Scrum is an Agile framework best known for its lightweight, iterative approach to software development. It is best used in complex projects. Scrum is easy to understand but can be challenging to master.
Getting acclimated with Scrum requires understanding Scrum life cycle. Having the right team members in place to fulfill the necessary roles needed for Scrum is also a requirement to run Scrum successfully.
The flow of Scrum life cycle consists of the following parts:
- Product Backlog
- Sprint Planning
- Sprint Backlog
- Daily Scrum
- Sprint Review
- Sprint Retrospective
The product backlog is a list of things to be done for a project. It is also known as a wish list since the product owner would ideally like all items in the list to be worked on. The product backlog is similar to listing out requirements and specifications for a project. The list is prioritized and broken out into tickets with details that could be technical or in the form of user stories. The product backlog changes over the course of the project as new requirements are added, modified or deleted. The product owner is responsible for keeping the product backlog current.
Sprint planning is a meeting that is held between the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the rest of the Agile team. It is usually timeboxed to an hour and the team members meet to discuss and plan the tickets that will be worked on from the product backlog. The acceptance criteria are discussed and effort needed to perform the work is estimated. The top priority tickets are usually planned first and if there is room for lesser priority tickets, they are added after. What the team takes on is dependent on the length of the sprint, the team’s capacity, and velocity. The final tickets that are agreed on will go into the sprint backlog.
The list of tasks/tickets that have been agreed on by the Scrum team to be completed within a sprint is the sprint backlog. These define the size of the sprint backlog based on the commitments from the Scrum team. During a sprint, the backlog is tracked and updated regularly with any new information pertaining to the work being performed. Sometimes, too much or too little work can be planned for a sprint backlog. When this happens, tickets either need to be removed or added to the backlog to balance the sprint.
A sprint is a timeboxed period of time in which work needs to be completed and ready for review. In Scrum, the length of a sprint is usually based on the way a team works and how quickly they need to provide working pieces of software. Sprints can be as short as one week and as long as four weeks. The Scrum Master usually determines the length of a sprint with agreements from the team. Once the length is set, it should be continuous for all future sprints.
Daily scrum or daily stand-up is a fifteen-minute time-boxed meeting. This meeting happens every day at the same time and location. This is an opportunity for the development team to discuss what they accomplished the day before, what they will be working on for the day and what obstacles are impeding their progress. The Scrum Master is usually the facilitator. The meeting is meant for all team members to share their input on the sprint and get a clear understanding on what work was already completed, what issues need resolving and what is left to do. This will give good insight into the progress of the sprint and give an early indicator on if the commitments and sprint goal are being met.
At the end of each sprint, the team is responsible for providing a working piece of software that is potentially shippable. Because of this, sprint review meetings are usually held for the team to demonstrate what they completed during the sprint and to get feedback from the product owner and other stakeholders. The final result is weighed against the initial sprint goal and the team can use this time to provide their suggestions on what was accomplished. Sprint reviews should not be extremely long and should fall anywhere between one to two hours maximum.
A sprint retrospective is an internal meeting for the Scrum team. This is an opportunity for the team to reflect on how they did in the sprint and determine ways in how they can improve. Retrospectives should also be time-boxed but still, give all team members the ability to give their input. There are different ways in which retrospectives can be carried out. One way is to use the Start, Stop, Continue technique where each team member, based on their experience in the sprint, suggests what the team should start doing, stop doing and continue doing. Retrospectives are the very last step in Scrum life cycle and happen at the very end.
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Scrum Alliance. (n.d.). Learn About Scrum. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from https://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum
Scrum Alliance. (n.d.). The Scrum Guide. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum/scrum-guide