what-is-scrum

What Is Scrum? The Agile Framework For An Effective Startup Process

Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Trust the process

While agile is a set of principles that drive the activities in software development.

Scrum is a methodology that applies those principles to make software development faster and more productive. However, Scrum has also become a methodology for project management in the startup world.

When Jared Dunn (the character in Silicon Valley Series) in the vest of business developer convinces Pied Piper’s founder, Richard Hendricks to use the Scrum methodology, Richard was a skeptic.

Why would a group of smart software engineers fall into a management strategy? Well, it turned out he was wrong. In fact, Scrum is a process envisioned to make software development lighter, faster and more suited to customers’ needs.

The method is now also used by startups for project management. Yet in reality, Scrum was a methodology born from the Agile Manifesto a set of principles put together in 2001 by software development experts.

Heavyweight vs.lightweight software development

The agile manifesto started out as a movement that wanted to challenge the assumption of the so-called heavyweight methods for software development that were based on more sophisticated and regulated approaches.

In fact, Scrum evolved as a lightweight software development method. The main difference between heavyweight vs. lightweight is fundamental. In fact, heavyweight software development methodologies, which prevailed a few decades back, consisted of many rules and protocols to follow.

Instead, a lightweight methodology is based on a few basic guiding principles. And it all started with the agile manifesto.

Agile manifesto: the guiding principles of Scrum methodology

In 2001, a group of seventeen software developers met to discuss these lightweight development methods, with the aim of challenging the old assumption of heavyweight software development.

They forged “The Agile Alliance,” as a group of independent thinkers about software development, which agreed on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Together they published the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. It comprises twelve guiding principles from which many applications (comprising Scrum) were born.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Some of those principles might be given for granted today yet they were not at all back in 2001. This manifesto represents the founding document for the Scrum methodology.

What are the benefits of using Scrum?

The benefits of using Scrum can be linked to the advantage of using an agile development methodology. Organizations that have adopted agile Scrum should experience:

  • Happier customers due to more responsive to development requests by the software development company
  • Higher returns are given by the ability of the software developer to focus on high-impacting features
  • Better organization of work based on the team’s ability to work together
  • Reduced time to market due to the more efficient organization

The Scrum elements

The Scrum methodology comprises three main components and a set of rules.

The Scrum Team

Within the team, there are three primary roles. It is important to remark that there is no hierarchy in the Scrum methodology. But each of the team members will be accountable for a specific part of the project.

  • The Product Owner: this person is primarily accountable for managing the completed increments of work.
  • The ScrumMaster: this person does anything possible to help the team perform at the highest level.
  • The Development Team: There are no titles in the Development Team. The main aim is to break down the product into items that can be incrementally implemented

Scrum Events (so-called Ceremonies)

  • The Sprint:  2-4 weeks period in which a specific part of the work is completed
  • Sprint Planning: those are meetings to assess which part of the product can be completed
  • The Daily Stand-up:  it is a short meeting of no more than 15 minutes to evaluate the progress of the project
  • The Sprint Review: a demonstration to present the work completed during the sprint
  • The Retrospective:  final team meeting to assess what worked and what didn’t to improve the process

Scrum Artifacts

  • Product Backlog: outlines every requirement for a system, project or product. It can be a to-do list consisting of work items
  • Sprint Backlog: list of items to be completed during the sprint
  • Increment: is the list of items completed after the last software release

Scrum Rules

The team will define those rules according to the organization’s values and expectations. Thus there isn’t a simple set of rules to follow.

Scrum guide

You can start right now to learn everything you need to know about Scrum from the official Scrum online guide.

Key takeaways

The Scrum methodology is based on the Agile Manifesto created in 2001. It is a project management process whose primary aim is to make complex product development more effective.

This methodology that has mainly been used for software development can be applied to startup project management processes. The important aspect of Scrum is that there are not hierarchical structures or roles.

Handpicked business models:

Related Agile Business Frameworks

AIOps

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AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

Agile Methodology

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Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.

Agile Project Management

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Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.

Agile Modeling

agile-modeling
Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

Agile Business Analysis

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Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Business Model Innovation

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Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Continuous Innovation

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That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

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A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Design Thinking

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Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

DevOps

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DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.

Dual Track Agile

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Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.

Feature-Driven Development

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Feature-Driven Development is a pragmatic software process that is client and architecture-centric. Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an agile software development model that organizes workflow according to which features need to be developed next.

eXtreme Programming

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eXtreme Programming was developed in the late 1990s by Ken Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Ward Cunningham. During this time, the trio was working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System (C3) to help manage the company payroll system. eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology. It is designed to improve software quality and the ability of software to adapt to changing customer needs.

Lean vs. Agile

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The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

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A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.

Kanban

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Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.

Rapid Application Development

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RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Scaled Agile

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Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Spotify Model

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The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

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As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.

Timeboxing

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Timeboxing is a simple yet powerful time-management technique for improving productivity. Timeboxing describes the process of proactively scheduling a block of time to spend on a task in the future. It was first described by author James Martin in a book about agile software development.

Scrum

what-is-scrum
Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Scrum Anti-Patterns

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Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

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Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.

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