Scrum Basics

In case you don’t know where to start with Scrum or just need a reference for further research, Geir Berset made a short, stripped down introduction.

  1. Create and maintain a product backlog. This is a list of functional and non-functional requirements sorted by importance, and given estimates on a “best guess”-basis. These requirements should be understood by the customer (Product Owner).
  2. Hold a monthly sprint planning meeting. Select the top requirements from the product backlog. The team break these requirements into actionable items (tasks), and carefully adds their estimates. A goal is constructed for the sprint that the team can commit to. Everything put into the sprint should be potentially ready for production before the sprint ends, remember? Tools to aid you adding the correct amount of requirements to the sprint is the calculated sprint velocity (how many man-hours you can put into the sprint) versus the task estimates. Sprint velocity, in turn, depends on the focus factor. More on these new terms later.
  3. Do the sprint (with daily scrums). The team carries out the sprint during the coming month, and scrum masters (managers) are mere facilitators at this stage. The team self-organizes to make the real magic happen. Through daily scrums (short, informal team get-togethers) of only 5 to 15 minutes duration regardless of team size, the team stays synchronized and focused on the sprint tasks. Every team member answer only three questions; a) What did I do since our last daily scrum? b) What am I planning to do until the next daily scrum? c) What is stopping me to do what I plan to do?
  4. Sprint review. AKA The Demo. The team explains the goal of the sprint, and shows off the requirements that has been turned in to finished functionality, potentially ready for production, in a demo. Anyone can turn up to this event, and the demo should be understandable by the customer. Feedback is gathered during and after the review.
  5. Sprint retrospect. The goal is to learn something from the just finished sprint. The team discuss the following three questions : a) What went well? b) What can be improved? and c) What will we focus on improving in the next sprint? Suggestions for improvement can be turned into requirements and put into the product backlog, ensuring that the team commits to them during upcoming sprints.
  6. Repeat every 30 days.

Obviously this list of activities is not enough for team and project success. But it is a good start to review each of these topics in more detail and ultimately get benefits from Scrum.

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