Introduction to Scrum

by Jason Gardner (Ed.)

What Is Scrum and How To Get Started 

Are you a professional confused by the ever-evolving dynamics of project management and product development? It’s no wonder – with new technologies and concepts entering the workplace faster than ever before, staying current is more challenging than ever. One such concept is scrum, an agile framework for iteratively and adaptively inspecting and adapting progress to deliver value. Defined as “a lightweight framework”, it has exploded in popularity over recent years due to its ability to drastically improve teams’ ability to deliver value, resulting in increased customer satisfaction, decreased turnover rates and improved team morale. Scrum is an empirical process control framework that is process agnostic. This means that it is based on real-time decision making, where decisions are made based on observation and experimentation rather than detailed upfront planning. It operates on the principle that knowledge comes from experience and informed decision making.

At the heart of Scrum are three pillars, namely: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

  • Transparency: This involves presenting the facts as is. Unfettered transparency means all information should be visible to all members of the team and stakeholders. This encompasses the goals, the progress, the process, and the problems.
  • Inspection: Team members regularly check the progress towards the goal to find what is working and to detect undesirable variances. Transparency enables frequent inspection to help in understanding whether the defined process is working and whether it leads to the desired results.
  • Adaptation: If the inspection results indicate that the current process and procedures aren’t bringing the team closer to the goal, they need to adapt the process or alter the direction. Scrum enables immediate adaptation–no need to delay making a change as soon as a need for change is identified.

Empiricism, the principle of making decisions based on what is known, is truly the heart of scrum. This approach allows teams to adapt to changes rapidly and deliver the highest possible value to their customers. In this blog post we’re going to take a look at what exactly scrum is and why your organization should consider adopting it. By unpacking all aspects of the framework’s core structure, benefits & pitfalls, along with useful advice for implementation, you’ll be equipped to make sound decisions regarding your customer’s needs.

Scrum and its Elements

Scrum is a framework that emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and constant improvement in product development. It consists of a set of accountabilities, artifacts, events, and values.

Scrum Accountabilities

In scrum there are three roles or accountabilities: the product owner, the scrum master, and developers. The product owner is responsible for defining the product’s goals and maximizing the value of the product for the customer. The scrum master acts as a coach to the scrum team and stakeholders and ensures that scrum values are embraced. The developers are responsible for the actual work of building the product, and they regularly inspect and adapt to their progress. Each role has different areas of ownership, or “accountabilities” that counterbalance each other for effective collaboration.

Scrum Artifacts

Scrum is characterized by three primary artifacts: product backlog, sprint backlog, and the increment. These artifacts are designed to maximize transparency of key information, thus enabling better inspection and adaptation.

The product backlog is an ordered list of everything that needs to be done to achieve the product goal, which is the scrum team’s long-term objective for delivering value to the customer. It is the single source of requirements and changes continually to reflect the evolving needs and goals of the customer.

The sprint backlog is the set of product backlog items selected for the current sprint that align with a customer-driven outcome of the sprint, or a sprint goal, plus a plan for delivering them. It provides a real-time picture of the work that the developers plan to accomplish during the sprint.

The increment is the incremental value or functionality produced during the sprint that is useful and valuable for inspecting progress towards the overall product goal. At the sprint review, the scrum team together with the stakeholders inspects the increment and adapts the product backlog accordingly.

Scrum Events

Scrum also includes time-boxed events, such as sprint planning, daily scrums, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives to promote transparency, inspection and adaptation through scrum team collaboration. By utilizing scrum’s elements, teams can enhance their productivity, accelerate their delivery time, reduce risk, enable faster feedback and ultimately deliver high-quality products to their customers.

Scrum Values

Scrum is built on five core values that form the foundation of its practices, namely, courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness. With the value of courage, scrum team members have the strength to work on tough problems and make difficult decisions. Focus is all about concentrating on the work of the sprint and the goals of the scrum team. Commitment refers to the team’s dedication to achieving the goals of the scrum team. Respect is displayed when team members value each other’s unique capabilities and insights. Finally, openness encourages team members to be open about the work and any challenges they face, promoting a transparent work environment.

The Role of the Scrum Master

As a facilitator, the scrum master plays a pivotal role in ensuring the team can operate effectively in a complex environment. They are responsible for removing the impediments that can derail the progress of the team, whether those are related to organizational structures, dependencies, or the team’s own processes. Essentially, the Scrum Master ensures the team has the right environment to succeed, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and can work towards the same goal. With their ability to keep everyone aligned scrum masters are an essential component of any successful project.

What Happens During a Sprint

A sprint is a consistent, fixed-length iterative cycle in which the scrum team plans and completes work driven by a business goal (i.e. product goal) and then inspects the outcome to find out how to progress and improve towards the product goal in the next sprint.

The sprint begins with sprint planning, where the scrum team determines why they should invest in the sprint (the sprint goal), what work they can do to accomplish the goal (the product backlog items needed), and how they will get the work done (work breakdown tasks for the developers).. 

The daily scrum or stand-up meeting is a short meeting, same time, same place each day, for the developers to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours.

The sprint review is conducted at the end of the sprint to inspect the increment with stakeholders and adapt the product backlog to reflect what was learned.

The sprint ends with a sprint retrospective, a meeting held after the sprint review and prior to the next sprint where the scrum team discusses how they can improve as a team in the next sprint.

In scrum, the sprint provides transparency, inspection and adaptation helping the team continually course correct and improve their process to deliver a high-quality product.


Benefits of Adopting Scrum

Scrum can bring a multitude of benefits to a team. From increased flexibility to improve adaptability, this approach allows teams to be more nimble and responsive to changing project needs. With Scrum, teams are encouraged to work collaboratively, with open communication and regular feedback loops. This approach not only improves the quality of work, but it also helps teams stay on track and adjust their strategies as needed. Moreover, Scrum enables teams to prioritize work based on importance and urgency, ensuring that tasks with the highest value are addressed first. By putting Scrum into action, teams can optimize their workflow and make the most of their time and resources.

Tools and Resources for Implementing Scrum

If you’re looking to implement Scrum in your organization, there are a variety of tools and resources available to help you along the way. One key resource to start with is the Scrum Guide, which provides a detailed overview of the framework and its key principles.

From there, you may want to consider partnering with a reputable coaching and training organization, such as Platinum Edge. With their expert guidance and support, you can develop a customized Scrum implementation plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Also, having a field guide to frequently reference is key. Agile Project Management For Dummies is a great resource for scrum in product development and seeing what the transition may look like coming from a more traditional model to a more agile model. Or Scrum For Dummies may be helpful for understanding how scrum is implemented in various industries (e.g. manufacturing, construction, education, healthcare, defense, publishing, etc), different business functions (e.g. sales, marketing, operations, human resources, finance, etc), and in personal life (e.g. building wealth, pursuing an education, planning a wedding or vacation, etc).

Ultimately, with the right tools and resources, you can successfully implement scrum and realize the many benefits it has to offer.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Scrum Projects

Scrum has gained immense popularity in the software development industry due to its agile and adaptable approach. However, there are certain pitfalls that can derail a Scrum project if not avoided. One common mistake is not having a clear and defined product backlog, leading to confusion and disorganization in the team. Another pitfall is overcommitting and not realistically estimating the amount of work that can be completed in a given sprint. This can lead to delays and missed deadlines, ultimately affecting the success of the project. Additionally, lack of communication and collaboration among team members can impede progress and drive down morale. By recognizing and avoiding these pitfalls, Scrum teams can ensure their projects are successful and accomplished within a timely manner.

In conclusion, Scrum is an agile framework that can empower teams to become highly productive and efficient in controlling their project. At Platinum Edge we understand that implementing Scrum isn’t always easy. That’s why we offer certified agile training — along with team coaching. With these resources available it gives you a good starting point for having success with implementing Scrum on your next project. Whether you’re trying to get buy-in from your team or just want to learn how to use scrum more effectively – you can count on us! Remember, with our training and coaching program, your team will soon have the skills and confidence to handle any project using approaches that enable agility.. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today to get started on your project!


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