Understanding Scrum

Understanding Scrum


What is Scrum

Scrum can be defined as a framework facilitating complex projects by team collaboration. Its main focus is on teamwork as the backbone of project management, with iterative progress and accountability as the main qualities for reaching the predefined goal. Scrum recognizes that there are both unpredictable challenges and requirements volatility (i.e. the customers tend to change their mind during the process) which are natural for any complex work and therefore it refuses a traditional linear approach to product development.

The term Scrum comes from rugby terminology. In rugby, scrum is short for scrummage and it denotes the method of restarting the play. It requires players to pack together with their heads down and focused on gaining possession of the ball. In an abstract sense, scrum a formation of players with specific roles, working towards a swift adoption of the mutual strategy. This easy-to-understand idea is the base of the Scrum framework while its mastery, however, may be somewhat challenging.


History of Scrum Methodology

The name Scrum makes its first appearance back in the 1980s, specifically in a paper written by Japanese management experts Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. In their paper published in 1986, they refer to Scrum while linking project success to team collaboration. The first Scrum Team is formed in 1993, developing what’s known today as Scrum 0 programs. Scrum is officially introduced in 1995 at the OOPSLA conference in Austin, Texas, by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. At this conference, Scrum is presented as a process that combines the already known and used tools and techniques with the best build systems available on the market.

The first working definition of Scrum is formed in 1998 as Scrum 1.0 is introduced. Two organizations are formed at the down of the new millennium: Scrum Alliance in 2002, founded by Ken Schwaber and Scrum Inc., in 2006, established by Jeff Sutherland. Both of them offered certified Scrum courses and Scrum Master programs. In 2009, a new company headed by Schwaber under the name of Scrum Org. published the first Scrum Guide as well as the Professional Scrum series. Fully scalable Scrum 3.0 was formalized in 2016.


Agile vs. Scrum

Scrum and Agile methodologies are closely connected. The main proponents of Scrum methodology, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland were among the fifteen software developments who created the Manifest for Agile Software Development in 2001. Schwaber became the first chairman of the newly established Agile Alliance while at the same time managing his own company Scrum Org.

While Agile can be understood as an umbrella over a whole array of methodologies in project management, Scrum is a specific framework that can be followed. Therefore, Scrum is part of the Agile philosophy and a concrete way of implementing the main ideas of the Agile.


Scrum sprints

Scrum is primarily designed for teams with fewer than ten persons. The workload is broken into individual goals and these goals are reached within so-called sprints. The sprints are timeboxed iterations which take on average 7-30 days. Each sprint is preceded by a spring planning event during which the sprint goal is established. The team also agrees on the duration of the sprint, the scope of the work that is to be done during the sprint, and its tasks, or so-called product backlog items.

The team meets regularly, ideally every day, to hold a daily scrum (known as Stand up) where the progress on the tasks is discussed. The three main topics of the daily scrum are the performance of the previous day, the goal for the day ahead, and the potential challenges of reaching it. The impediments brainstormed and recognized at the scrum is written down on a scrum board, followed by an appointment of a person who will be responsible for overseeing the resolution. All this takes place is 15 minutes and the team members at the same time and the same place. Additional breakout session (also called after-party) may be held by individual members if necessary.

A spring ends once the goals are met. Two events follow the end of the sprint: sprint review and sprint retrospective. While the sprint review is the demonstration of the completed task to the stakeholders and takes about two hours on the average, two-week-long sprints, the sprint retrospective serves the team to reflect on the completed sprint and identify areas of improvement for the future projects.


Scrum roles

There are three roles identified within the framework of Scrum: product owner, Scrum Master, and the development team.

The product owner represents the interest of the stakeholders or the customers and the delivery of good business results is his most important responsibility. The main role of the product owner is to maximize the value of the product made by the development team, to manage the product backlog, and to ensure fruitful communication between stakeholders and the development team.

The Scrum Master is the leader of the development team. He is there to ensure that the techniques and rules of the scrum are closely observed and followed. Scrum Master makes sure that every member of the team understands the theory of scrum and adheres to it. He moderates the scrum daily meetings and facilitates communication among the team members. Scrum Master oversees the management of the product backlog and guarantees its highest possible effectiveness.

The development team consists of professionals who work on the project independently. The team has three to nine members who self-organize themselves and their work. While each member of the team performs a specific task as a designer, programmer, researcher, statistician, tester or data specialist, they are also encouraged to be in direct contact with the stakeholders or customers for facilitating the feedback.


Pros and Cons of Scrum

Scrum is a popular framework within Project Management, simply because it facilitates the project and helps the involved teams deliver it quickly and efficiently. It divides large projects into smaller sprints that are easy to manage while guarantees effective use of resources. Scrum is a methodology that works well for fast-moving projects where flexibility is of utmost importance. At the same time, implementing Scrum may turn out to be a mistake in the case of large teams (more than ten members per team), inexperienced or uncommitted team members, and without a thorough testing process.


Reference Literature

Janoff, N.S.; Rising, L. (2000). "The Scrum Software Development Process for Small Teams". available from: http://faculty.salisbury.edu/~xswang/Research/Papers/SERelated/scrum/s4026.pdf

Sutherland, Jeff; Schwaber, Ken (2013). "Scrum Guides“. available from: https://www.scrumguides.org/


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