The last time I wrote about Agile, I mentioned some of the misconceptions that people have about it. I offered that most of the complaints about quality of work come when parts of the methodology are ignored.
The Scrum is the key management framework of Agile that is meant to prevent those issues.
Definition of Scrum
The first definition of Scrum comes from the late ’80s. The idea was opposed to the conventional sequential method of developing software: “Scrum was first defined as ‘a flexible, holistic…strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal'” (Wikipedia, Scrum development). Scrum is a term that comes from the game of rugby (apparently, the development approach first took the name rugby), and refers to the visceral, circular restart after a minor foul has occurred.
The key concept, as you may have noticed, is the TEAM. The Agile Scrum was designed to be as full on a team effort as any UK rugby match—except without the bloodshed and concussions.
There’s No “I” in SCRUM
The Scrum is not just the team; rather, it refers to the team members in addition to its tactics, plays, cooperation, and goals. The Agile Scrum team is made up of three primary, and two ancillary roles:
1) The Product Owner: this person has assumed responsibility for the delivery of value to the customer. Potentially taking other roles as well, the Product Owner provides guidance and resources to the rest of the team as he or she represents the needs of the Stakeholder(s).
2) Development Team members: usually between 3 and 10 in number, these roles design, develop, analyze, and deliver work product at the conclusion of each sprint.
3) Scrum Master: the coolest-sounding role by far, this individual is not the primary motivator or leader. Their primary function is to eliminate obstacles from the successful delivery process, by following the rules of Scrum, and helping the team to remain focused throughout each sprint.
a) Stakeholders: these are the clients, customers, or vendors for whom value is being created by the other roles. Unlike those in conventional, waterfall-type development, Scrum stakeholders are able to speak into regular sprint reviews.
b) Managers: These folks help keep the Scrum work environment under control.
There are a number of important checkpoints and artifacts for the team, including the daily scrum or daily standup, backlog checks, sprint planning meetings, and burndowns. I defined some of these a few weeks ago. These are all necessary to Scrum, but the daily standup is what makes the greatest contribution to the integrity of the Agile Scrum. It is a short meeting with strict boundaries, where each team member is required to answer three questions:
1) What have you done since yesterday?
2) What are you planning to do today?
3) What is blocking your progress?
Although there is more to the Agile Scrum than can be noted here, the framework is essential for success within the Agile methodology. An Agile team, like a rugby or any sports team, is more than just the players. To be successful, it needs roles, rules, and reviews. These are what Scrum brings to the process.
SOUND OFF: How is your business using Agile practices? Are you faithful to the Scrum framework?