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Understanding Scrum - Methodology

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 9/12/2011

Are you familiar with Scrum methodology? Learn about Scrum methodologies and how to implement them in this Bright Hub article by Ronda Levine.

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    What is Scrum?

    Scrum is a specialized version of agile project management methodologies. Scrum projects are characterized by a product backlog - a list of tasks that come up while the sprint (a highly focused period where tasks are completed, generally running 30 days) is underway. The idea behind Scrum is to create a streamlined project management process that produces a quality end product. Scrum methodology was developed in the early 1990's with a framework that is as applicable to complex projects as it is to simple projects.

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    What Are the Basics of Scrum Methodology?

    Scrum Methodology depends on the execution of highly defined roles and processes. Scrum begins with the Scrum Content and the Scrum Master who leads and initiates the scrum project.

    Scrum content includes the following items:

    • Three specific roles - the Scrum Master (or leader of the project), the Product Owner (the person responsible for maximization of the work's value) and the Team (those who carry out the Scrum work and develop and test the product).
    • Time Boxes - Time boxes include the release planning meeting (where qualities of the software to be developed are discussed and agreed upon), the Sprint development meeting (where the work to be completed during the sprint is discussed and agreed upon), the Sprint (the aforementioned focused work time period), the daily scrum (a brief meeting held at the beginning of each day for the purpose of progress checking), the sprint review (a brief meeting held at the end of each day to recap the work and progress made that day) and the sprint retrospective (occurring at the end of a sprint, no more than three hours, to discuss the successes and failures of the sprint).
    • Artifacts - There are four artifacts involved in a Scrum project. The Scrum artifacts are: the product backlog (a to-do list that is constantly being prioritized when new tasks are found and added to it), the sprint backlog (the to-do list for the duration of one sprint, during the sprint no new objects are added to this list and the goal during the sprint is to turn this sprint into a workable product), Release burndown (takes the product backlog and projects its completion over time during the project duration), Sprint burndown (measures the sprint backlog items and tracks them across the remaining duration of a sprint).
    • Rules - Various rules govern sprint projects. Rules are what tie together the Sprint roles with the sprint time boxes and artifacts. Rules help to ensure that the project's Scrum methodology is implemented correctly.

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    Scrum's Time Boxes

    Later in this series, I will discuss Scrum roles and Scrum Artifacts along with supporting rules for the program. Here, I will discuss the time boxes occurring in the Scrum Methodology.

    Release Planning Meeting - The release planning meeting, where the plans for the product are decided upon and goals are set. Scrum Alliance calls the release planning meeting an optional time box, meaning if Scrum Masters are secure in the plans and goals for a product release, they can skip this initial meeting.

    Sprint Development Meeting - the sprint development meeting is slotted to eight hours for an average sprint lasting one month. During the sprint development meeting, held only once a sprint iteration has been scheduled, the top priority items from the product backlog are presented to the team. Also during this meeting, the methods for completing these items are discussed.

    The Sprint - The sprint is a highly focused period of time where the team works towards creating a workable version of the product being completed. While a sprint is underway, no changes can be made that will affect the outcome or the product being produced in the sprint.

    The Daily Scrum - The daily scrum is a fifteen minute meeting that allows each sprint team member to present what each has been working on, what will be completed, and any problems encountered during the process.

    The Sprint Review - The sprint review is held at the end of a sprint. It is time blocked for 4 hours and serves as a forum to discuss what work was completed and what work had not been completed.

    The Sprint Retrospective - The sprint retrospective is held after a sprint review, and before the next sprint planning session. The purpose of this meeting is to review how the previous sprint went in terms of the mechanics (people, tools, organization, etc.).

    The Scrum time boxes formulate the foundation for Scrum's methodology.

    Please be sure to check out the other items in Bright Hub's collection of Agile project management guides and discussions.

Understanding Scrum - Part I

This series of articles details the principals behind scrum methodologies - the process, environment, process, roles, etc. Everything you need to know to understand Scrum, you will find in these articles.
  1. Understanding Scrum - Methodology
  2. Understanding Scrum - Processes
  3. Understanding Scrum - Environment
  4. Understanding Scrum: Basic Q&A
  5. Understanding Scrum - Project Planning Templates and Samples