10 Essential Facts About Scrum

Scrum is fast becoming the hottest thing in project management.

It’s the most prominent of a number of Agile techniques which fix “Time” and “Cost” – rather than “Features”.  That’s not to say that the goal of delivering a defined outcome and associated benefits is in any way diminished.

These techniques were first developed for software development projects – but in today’s climate they will resonate with those working in many other sectors.

Scrum is not the answer for every project but it includes very effective techniques which can be applied where appropriate – possibly to subsets of larger projects and programmes being run in more conventional ways.

The following notes will not make you a “Scrum Master” – but they may whet your appetite and encourage you to explore the books, websites and courses suggested below.

1. The name “Scrum” emerged as a rugby analogy where a self organising team moves  down the field – together
2. Many projects involve learning, innovation and surprises, so a major recurring theme of Scrum is to “inspect and adapt”
3. “Sprints” of intense activity are launched with a planning meeting and close with a Sprint Retrospective. This review questions “what we should start, stop and continue doing”
4. “Stand-up” meetings are held daily during Sprints when each member briefly states what’s completed, what they will do next, and what’s in their way
5. The “Product Owner” identifies product features in the form of a prioritised list and is responsible for ROI
6. The “Team” is typically a dedicated group of 5-10 people with the different skill sets needed to deliver the product
7. The “Scrum Master” is a facilitator rather than a manager – guiding the Team, resolving issues and interfacing with the Product Owner
8. The “Product Backlog” is a definitive and prioritised list of remaining features and tasks – so becomes the product road map
9. The “Sprint Burndown” tracks estimated hours work outstanding against the “time-boxed” Sprint hours available
10. Scrum is not just about processes – it’s a different style of working which is energetic, collaborative, and flexible.

>> Buy Ken Schwaber’s “Agile Project Management with Scrum”
>> Find other Scrum books and resources
>> Explore Scrum training courses
>> Upcoming Scrum Master Certification courses
>> Download the “Scrum Primer” from the Scrum Alliance website
>> Using Agile in a legal practice – Larry Port
>> What’s Different about Agile

Blogalot – July 2010