Scrum project management is one of many approaches in project management that aims to optimize time and costs for project efficiency.
Scrum has emerged as one of the most popular frameworks within the Agile methodology, standing out from its “brother” frameworks. As a result, it is applied in product development, construction, marketing, finance, and other business areas.
However, the application of Scrum requires meeting several prerequisites. That is why we have prepared a text to break down Scrum into essential elements, making it easier to decide on its implementation.
So, let’s dive right in!
What is Scrum?
Scrum is one of the Agile methodology frameworks commonly applied in software development and other industries. It is based on experiential learning—gaining knowledge through experience.
No magic wand or book can explain what to do and how to implement Scrum successfully. The essence lies in experience. Everything a team goes through during a project represents the knowledge its members have acquired, which is the foundation for making future decisions.
Scrum follows a continuous cycle, especially regarding sprints and the results they bring. The completion of each cycle of sprints brings a specific value to the team, which they incorporate into the next cycle and so on.
Another characteristic and important part of Scrum is the product and sprint backlog. Scrum project management emphasizes the importance of prioritizing tasks that must be executed, known as the product backlog. Each product backlog has a partner in the sprint backlog, which outlines the prioritization of the tasks in a specific sprint.
After the closure of a sprint cycle, the completed items from the product backlog are analyzed and added to the backlogs from previous sprints. In this way, Scrum allows bringing new knowledge and experience to the team with the completion of each sprint cycle, progressively moving the project toward successful realization.
History of Scrum
Scrum’s story began in the early 1990s when the software industry faced certain challenges. Traditional project management methodologies proved rigid, struggling to keep pace with rapid changes.
Recognizing the need for a more dynamic approach, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber embarked on a quest to redefine project management. Inspired by their shared experiences and motivated by the need for change, Sutherland and Schwaber worked to develop a new framework to harness collaboration, adaptability, and transparency.
Their vision was to create a methodology to enhance productivity while enabling teams to respond quickly to shifting requirements. In 1993, Sutherland and Schwaber and several other prominent figures in the software industry presented their revolutionary ideas at the OOPSLA (Object-Oriented, Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications) conference.
Here, Scrum was introduced to the world as a concept emphasizing self-organizing teams and interactive development. The meaning of Scrum originated from the game of rugby, which refers to a formation of players working together to move the ball forward. This analogy perfectly captured the essence of the new methodology, where teams collaborate and adapt to achieve goals.
Scrum Project Management: 3 Fundamental Principles
Let’s look at the three fundamental Scrum project management principles that will help you understand its application better.
#1. Project Visibility
Project visibility, or transparency, is the first pillar of Scrum. It is essential to provide everyone involved in the project with access to information and data. That includes all relevant information, not just those related to their tasks.
They should be aware of project risks, issues that arise during the project, client feedback, and other relevant data. In that way, each team member will have a complete understanding of what is happening on the project, which practically influences their further behavior, fostering collaboration and information exchange.
On the other hand, this principle is two-way, meaning team members send data obtained from their actions to the “center,” creating a basis for later actions.
#2. Regular Project Review
Review each sprint cycle, not just the project as a whole. Inspecting the sprint cycle will identify any problems, highlight areas for improvement, and identify what worked well.
This is another example of empirical learning because team members gain new knowledge after reviewing each sprint cycle.
#3. High Adaptability
For the benefits that Scrum project management can bring, willingness and adaptability are necessary. Adaptation serves as the connecting factor and integrates previous principles into a whole.
All the information obtained after analyzing sprints and results shared among team members threatens to remain mere words on paper if the members are not ready to adapt to the new situations.
For example, if the data shows issues with the application’s performance during testing, and the parameters indicate how the team can solve the problem, team members must have an open-minded approach, accept new perspectives, and engage in problem-solving.
Scrum Project Management Roles
The Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scrum Team play a significant role in the successful implementation of Scrum.
The Scrum Master is a professional who acts as a connecting factor and coach for both the Product Owner and Scrum Team members. They serve as an advocate for the Scrum framework and are responsible for educating the team on all aspects of the Scrum principles and practices, including sprint planning, daily scrums, and sprint reviews.
The Scrum Master is also instrumental in the partnership with the Product Owner, helping foster a setting conducive to growth and development.
The Product Owner is a crucial cog in the Scrum application. They lay the basis and structure for spreading the Scrum principles and practices. The Product Owner facilitates discussions and meetings between the Scrum Master, Scrum Team, stakeholders, project managers, and others.
The Product Owner seeks customer comments and market trends with the intent to have all the relevant information necessary to create the product backlog, which affects the sprint backlog.
The Scrum Team is essential to the system’s functioning and success. Therefore, it must have access to all pertinent information and expertise and be able to absorb it.
Furthermore, the team’s responsibility is to share their knowledge and the results they have achieved. The team’s willingness to adapt to changes and solve problems will largely depend on their collective effort and collaboration.
Applying Scrum to Project Management
Scrum principles benefit project management as they enable businesses to streamline complex projects into specific processes adapted to the Scrum way of working. By incorporating these principles, organizations can effectively track the progress of activities within a project.
We will further discuss the planning and valuable contribution of Scrum sprints to the final project products, as they achieve this by incorporating the principles of Scrum and effectively tracking the progress of activities within the project.
Sprint Planning Meeting
The Sprint Planning Meeting facilitates collaboration and active discussion regarding the tasks to accomplish in the upcoming sprint. This meeting involves the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team, each with their respective roles, but all collectively engaging in discussions and aligning their perspectives for the upcoming sprint.
The Scrum Master is facilitative in the Sprint Planning Meeting, aiming to streamline the meeting and propose solutions. The Scrum Master primarily supports the team, while the Product Owner actively presents the tasks to the Development Team that require execution in the sprint.
The Product Owner takes the responsibility of prioritizing tasks based on their importance and urgency, while the Development Team actively provides input on the work tasks, considering their capacity to effectively complete the required work.
At the end of this meeting, all parties should reach a consensus on a clear Sprint Backlog that aligns with the set goals and the team’s capacity.
The team performs regular progress tracking during the sprint through daily meetings known as Scrums. In these Scrums, the Development Team updates their tasks, including what they accomplished the previous day, what tasks they plan to work on that day, and what challenges they encountered while executing their duties.
This daily communication ensures the flow of information and maintains transparency throughout the process. By closely monitoring the sprint’s progress, the team can quickly address any observed deviations, make adjustments, and execute necessary course corrections to achieve the goals.
Progress tracking reflects the team’s focus and dedication to the assigned tasks.
At the end of each sprint, the team conducts a Sprint Review, where they collectively present and review the work accomplished from the Sprint Backlog. That involves engaging with stakeholders to receive feedback on the sprint’s outcomes.
The Product Owner gathers and processes the stakeholders’ input, including suggestions, comments, and proposals. He or she uses these insights to refine and enhance the subsequent Sprint Backlog.
This iterative process allows for continuous improvement as relevant information is gathered and incorporated from one sprint to another.
Release Planning involves making informed decisions regarding the desired outcome. After completing several sprints, the team actively applies the relevant insights gathered through task execution and stakeholder feedback.
They utilize these insights to make appropriate modifications and provide a final product vision.
Release planning aims to align the team’s understanding and incorporate the identified knowledge into shaping the ultimate version of the product.
Scrum Project Management Advantages
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages Scrum project management provides.
- Increased Flexibility. The Scrum methodology facilitates individual development within the team by offering opportunities for expressing opinions, providing suggestions, and active participation, especially in sprint planning meetings.
During these meetings, team members discuss everything with the Product Owner, collaboratively assessing the sprint backlogs and evaluating the feasibility of planned work. This collaborative approach contributes to the achievement of successful outcomes.
- Improved Collaboration. Regular sprint scrum meetings and daily scrums enable effective communication and ongoing exchange of experiences, knowledge, and information among team members.
Through collaborative efforts involving teams, the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, and stakeholders, the organization’s overall functioning improves, thereby contributing to successful project outcomes.
- Enhanced Transparency. Leveraging the Scrum methodology, mainly through planning meetings, daily scrums, and reviews, facilitates communication of pertinent project status information within and outside the organization.
This transparency enhances project visibility, ensuring the seamless transmission of critical information and thereby playing a significant role in the project’s overall success.
- Continuous Improvement. Scrum project management principles underpin the Scrum methodology and provide a framework for constant improvement.
Through communication and ongoing review of work with stakeholder feedback, there is an opportunity for continuous refinement of desired outcomes, adaptation to consumer needs and client requirements, and better marker positioning.
Scrum Project Management Disadvantages
Every project management framework comes with both advantages and disadvantages, and Scrum is no exception. With that in mind, let’s see what some of these disadvantages are:
- Complexity. Introducing the Scrum methodology is a complex task, as it requires a mindset shift within the organization to truly embrace and work according to Scrum principles. Successful adoption of the framework relies on the concerted efforts of the entire team, thorough training initiatives, and a deep understanding of Scrum concepts.
It demands a certain period of adaptation and the introduction of mentoring and education. So, without collective effort, training, and understanding, employees may revert to old working methods.
- Dependency on collaboration and communication. While Scrum methodology encourages communication and cooperation, the success of these approaches depends on the people in the team, their commitment, openness, and understanding, particularly in remote work situations, where communication can be more challenging without physical proximity. Additionally, factors like diverse individual cultures, lifestyles, and time zones can make effective communication difficult.
- Limited suitability for fixed deadlines. Scrum is only one of the suitable frameworks for projects with inflexible deadlines. The foundation of the Scrum methodology is based more on continuous learning and improvement, resulting in higher-quality outcomes.
However, it does not prioritize rigid deadlines but focuses on constantly striving to improve performance. Therefore, Scrum may be flawed for projects relying on fixed timeframes.
- Scope creep. The way Scrum operates, with its sprints aimed at continuously monitoring and reviewing work to identify and address issues promptly, can lead to introducing changes to improve the existing model and further enhance it.
However, this can result in delays and increased costs as new requirements and modifications arise, causing scope creep.
Scrum vs. Agile vs. Kanban
Before we move on to the comparison, let’s start by looking at the Agile methodology, which forms the basis for Scrum and Kanban.
Agile methodology contains a set of principles enshrined in the Agile Manifesto. Many of these principles are characteristic of both Scrum and Kanban, and that is the most crucial similarity between Agile and its two most commonly used frameworks.
They are part of the same Agile family, aiming for the following:
- Putting team members and their effective communication first
- Using software over extensive documentation
- Collaborating with clients and customers
- Adapting to changes
On the one hand, Scrum breaks down a project into smaller parts and aims to complete them through iterative sprints. Each sprint cycle provides new knowledge to the Scrum Team members, facilitating the subsequent sprints and improving the projects. This process continues until the project’s completion.
Scrum involves the division of roles among participants, including the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and employees as Scrum Team members.
On the other hand, the Kanban relies on a board containing a list of tasks that must be executed during the project. The board includes three columns:
- The first column represents the tasks ready for execution
- The second column represents the tasks that are in progress
- The third column represents completed tasks
This visual representation allows employees to see the work that needs to be finalized and the phase in which the top priority tasks are, reducing work in progress and increasing efficiency.
In addition to the apparent differences between these two frameworks, they also differ in role division. Kanban does not have clearly defined roles like Scrum, and tasks are assigned more spontaneously. There is also a difference in the time factor, as there is no predetermined timeframe for completing individual tasks in Kanban.
To facilitate the implementation of Scrum in project management, you should have access to tools or software that will be your valuable allies in all Scrum activities. So, let’s explore three commonly used tools that offer various benefits.
Trello offers a wide range of options that will help you automate processes and achieve an optimal workflow, and it will provide real-time visibility into all parts of the project and its progress.
With Trello boards, teams can outline the scope of a sprint. That means that each team member can see cards on the boards for the project backlog, ready tasks, tasks in progress, tasks under review, and the sprint’s conclusion.
Here are some of the Trello’s useful features:
- Dashboard view: Provides an easier way to track sprint progress
- Timeline view: Shows any overlaps and indicates the availability of Scrum Team members
- Labels and checklists: Facilitate the organization of smaller tasks within Trello
- Setting approximate deadlines: Guides the Scrum Team towards more efficient action
#2. Zoho Sprints
Similar to Trello, Zoho Sprint will optimize Scrum through the following features:
- Product Backlog
- Scrum board
- Epics (comments related to feedback, bugs, and suggestions)
- Quality reports
- Feed flow
Orangescrum is another option that users from various industries happily turn to. It provides everything that an efficient project management team needs. In terms of Scrum, Orangescrum offers the following features:
- Customized task statuses and tailored workflow
- Scrum boards and sprint reports
- Velocity charts for improved planning and forecasting
- Backlog, where team can list and manage product ideas, stories, tasks, bugs, and subtasks
Scrum Project Management Example
Imagine a company that provides legal services and wants to create a software program representing a legal database.
Adopting the Scrum methodology for the development of this legal database would involve the collaborative work of a team of designers and programmers responsible for the database, along with a team of experts who would provide input on the necessary content (laws, case precedents, expert articles, answers to legal questions, etc.).
Additionally, a Product Owner would define the tasks for each sprint, where each sprint would aim to complete a specific set of work until the final release of the legal database program. After the initial program projection, the Product Owner would present the legal database to stakeholders.
Their feedback, suggestions, and requirements would be taken into account (for example, suggestions on how to efficiently manage the legal database and quickly access the necessary information, as well as what else the legal database should include).
This feedback would then be translated into practical solutions during the subsequent sprint backlog, leading to a product that addresses the needs and desires of both the stakeholders and the organization’s operations.
Finally, the Scrum Master would facilitate meetings and ensure that the work is guided by Scrum principles, promoting effective communication among the teams and between the Product Owner, teams, and stakeholders.
Scrum establishes a strong bond among project participants through complete transparency, where information, thoughts, and strategies are openly shared. This collaborative environment fosters the creation of the optimal outcome, continually evolving with the collective expertise and skills gained by the team.
As a result, Scrum’s work methodology consistently delivers high-quality outcomes, continuously empowering team members to enhance their knowledge and proficiency throughout the process.