AGILE Framework and Methodologies : Introduction to SCRUM


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SCRUM is an excellent framework for developing complex software products. Broadly speaking, SCRUM is a collection of ideas related to project management time boxed to provide a high quality working software. Specific to IT, SCRUM is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects. SCRUM provides a small set of rules that create just enough structure for teams to be able to focus their innovation on solving the product requirements what might otherwise be an insurmountable challenge.

SCRUM Framework is an iterative incremental product development approach where interaction with the environment is allowed, accepts changes to the project scope, technology, functionality, cost, and schedule whenever required. Controls are used to measure & manage the impact of change. SCRUM accepts that the requirements are changing and unpredictable, the working product developed using SCRUM is the BEST possible software, factoring in cost, functionality, timing and quality.

In 1986, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka,published a paper “The New New Product Development Game” in HBR suggesting Waterfall doesn’t work and needs a dynamic development model.

Later, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the co-creators of SCRUM, Ken worked with Jeff Sutherland to formulate the initial versions of the SCRUM development process and to present SCRUM as a formal process at OOPSLA’95.

The SCRUM framework consists of SCRUM Teams and their associated roles, events, artifacts, and rules. Each component within the framework serves a specific purpose and is essential to SCRUM’s success and usage.

SCRUM employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk.  Three pillars which uphold every implementation of empirical process control are

transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Transparency:

Significant aspects of the process must be visible to those responsible for the outcome.

Inspection:

SCRUM users must frequently inspect SCRUM artifacts and progress toward a goal to detect undesirable variances.

Adaptation:

If an inspector determines that one or more aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits, and that the resulting product will be unacceptable, the process or the material being processed must be adjusted. An adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.

SCRUM prescribes four formal opportunities for inspection and adaptation:

– Sprint Planning Meeting

– Daily SCRUM

– Sprint Review

– Sprint Retrospective

Characteristics of SCRUM are as follows

1. Self Organizing Teams
2. Product progresses in a series of month long sprint.
3. Requirements are captured as items in a list of product backlog
4. No specific engineering practices prescribed
5. Uses generative rules to create an agile environment for delivering projects
6. One of the “agile processes”

The essence of SCRUM is
  • The team is committed to achieve its goal – high quality working software.
  • The team self organizes itself for meeting its commitment.
  • The team delivers at each iterative cycle the most valuable features to the product owner.
  • The team adapts to the changing needs suggested by feedback and retrospective from sprint review & retrospective meeting.
  • The team’s performance is transparent and can be measured in terms of progress being made.
  • The team and management honestly communicate about progress and risks.

The SCRUM way of working is based on values of commitment, team spirit, self respect, respect for others, trust and courage. SCRUM never suggest any methodology or engineering practice to teams to do their work but expect team to fulfill the commitment – high quality product.

The SCRUM FRAMEWORK  consists of the Team, SCRUM Master and Product Owner.

TEAM is collectively responsible for meeting the commitment of each sprint goal and of the project as a whole.

TEAM

are self organized, self-managing and motivated cross-functional members. The team is fully dedicated to innovate and create working product from product backlog items incrementally within the sprint.

SCRUM MASTER

is philosopher, guide to the team, helping the team to implement the scrum methodology for product development. He removes any impediments or hurdles for the team. He makes sure the process is moving. Institutionalize SCRUM process to the complete organization.

PRODUCT OWNER

is responsible for delivering the vision in a way that maximizes the ROI & minimizes the risk, formulates the plan and converts it to product backlog. He responsible to communicate the progress and changes of the working product to all the stakeholders of the Product. PO is also responsible for prioritizing the functionality of the product that needs worked upon by the team.

All work is done in Sprints; each sprint is an iteration of 2-4 consecutive weeks. Each Sprint is initiated with a Sprint planning meeting where Product Owner and Team get together to collaborate what product backlog items needs to be worked upon in next sprint.

All the backlog items that team commits is put into sprint backlog where each product backlog item is divided into multiple tasks in sprint backlog, the tasks in the sprint backlog emerge as the sprint evolves. With Sprint planning, the sprint starts and the clock starts to tick towards Sprint time-box.

The team members needs to attend the DAILY SCRUM meeting and keep the sprint backlog up-to-date. Everyone answers 3 questions in DAILY SCRUM meeting

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Is anything in your way?

The SCRUM Master updates the Task board based on the briefing in the Daily SCRUM meeting. These are not status updates but commitments in front of peers.

At the end of the sprint, a sprint review meeting is held. the purpose of the sprint review meeting is to demo the working software to the product owner. Product owners discusses with the stakeholders and team potential rearrangement of the Product Backlog based on the feedback. Stakeholders give feedback and identify any new functionality and request additions to the Product Backlog for prioritization.

After this SCRUM Master holds Sprint retrospective meeting with the team, At this time-boxed meeting SCRUM Master encourages team to review, within the scrum process to make it more effective for the next sprint. To track remaining work Sprint Burndown chart is used, This reports remaining estimated workload over the course of the project

To Summarize, SCRUM is a most popular framework of AGILE project management methodologies. It has ROLES (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Team), CEREMONIES/EVENTS (Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, Daily Scrum meeting) and ARTIFACTS (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown charts). In my future coming articles I will be explaining in detail all the ROLES, CEREMONIES/EVENTS and ARTIFACTS of SCRUM FRAMEWORK till then happy reading and drop me any feedback or comments below.

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