There are several agile project management frameworks teams can choose to utilize. Here’s a quick introduction to Scrum, which is one of the most popular agile methodologies.
This resource guide is intended to be useful for project managers, business leaders, developers, project and product teams, consultants, stakeholders and students. We’ll update this primer when new information is available about Scrum.
- What is agile project management with Scrum?
- Scrum agile project management terminology
- What are the benefits of using Scrum agile project management?
- Who Scrum agile project management affects
- How popular is Scrum agile project management?
- What are the five phases of Scrum agile project management?
- What are the six principles of Scrum agile project management?
- How to get started with Scrum agile project management
What is agile project management with Scrum?
Scrum is a popular iterative software development framework that is often used to manage product development. It uses short, iterative cycles called sprints to complete work. The word “scrum” originated from a rugby analogy in a 1986 study by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. It is just one of the many agile frameworks used in project management to improve quality and expedite product development and delivery. There are three key roles in Scrum: the Scrum Master, the product owner and the development team.
SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)
The Scrum Master takes on the role of a team leader who is responsible for ensuring the Scrum framework is followed correctly. This includes overseeing and guiding the process and making sure the team meets its goals and deliverables. Although the team is self-organizing, the Scrum Master works with the team to ensure there is synergy and alignment in their focus.
The product owner is, in essence, a project sponsor who develops the wishlist of things to be done and prioritizes it. For example, the product owner develops product goals and communicates them with the team. The product owner interacts with the team and the Scrum Master throughout the project.
The development team is a self-organizing collaborative team that is used across functions and brought together because of their relevant and necessary skills for a project. This team of usually five to 10 people has the full capabilities and authority to plan and complete their work. Work isn’t complete until it reaches the set “definition of done” as defined by the development team.
Scrum agile project management terminology
- Artifacts: Product backlog, sprint backlog, etc.
- Burn-down chart: Displays the work that remains in the backlog over a timeline.
- Burn-up chart: Displays the amount of work that has been completed over time.
- Daily Scrum: A 15 minute daily event for the development team where members plan the day’s work.
- Definition of done (DoD): A set of expectations defined by the development team that outlines when a product reaches set quality standards.
- Development team: A small team of five to 10 members that manages and completes the work within each sprint required to release a product to the customer.
- Increment: Defines the work that must be completed during a sprint.
- Product owner: The person who manages and communicates all requirements for a product to maximize value for the customer.
- Scrum board: The scrum team uses this physical board to diagram the information needed to complete work.
- Scrum Master: A team leader who is responsible for ensuring the Scrum framework is followed and that the team meets its goals and deliverables.
- Sprint: A less-than-one-month, time-boxed event that includes the work to be completed to finish a project.
- Sprint backlog: A high-level view of work to be done to realize a sprint goal.
- The roots of agile project management (TechRepublic)
- Four variants of agile development methods (TechRepublic)
- Agile development: Cheat Sheet (TechRepublic)
- Quick glossary: Project management (TechRepublic Premium)
What are the benefits of using Scrum agile project management?
Scrum offers project teams and organizations the following benefits:
- Simple implementation: Because scrum has a predetermined set of roles, rules and processes, it provides teams with an easy to implement process for getting work done, measuring success and gaining higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- Increased flexibility: Scrum is a flexible and iterative process, enabling teams to make changes to a product as customer demands or requirements change.
- Improved chance of project success: Quality is mandated and defined within the DoD as a primary requirement before a product can be released. This increases the likelihood of success.
- Enhanced project focus: Scrum sprints do not impact work that was previously done in project phases. Instead, only the work in the current sprint is executed, offering teams greater focus.
- Improved collaboration: Team collaboration and cohesiveness levels tend to be higher, as teams are self-organizing.
- Cost savings: Costs are usually more contained when using Scrum. For example, instead of taking a product that doesn’t meet customer needs to full production, teams can utilize feedback and return to the drawing board if needed, saving time and resources.
- User stories effectively bridge communication gaps between product and engineering (TechRepublic)
- 10 ways to improve time-to-market for your applications (TechRepublic)
Who Scrum agile project management affects
The use of Scrum benefits all members of a project team, including developers, project and product managers, testers, engineers, system designers, technical writers and executives. The largest benefit is passed onto the customer through faster debugging, less frequent defects and quicker turnaround of high-quality products.
- 10 skills you need to become a great project manager (TechRepublic)
- Report: 11 of the 25 highest paying jobs in the US are in tech (TechRepublic)
- Job description: IT project manager (TechRepublic Premium)
- Job description: Quality assurance engineer (TechRepublic Premium)
How popular is Scrum agile project management?
The use of agile project management is quickly growing, especially within software development teams. According to the most recent State of Agile Report, the use of agile within these teams increased from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021. Scrum was identified as the most popular agile method, with 66% of surveyed companies using it, an increase from 40% of companies in the first survey.
- Research: The rise of agile IT (TechRepublic Premium)
- HPE targets DevOps and agile with new application lifecycle management software (TechRepublic)
What are the five phases of Scrum agile project management?
Scrum project management includes five distinct phases that help teams determine project goals, plan sprints, execute tasks and release deliverables. The five basic phases are as follows:
- Start: During this phase, the Scrum team initiates the project by selecting a Scrum Master, determining the ultimate goal of the project, forming the Scrum development team and other tasks.
- Plan: The planning phase requires the Scrum team to plan the project by completing various tasks such as creating a sprint backlog and estimating the tasks required to reach the end goal.
- Implement: This is the meat of the project. During implementation, the Scrum team completes deliverables and moves through the product backlog.
- Review: During the review phase, the final product is reviewed. The Scrum team will also discuss ways to improve future Scrum projects.
- Release: Finally, the product is delivered to the customer or the internal project is completed.
- Kanban: The benefits of using this agile PM framework (TechRepublic)
- 4 scrum best practices to keep your app development projects on track (TechRepublic)
- Three ceremonies to conduct in Scrum projects (TechRepublic)
- How to use scrum for app development QA testing (TechRepublic)
- Don’t take the SAFe route before answering these agile questions (TechRepublic)
- How to apply agile practices with your non-tech team or business (TechRepublic)
What are the six principles of Scrum agile project management?
According to the SBOK® Guide, there are six key principles any organization must follow to utilize the Scrum methodology successfully:
- Empirical process control: Scrum is a methodology based on three main ideas: Transparency, inspection and adaptation.
- Self-organization: The Scrum method allows teams to be self-organized which results in greater creativity and enhanced innovation.
- Collaboration: Scrum prescribes to the idea that teams who work and interact together will deliver the greatest project value.
- Value-based prioritization: Business value must be the top priority in any Scrum project, from the start of the project to the final deliverable.
- Time-boxing: Time-boxed elements such as sprints are used to manage projects effectively by limiting the time spent on tasks.
- Iterative development: Scrum is an iterative process that inspires change in an effort to build products that match customer needs and desires.
How to get started with Scrum agile project management
Implementing the Scrum methodology within your organization requires training and support. There are numerous online resources you can use, including the Scrum Alliance founded in 2002 by Ken Schwaber and others; Scrum Guides, which were started by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland; and various organizations, including PMI and Scrum.org, that provide in-depth background information about the framework, as well as training and certification options.