“At its root, Scrum is based on a simple idea: whenever you start a project, why not regularly check in, see if what you’re doing is heading in the right direction and if it’s actually what people want? And the question whether there are any ways to improve how you’re doing what you’re doing, any ways of doing it better and faster, and what might be keeping you from doing that.”
― Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
A project can seem a daunting task. IT or infrastructure or any other project can expand over any number of years. Planning for such a long period of time, anticipating the challenges, maintaining the workforce, planning the budgets, and matching the client expectations become difficult.
Hence the project is broken down into smaller bite-sized tasks or activities. This is known as Scrum.
A scrum sprint is a time-bound event in which the team completes a set amount of work that is ready for client review.
Sprint in layman’s terms means to run as fast as you can over a short distance. In the scrum or agile methodology, sprint refers to the short bursts of activities completed within a given timeline to create a potentially shippable product. A sprint cycle can last from 1 to 3 weeks. During each cycle, the scrum master conducts daily meetings to understand the tasks allocated to each team member and any challenges or issues they might be facing.
Before we dive into the process, let’s understand the 3 key roles –
- Product owner – The product owner is responsible for defining the features and attributes of the product
- Scrum master – Leader of the team, responsible for protecting the team, ensuring the process is ongoing, running the meetings, and handling the team issues
- Team – It is a cross-functional group of people handling various responsibilities such as software engineers, developers, testers, QA experts, analysts, system admins, UI designers, etc.
Now that the roles are clear, let’s dive deeper into the sprint process –
- Product backlog – It is a list of all the requirements of the project. The list is continuously improved and contains details of all the versions, iterations, features, user stories, bug fixes, etc. The action items are sorted by priority, risk, and necessity. The high-priority items are listed at the top.
- Sprint planning meeting – The process starts with a planning meeting. This meeting determines the goals of the sprint. Based on the product backlog items which are a list of to-do activities, the action items for the current sprint are selected.
- Daily stand-up meeting – Every day the team gets together for a quick meeting to discuss the daily tasks and challenges if any. The daily scrum meeting is conducted by the scrum master to check the daily progress.
- Burndown charts – These charts show the progress during the sprint.
- Sprint review – It occurs at the end of the sprint when the team demonstrates the completed work to the product owner and discusses the potential improvements for the next sprint.
Scrum sprints are adaptive and collaborative since they break down the work into short tasks to be achieved within a specific time frame.
The key in scrum is to keep the team aligned with the goals and objectives of the project, ensuring good team velocity (velocity is the rate at which the teams can churn out the activities to add value to the project), constantly monitoring the progress, and maintaining records of the progress.
Scrum and agile methodologies are the most sought-after practices in project management. To become a successful project manager understanding them and having practical knowledge is crucial.
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