This article explains the scrum agile methodology in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful software project management tool.
What is the agile methodology?
The Scrum agile methodology of software-development is a flexible way of making software and it provides a framework for product development that can also be applied outside the ICT sector.
Scrum is an offshoot of the Agile branch of which the Japanese management thinkers Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka are considered to be the founding fathers.
Why is it called a scrum?
The term “Scrum” has its origins in rugby, a sport which revolves around cooperation, adaptability, speed and self-direction of the rugby team. In a scrum the team jointly tries to reach a goal and win the match. In addition to cooperation, the player must rapidly respond to changes.
Scrum has gained a reputation within software development. Today, this methodology is applied in multinationals and smaller businesses and it is used for complex and less complex projects. Because of its transparency and simplicity, this methodology can easily be combined with other methodologies such as Prince2, CMM and ITIL. Because this methodology ensures a reduction of transmission times and procedures, these other methodologies can be applied more effectively.
Scrum is often used in product development, of which the user has not yet considered the ultimate goal. By means of this methodology, the demands and requirements are increasingly better described and transformed into useful products. In most cases, the user does not know what he wants until he has seen the prototype, after which adjustments and changes can still be made. This flexibility is characteristic of this methodology. In addition, this methodology is extremely popular because of the fact that it is so simple to use.
Scrum falls within the Agile software development framework that can be used to develop software in a team. The strength lies in working with multidisciplinary teams that collaborate on a project. This methodology assumes that the team has the required knowledge itself as a result of which everyone is involved in the planning, identification of blockages and the division of tasks.
Scrum is characterized by short sprints. These are fixed time frames of 1 to 4 weeks within which the working software is delivered by the team. During each sprint, the end product is further extended and improved by the team. These fixed time frames ensure a regular delivery and they determine the rhythm of the team.
Each sprint has a purpose which gives the team a clear focus. The team is responsible for the way in which the goal is reached. They will often do this using pre-established items, that have been sufficiently specified so that they can be turned into working software within the sprint. The requirements these items have to comply with are laid down in writing in advance. The team jointly determines which of the items should be given priority.
This methodology facilitates project-based work. However, the following core values must be followed
The team should be open to connect with each other and to be willing to work on realistic and challenging goals in an engaged manner. Freedom and self-direction are important to attain these goals within the frameworks.
Open and transparent communications inspire confidence and removes the barrier to solve problems jointly and end encourages people to help each other.
Despite cooperation in a group, it is important to show courage as an individual and take independent and necessary decisions. Showing courage promotes creativity and lateral problem-solving.
The team must not lose sight of the common goals and they should be motivated to cooperate with each other in an effective manner.
By respecting each other, people can encourage each other as a result of which they are prepared to tackle problems together and not shift them onto others.
Scrum is an agile methodology which is also applied outside of the ICT sector. Because of its simplicity and result-orientation, it is popular with both self-directing teams and clients. For this methodology to be successful, it is necessary that the team is disciplined enough to be extremely transparent about the progress of the project and that it continuously searches for the best possible performance. After all, there is a reason why this methodology is based on the ‘best practices’ used in the Japanese industry.
- Schwaber, K. (1997). Scrum development process. In Business Object Design and Implementation (pp. 117-134). Springer London.
- Schwaber, K., & Sutherland, J. (2011). The scrum guide. Scrum Alliance.
- Sutherland, J. (2004). Agile Development: Lessons learned from the first Scrum (pdf).
- Sutherland, J., Schwaber, K., Scrum, C. C. O., & Sutherl, C. J. (2007). The scrum papers: Nuts, bolts, and origins of an agile process.
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