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.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"

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