Scrum, the iterative and incremental Agile methodology focuses on delivering large projects by breaking them into smaller iterations or sprints. This method of delivering results incrementally has several advantages including quick rollback in case of failure, frequent testing and releasing, quick adaptation to changing requirements and customer satisfaction. In this blog, we attempt to describe the Scrum processes involved in the product development lifecycle.
There are eleven basic elements that make up the framework. There are:
Those implementing the Scrum framework must have a thorough understanding of how each of these works. While the responsibilities of the scrum roles are quite fluid it is important that each team has members with a collection of diverse skills. Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are called the inspect and adapt events within each sprint. These events or ceremonies give the team an opportunity to inspect and adapt the product and the processes on a regular basis and lead to better quality work and efficiency.
The artifacts add a lot of value to the product development and should be managed by the roles in the Scrum team. The Product Backlog is owned, refined and managed by the Product Owner in order to ensure that the team knows what to work on next and the priority of delivering sprint goals. The Product Owner takes up ownership of the product backlog and refines and orders it with help from the Scrum Master and the developers.
The amount of work to be undertaken in a sprint is estimated by refining the product backlog. During product backlog refinement, the items listed in the backlog are broken into smaller and definite items. As items are broken down, more details may be added to make it easier for developers to understand what must be built.
Scrum offers several visualization tools, and the team must know how to leverage these tools in order to ensure that work is properly allocated and completed on time for the next sprint. Once such tool is the Burndown chart that helps developers estimate the amount of work that has been completed in an epic or sprint, and the total work remaining. They also help to predict if the team can finish the work on time and to be aware of any scope creep that may occur during the sprint.
Another popular visualizing tool is the Scrum Kanban board, used to identify items that have met the definition of done and those under progress.
Visualizing the work completed is a very important part of the sprint as it helps developers understand where they stand with respect to the progress of the work undertaken and helps the product owner understand the same.
The Product Owner is actively involved in all the artifacts. As the main value enabler, the Product Owner must ensure that the increment that is released satisfies all the requirements of the stakeholders. The PO (Product Owner) updates the backlog and the prioritized list of tasks based on customer feedback. This includes not just any new requirements but also changes made to existing features or requirements. While the Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, they are not solely responsible for it.
The Product Owner ensures that the developers to spend quality time in refining the Product Backlog as this makes Sprint planning more effective. Frequent ordering and refining of the product backlog ensure that maximum value is delivered.
The artifacts are also called living documents as they are constantly evolving and are not static.
The Product Backlog is owned by the Product Owner and is an ordered list of tasks that are needed to be completed to attain the final product. The product backlog is continuously updated to reflect new features, bug fixes or tasks that need to be carried out as the product development progresses. The practice of product backlog refinement is carried out by the Product Owner with help from the Scrum Master and the developers.
The sprint backlog is an ordered list of tasks that need to be completed in the duration of the current sprint. The items on this list are decided at the time of the sprint planning meeting. The developers own the sprint backlog and receive help from the product owner in populating it with tasks taken from the product backlog.
The developers may break up the tasks into smaller units and estimate the effort associated with each task. The sprint backlog may change or evolve during the sprint as new tasks may be added or some tasks may be removed to ensure that the right amount of tasks are done to achieve the goal within the sprint duration. Every sprint has a sprint document.
“A burndown chart shows the amount of work that has been completed in an epic or sprint, and the total work remaining. Burndown charts are used to predict your team's likelihood of completing their work in the time available. They're also great for keeping the team aware of any scope creep that occurs.”—Atlassian Agile Coach
Burndown charts give the following information:
Sprints are the heartbeat of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value. They are fixed length events of one month or less to create consistency. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint--Scrum Guide
All the other events happen within the sprint. At the end of each sprint, the developers have to deliver a sprint goal that is a Potentially releasable Product Increment, in other words an increment that meets the requisite “definition of done”—a set of mutually agreed upon items or standards that a completed task or user story must reflect.
This lays the foundation for the work to be carried out during the sprint. The Scrum team justifies the need for the sprint in terms of the value it would deliver to the Product Owner, what has to be done in the sprint, and how the work should proceed in order to deliver the sprint goal.
The Daily Scrum is an event that is carried out every day of the sprint. It is conducted by the Scrum Master and is conducted at the same time and place every day of the sprint in order to keep it uncluttered and less time consuming. The daily meeting is a time when problems are discussed, work completed is evaluated, work is allocated and the tasks for the next day are planned. It aims to enhance collaboration and communication within the team.
In the sprint review, the team presents the product increment to the stakeholders and explains how it helps the overall product goal. This is also the time when future adaptations of improvements to the product are discussed, and changes are made to the product backlog to reflect the same.
A retrospective is a chance to look back on the sprint that got completed and see how future sprints can be improved. The team identifies what went wrong or what were the roadblocks that impeded work and based on these learnings tries to improve the quality and efficiency of upcoming sprints.
Let’s look at the responsibilities of the three Scrum roles:
The Scrum processes implement the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. They help to reduce waste and focus on essentials that bring in value and effectiveness. The adherence to Scrum processes helps bring in quality and commitment along with customer satisfaction and team motivation.