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What is Scrum?

Scrum is a framework that helps teams work together. Much like a rugby team (where it gets its name) training for the big game, Scrum encourages teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve. While the Scrum I’m talking about is most frequently used by software development teams, its principles and lessons can be applied to all kinds of teamwork. This is one of the reasons Scrum is so popular. Often thought of as an agile project management framework, Scrum describes a set of meetings, tools, and roles that work in concert to help teams structure and manage their work. Scrum is a framework for project management that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. … The three pillars of Scrum are transparency, inspection and adaptation. The framework, which is often part of Agile software development, is named for a rugby formation.



Scrum Roles

Scrum has three roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team.


The Example Scrum Master’s Checklist


  • Product Owner: The Product Owner should be a person with vision, authority, and availability. The Product Owner is responsible for continuously communicating the vision and priorities to the development team.It’s sometimes hard for Product Owners to strike the right balance of involvement. Because Scrum values self-organization among teams, a Product Owner must fight the urge to micro-manage. At the same time, Product Owners must be available to answer questions from the team.

  • Scrum Master: The Scrum Master acts as a facilitator for the Product Owner and the team. The Scrum Master does not manage the team. The Scrum Master works to remove any impediments that are obstructing the team from achieving its sprint goals. This helps the team remain creative and productive while making sure its successes are visible to the Product Owner. The Scrum Master also works to advise the Product Owner about how to maximize ROI for the team.

  • Team: According to Scrum’s founder, “the team is utterly self managing.” The development team is responsible for self organizing to complete work. A Scrum development team contains about seven fully dedicated members (officially 3-9), ideally in one team room protected from outside distractions. For software projects, a typical team includes a mix of software engineers, architects, programmers, analysts, QA experts, testers, and UI designers. Each sprint, the team is responsible for determining how it will accomplish the work to be completed. The team has autonomy and responsibility to meet the goals of the sprint.

Scaled Agile

When several teams work on one product, they should generally use a single Product Owner (who can make real business decisions) and a single Product Backlog with customer-centric requirements. Each Scrum team should strive to become a feature team, able to build a complete slice of product which could be delivered to a customer. When interdependencies arise, Scrum’s feature teams must learn to use team self organization principles to coordinate with other teams. Unfortunately, most teams are not initially accustomed to this level of responsibility, and pre-existing management habits and hierarchies present organizational impediments. Scrum eliminates traditional co-ordination roles such as project manager and PMO, as these interfere with team self organization. Scrum eliminates traditional technical czar roles such as “architect,” as technical decisions are made by collaborative teams. While optimal Agility requires fundamental changes to organizational design, it’s tempting to use one of the hybrid approaches that combine a watered-down version of Scrum with traditional hierarchical management. Large organizations that are more committed to the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto are advised to learn about Large Scale Scrum (LeSS).