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Scrum is a way to organize the work in the spirit of Agile. It helps to produce and improve the Product quicker if market requirements are changed.
Often say that scrum is a methodology. But it is not, scrum is a framework. The difference between two concepts is in details. The methodology gives clear instructions about what, how and in what order the one should do his job. For example, the methodology instructs the manager to analyze how his department works every Friday.
The framework specifies the overall principles of procedure, it does not provide instructions on all occasions. Employees follow the principles of Scrum, but they can bring some changes in creating process by their selves if needed. For example, they decide how often they need to analyze the work of the Team, which members to gather for it, what documents to prepare.
Let’s more detailed consider what rules the Scrum framework specifies for staff, workflow process and tools.
In Scrum, the employee does not work alone, he is a part of the Team. We recommend creating a 3–9 people Team, because the small size of the Team exactly makes it work effective.
The Team is a group of professionals who create a Product from beginning to end. In an ordinary company, programmers sit side by side with programmers, accountants with accountants. Usually team is a group of specialists of the same profession. In Agile it is organized differently.
The scrum Team is formed of professionals in different fields. People of different professions have different views on the final Product and so, unexpected decisions appear on the intersection of their opinions very often.
For instance, the bakery scrum Team consists of chef, technologist, confectioner, baker and seller. They work together to create new pies. The seller says that customers rarely buy pies with mushroom filling and prefer interesting forms. In result, the team considers this comment, bakes triangular cakes with raspberry filling, that are swept away from the shelves.
In Scrum there is no hierarchy of authority. In a typical company there is a chain of managers and subordinates. Employees do what they are told by managers. In Scrum, the staff does not give orders to each other and work together.
In Scrum there is no anarchy. The Product Owner is the person who sets the main direction and works together with the Team. The Product Owner exactly knows the needs of customers and helps the Team to understand it. He does not manage the Team, but puts priorities before the start of the cycle and answers the questions of professionals during it.
The Team is responsible for the result. In case of failure no one is looking for the guilty person among specialists. Instead, the Team members together find the cause of the problem and fix it. For example, take fewer tasks, bring additional expert or try new equipment.
The Team members help each other. “One for all and all for one” is the main principle of the scrum team. If one of the members fails to perform his task in time, others help him.
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The work is cyclical. To work according to the Scrum means to divide the work on a large task into many small cycles or Sprints. The maximum duration of one Sprint is a month but we recommend starting with short cycles of 1–2 weeks.
Within each Sprint the Team goes through four stages: planning, work, presentation of results and analysis of the work. All the stages are obligatory.
At the end of each cycle there is a visible result. During the Sprint, the Team must create a Product or add a new feature that users need to an existing one. If in the end customer cannot see the result, it means nothing has been done.
For example, two bakeries decide to sell not bread only, but also the cakes. Compare, what is ready after two weeks of work with two different approaches:
– The perfect dough recipe and 20 different toppings are developed and approved. The cost of purchasing the ingredients is calculated.
– Customers are not even aware that there will be cakes in this bakery.
Bakery with Scrum.
– 2–3 ready-made recipes are taken from the internet, cakes are baked and put on the counter.
– Customers can already buy cakes in this bakery.
Workflow is constantly changing. After each Sprint, the Team discusses the process, finds the problem, decides what should be improved and how. These solutions will be already implemented in the next Sprint so that the Team works better every next time.
Everyone knows what other member works on, because the Team works together and “compare notes”. For that Scrum offers to hold a short meeting every day, where everyone talks about his goals and work issues.
No paperwork. Scrum uses Agile concept of “Working Product is more important than comprehensive documentation”. This does not mean that there are no documents at all. But in Scrum professionals create only those documents that they will need in the work.
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To work in Scrum Team creates three artifacts. This is special objects that help the Team to create the Product and organize its work.
The Artifacts of Scrum:
Product backlog — is a list of useful customer features, that were sorted by the Product Owner. Such a list is necessary to understand what should be done first and to know how to develop the Product.
Sprint backlog — is a list of tasks for the current cycle. It is needed to know what the Team will work on in the next 1–2 weeks.
Product increment — is a final Product after the end of the Sprint. Needed to show to customers, get feedback and decide what should be done further. To understand whether the Product is ready or not at the end of the Sprint, the Team uses the Product Readiness Criteria.
The Artifacts are very useful. Each artifact is only created because it simplifies the work of the Team and helps to achieve the Sprint goal.
Look, how the Product Backlog helps the bakery to create the perfect cakes.
– The main thing is to carry out the bosses’ directive to “expand the product range” and not much bothered.
– So, the technologist does not think about the customer preferences, and operates on the concept “if all others have cakes with cabbage, then we will have them with cabbage too”.
– Perhaps he will guess and cakes will be great. But in most cases, he will not.
Bakery with Scrum.
– The Scrum Team gathers the list of requests:
/ one cake should be enough to feed a starving student
/ it cost should not exceed X rubles
– Backlog specifies restrictions that professionals are interested to work with.
-As a result, students get their perfect cakes.
The team modifies artifacts regularly. Under the influence of the market situation, new ideas, customers feedback the Scrum Team understands what should be improved in their work or Product, and makes changes to the artifacts.
For instance, customers in the bakery say they want sweeter cakes. The Team puts down this in the wish list and puts in the filling more sugar next Sprint.
We have described the general concepts of Scrum. Anyone who is interested in this framework, we recommend learning not only the external features like daily briefing, but also to develop agile-thinking in your work. Only then you will get:
– interest to work and desire to do it well;
– responsibility for their work; in Scrum, in case of failure, it is impossible to hide behind the rules and put the blame on boss or subordinates;
– freedom from formal paperwork;
– understanding how the company works and how each person effects on its work.
– Scrum is a framework that helps to use Agile in work.
– The Team in Scrum is a group of professionals who create a Product from beginning to end. Team members are together responsible for the results and help each other.
– The workflow is divided into cycles — Sprints — up to the month length. At the end of each Sprint you receive visible results.
– To work in Scrum, Team creates three artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment. Artifacts are needed to create and improve the Product.
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