The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Scrum

Although initially designed for software development teams, Scrum has now become popular across many other fields, from marketing to project management. 

In this post, we’ll explain the basics every Scrum newbie needs to know including what is Scrum, and how to implement it with a little help from Creately to run and manage your projects.

What is Scrum 

According to Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland – who developed Scrum and the Scrum Guide – Scrum is defined as 

 “A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”

Scrum is an agile project management framework and is the most widely used Agile methodology in the world of software development. It focuses on developing new software capability through 2-4 week sprints. 

During the sprints, the Scrum team focuses on developing the most important features first in order to come up with a potentially shippable product. Considering the customer feedback and stakeholder requirements, the rest of the features will be worked on during the subsequent sprints.   

The Scrum promotes teamwork, accountability, clear common goals and continuous improvement of the product as well as that of the team, and the working environment.  

It’s ideally used in projects with requirements that change frequently. Scrum is both iterative and incremental and helps deliver functional products more frequently. 

Benefits of the Scrum include,

  • Faster development of quality products
  • Increased return on investment and lower costs
  • Decrease in time to market 
  • Increased customer satisfaction 
  • More motivated, productive and happier employees 
  • Reduced risk rate 

Now that we know what Scrum is and why it’s beneficial, let’s look at the different components of Scrum. These include Scrum roles, events, and artifacts.

Scrum Roles

Scrum roles include the Scrum master, product owner, and the development team. Together they make up the Scrum team, which is cross-functional and self-organizing. This means their decisions are not controlled by anyone outside the team.

Product Owner 

This is the project’s key stakeholder. He or she is accountable for managing the product backlog. The product owner is also responsible for maximizing the value of the product, the development team is working on. 

Scrum Master 

While the Scrum Master doesn’t have authority over the development team, he or she should make sure that the team adheres to the Scrum theory, rules and values. The Scrum Master acts as a servant-leader to the development team and the product owner. A facilitator, the Scrum Master helps the Scrum team do their best. 

Development Team 

The development team, being self-organizing and cross-functional has all the skills necessary to deliver a “potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint”. The team members hold no titles and no one, including the Scrum Master, tells them “how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality.”

Scrum Artifacts 

There are 3 Scrum artifacts, and they are there to help improve the transparency of important information that the Scrum team and stakeholders need to know. 

Product Backlog

Similar to a to-do list that consists of the work to be done, the product backlog contains the requirements of changes such as new features, enhancements, fixes, etc. that need to be made to the product under development. It’s the job of the product owner to keep the product backlog up-to-date. 

The product backlog changes constantly based on what the product needs to stay competitive and useful. 

product-backlog-board
Product Backlog Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Sprint Backlog

The sprint backlog displays the Product Backlog items that are selected for the Sprint and that needs to be completed to reach the Sprint goal. The development team modifies the Sprint Backlog during the sprint and adds to it as they realize the work that needs to be done to reach the Sprint goal. 

Increment

The Increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items that are completed during the Sprint, including the value of Increments from previous Sprints.   

Scrum Events 

Scrum encourages the project team to hold five key events during the Sprint. Scrum Events are time-boxed events, which means they have a predefined maximum duration. 

They are put in place to avoid spending time on additional and unnecessary meetings.  They provide the chance to inspect the progress of the Sprint and adapt accordingly. 

The Sprint 

The sprint refers to a period of one month or less during which a potentially releasable product is developed. Each Sprint has a goal to be accomplished, a flexible plan guiding how to get there, the steps to be followed, and the consequent product increment.  

Once a sprint is concluded, a new one begins immediately. If the Sprint goal becomes obsolete, a Sprint can be canceled by the Product Owner under the influence of the Scrum Team and the stakeholders. 

Sprint Planning

During the sprint planning, the Scrum team works on figuring out the functionality that will be built during the Sprint, selecting the Product Backlog items and planning how to deliver them. 

This is also a time-boxed event that may be limited to a maximum of 8 hours for a one-month Sprint. However, if it’s a shorter Sprint, this event could be shorter.   

Daily Scrum 

The development team holds the daily Scrum during each day of the week for about 15 minutes to plan the work for the next 24 hours. It gives them the chance to inspect the progress of the work that has been done since the last daily Scrum and plan the work to be done next.

It will be held at the same place and at the same time every day. The team can share what they did yesterday, and what they are doing today and mention anything that is preventing them from doing their work.

daily-standup-template for scrum
Daily Standup Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Sprint Review 

The Sprint Review is held at the end of the Sprint. Here the stakeholders and the Scrum Team will review the Product Backlog and what was done during the Sprint. They will also discuss what’s to be done next to increase the value of the product. For a one-month Sprint, this meeting would take a maximum of 4 hours. 

Sprint Retrospective

Sprint Retrospective refers to the final meeting in the Sprint where the Scrum team gets together to discuss what went well or wrong with regard to people, processes, relationships, and tools, and how to improve themselves to perform better during the next Sprint. 

sprint-retrospective-template
Sprint Retrospective Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

How to Implement Scrum in Your Projects 

By now you know what Scrum is, its purpose, and what it consists of. So, let’s look at the Scrum process – or how to actually implement Scrum to manage your projects. 

Here Creately will help you as a visual collaboration platform to work online with your team. Let’s explore ways you can use Creately to accelerate and simplify the Scrum process. 

1. Building the Scrum Team(s)

Larger organizations may have several Scrum teams, and with the help of an organizational chart, they can effectively manage the task of putting a competent cross-functional team together.  An org chart can help you understand how the necessary skills and knowledge are spread across the team at a glance.

scrum-orgchart
Scrum Team Org Chart Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

2. Creating the Product Backlog 

The product backlog consists of a wishlist of user stories to be completed during the sprint or all the requirements of changes that need to be made to the product. It can be used as an effective way for the team to communicate what they are working on and planning to do next. 

You can use sticky notes and a whiteboard here, or a tool like Creately which allows everyone, including external stakeholders, to collaborate in real-time and also keep things backed up in the cloud.

user-story-map-template
User Story Map Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

3. Plan the Sprint 

Conduct Sprint Planning meetings to select items from the Product Backlog for the upcoming Sprint. Define the Sprint goal and create a Sprint backlog.

  • Using Creately you can swiftly create a high-level schedule of your Sprint. This can be used to allocate time for the tasks at hand and keep everyone informed of the deadlines.
sprint-schedule
Sprint Schedule Template (Click on the template to edit it online)
  • Or you can use a product roadmap which is a high-level plan that shows how your product will evolve. It will help you highlight major releases and product versions. 
product roadmap for scrum
Product Roadmap Template (Click on the template to edit it online)
  • Assigning tasks: It would help if each team member knew what their responsibilities are. As the product backlog informs what the team needs to do, you can use a swimlane chart to clarify what each member of the development team should be working on during the Sprint.
Sprint Tasks Flowchart (Click on the template to edit it online)
  • Creating the sprint backlog: This shows which product backlog items you are working on during the current Sprint. This is similar to the product backlog itself. Once you create the Sprint Backlog in Creately, invite the development team to collaborate on expanding it. Any changes anyone makes will be reflected immediately on the canvas, and you can use comments and discussion threads to share feedback.
scrum-board-template
Scrum Board Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

4. Sprint review and retrospective

At the end of the Sprint, hold a Sprint Review to showcase completed work and gather feedback from stakeholders. Conduct a Sprint Retrospective meeting to reflect on the Sprint, discuss what went well, and identify areas for improvement.

Retrospective Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Ready to Start Your First Scrum Project? 

We hope this guide has helped you internalize what is Scrum. Use the provided templates to get a headstart with your project. 

Got more questions? Or tips? Share them with us in the comments section below. 

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Author

Amanda Athuraliya

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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