a monthly basis
C. Me Mode
ClickUp’s Me Mode is the perfect way to only keep track of what’s been assigned to you.
It only highlights tasks, comments and lists that are assigned to you. This way, you can easily focus on your tasks without getting distracted by other team member’s assignments.
2. Sprint Lists to always keep track of your sprints
The Scrum and Agile approach revolves around sprints.
Ask any Scrum master and that’s all you’ll hear them talking about.
But as sprints are so essential to Scrum, your project management tool needs to be able to handle them effectively.
ClickUp lets you create Sprint Lists that break down the deliverables for each sprint. As these are checklists, you can quickly check items off as you progress.
You can even add Scrum points to these lists to determine how long it’ll take to finish your product backlog.
As this is so easy to read and use, an Agile coach can easily use it to train new teams on the various Agile practices.
3. Agile Dashboards for detailed visual overviews of projects
There’s nothing like actually seeing your project progress, right?
I mean, it’s far better than just looking at some numbers instead.
To help you with that, ClickUp comes with powerful Dashboards. They’ll give you quick, detailed overviews of your project progress.
Here’s a look at how these Dashboards help you tackle the Agile approach to project management:
A. Velocity Charts
ClickUp’s velocity chart helps you determine the completion rate of your tasks.
All tasks are broken down into bi-weekly or weekly intervals and their average velocity is displayed in the graph. ClickUp also automatically groups sprint list data to make it easier to add.
B. Burndown Charts
ClickUp’s release burndown chart highlights how your team is performing against a target line. It also shows you the amount of work that’s left to be completed.
The release burndown chart highlights various metrics like:
- Target progress: shows the ideal task completion pace to reach your sprint goal
- Projected progress: displays your team’s current progress rate based on completed tasks
- Active: shows the current number of completed tasks
As a release burndown chart helps you identify if you’re behind schedule or not, Scrum teams use them to identify progress impediments quickly.
C. Burnup Charts
Burnup charts show you how much work you’ve already completed.
This way, you can take stock of what you’ve finished and motivate your team to finish well.
D. Cumulative Flow Charts
ClickUp’s cumulative flow charts show how your tasks progress over time.
Your tasks are broken into different colors based on their current status. This helps you quickly identify bottlenecks and step in to resolve them.
4. Custom Statuses to help manage varying task stages
Remember, the Agile methodology isn’t only for software development teams.
It’s also used by sales teams, marketing professionals and a host of other teams.
And while the basic Scrum process remains constant, each team will have its own specific needs and project phases.
For example, the review processes for a software development and marketing project are going to be very different.
That’s why you need a tool that can create tailor-made statuses for each of your projects.
ClickUp lets you customize project statuses on a case-by-case basis to suit your requirements. This way, you’re not stuck with a rigid set of statuses that aren’t relevant to your needs.
5. Assigned Comments to keep your projects moving along
One of the key benefits of Scrum is quick turnaround times.
But you can’t achieve that if your team members take forever to respond to your comments, right?
With ClickUp’s Assigned Comments, you can say goodbye to this problem!
ClickUp lets you quickly create tasks out of comments and assign them to any team member. It’ll then notify them about these comments and they’ll even pop up in their task tray. Once the task is complete, they can mark the comment as resolved to avoid needless follow-ups!
However, those aren’t all of ClickUp’s features.
You get loads of additional features to cope with Agile development and Scrum principles:
- Priorities: always know what’s urgent to attempt those tasks first
- Gantt charts: chart your project’s progress easily
- Dependencies: quickly tackle your tasks in the right order
- Detailed reporting: get complete breakdowns of your team’s performance
- Custom Access Rights: allow clients and stakeholders into your project space for better collaboration
- Powerful iOS and Android mobile apps: monitor your work while you’re on the move
So what is scrum?
We hope this Scrum guide helped you answer that.
But we’ll briefly go over it again anyway:
Scrum is a subset of Agile project management that’ll help you incorporate customer feedback and deliver great end products quickly.
And since you can’t manage Scrum or Agile project management without the right tool, why not download ClickUp today?
It has everything you need to manage your backlog, sprints, and team members!