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Scrum and IT: A Perfect Marriage?

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 6/30/2011

This article takes a hard look at Scrum and the IT industry. It then asks the question as to whether Scrum is a valuable approach to project management for the IT industry.

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    Scrum is a holistic approach to project management and software development. Information technology is the study and design of software and computer hardware. Thus, it would seem as though Scrum and IT were made for one another – but are they?

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    About IT

    The IT industry uses computers and software in order to manage information. It differs from simple computer science or programming because it is the department responsible for storing information, privacy protection, future retrieval of the information, etc. Those working in the industry may be responsible for a variety of actions, most of which require intricate methods for project development and product development.

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    About Scrum

    Scrum is a process used to streamline the management of software development projects. It relies on two different types of roles (“Pig" or “Chicken" roles) and following an exact process in order to execute specific goals in software development. The process consists of a sprint (15-30 day period where a part of potentially usable software is developed).

    During this time, the Product Backlog (a prioritized list of tasks) is worked on. During the sprint, the backlog items may not be changed. Each day, there is a fifteen-minute meeting– and the group updates their progress dependent upon their roles. Scrum, then appears to be a highly effective method of project management.

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    Are they made for each other?

    For those involved in managing information and software, Scrum could be quite useful. Because this process keeps users on task during the sprint phase, it could increase the productivity of the IT industry. The reason for this is by only working with a specific backlog, rather than pile on tasks, the team can focus on getting things done, rather than keeping afloat in a tidal wave of new tasks. It forces workers to streamline their efforts in developing software and computer hardware to implement for storing information. It also allows project managers to monitor closely their team members’ progress, as it requires daily meetings.

    The downside of Scrum is – well, the strict adherence to a schedule and to the process. If, for example, an issue comes up in the middle of the sprint, it is possible that addressing it will not occur until the next sprint because there is no flexibility in adding items to the Product Backlog.

    In a fast-paced industry such as IT, thirty days may mean the danger of a security breach compromising private information. Setting this aside, however, Scrum does appear to be made for IT.