Scrum Framework: Effective Collaboration & Productive Teams

Project Management

by Marta Kuzma , 19 August 2022

Are you ready to start your company’s next project but unsure how to meet your goals? Consider managing your team with Scrum. The Scrum framework empowers your development team to produce quality products and services.

The Scrum approach helps make the amount of work more manageable while you refine your overarching vision and advance toward successful results. Here’s a simple, clear overview of Scrum and how it can benefit your organization.

What Is Scrum?

What does Scrum mean? Scrum is a project management framework that values teamwork, adaptation, and continuous improvement. It outlines specific roles, key information, and meeting cadences to help teams achieve their objectives and generate quality products or services.  

Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber created Scrum to improve software development. Now, practically any business can apply Scrum to their operations. Doing so can empower teams to be more productive as they plan, execute, reflect, and adapt in iterative cycles.

The benefits of Scrum include:

  • Clearly defined short-term goals: Gives your staff immediate objectives to pursue even when the overarching vision is flexible. 

  • Timely completion: Constant forward momentum through sprints helps mitigate stagnation, wasted time, and missed deadlines.

  • Collaboration and communication: Cultivates teamwork. Stakeholders solve problems together and share perspectives during recurrent meetings.

  • Flexibility: Allows teams to adapt to new circumstances or priorities as they arise.

  • Tested, relevant products: Goods and services are scrutinized and improved throughout the project lifecycle rather than only at the end stages of development. 

  • Ongoing growth: Welcomes feedback from customers and stakeholders. Provides room for reflection and improvement in the Scrum cycle.

Of the many project management approaches, the Scrum process is ideal for highly collaborative, cross-functional teams that develop complex, customer-oriented products. However, you can use Scrum elements to fit the context of any business.

Scrum Principles & Values

The Scrum framework is built on a series of principles that promote key values as defined in The Scrum Guide™. These lay the groundwork for Scrum practices, guiding your team’s approach to project completion

What are the three principles of Scrum? The pillars of the Scrum approach to project management are:

  • Transparency: Participants must see the big picture by having visibility to each other’s progress and challenges, even if they’re not directly involved.

  • Inspection: Frequently assess progress for potential problems as the team advances toward the project goals and develops deliverables.

  • Adaptation: Processes must be altered to account for unexpected influences or new information.

In order for Scrum’s principles to be upheld, a workplace must encourage its key values. What are the five core Scrum values? 

  • Commitment: Everyone is personally dedicated to doing their part of the project. The team fails or succeeds as a group.

  • Courage: Participants aren’t afraid to raise concerns, suggest changes, or face tough problems.

  • Focus: Distractions must be avoided so everyone can focus on the current sprint’s goals.

  • Openness: Ongoing communication and transparency allow everyone to have a clear picture of both progress and impediments.

  • Respect: Team members are empowered to be self-directed and are equally valued for their contributions. 

Understanding these fundamentals will help you implement Scrum practices more effectively, as your project team holds these tenets at the core of everything they do. 

Scrum vs. Agile

If you’ve heard of Scrum, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Agile, too. Let’s look at how Scrum and Agile are related, and how they are different.

Agile is another project management system that uses an iterative, incremental approach to project completion. This approach introduced the concept of sprints, breaking down large objectives into small, short-range tasks. The Agile framework also employs user stories and milestone retrospectives to achieve ongoing improvement through frequent reflection.

These two frameworks are very complementary and are often paired together as the Agile-Scrum methodology. That’s because Agile principles are very similar to Scrum principles, as they both value collaboration, adaptability, empowering individuals, user feedback, and continuous improvement.

The difference between Scrum and Agile is that Agile is a broader, overarching approach to project management. Scrum is one of many frameworks that follows an Agile approach. That’s why Agile software development often involves Scrum events, which takes the expansive ideas of Agile and solidifies them into actionable practices.

Other Agile-type methodologies include Waterfall and Kanban.

Scrum Roles

The scrum framework establishes three important roles that have particular responsibilities on a Scrum team. What are the Scrum roles?

  • Scrum Master: A Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring the team abides by Scrum values and follows Scrum practices. They establish the structure that the Scrum team operates within. This includes facilitating daily standups and other meetings, conducting reviews, gathering feedback, and empowering team members. 

  • Product Owner: The product owner’s job is to speak for the product on the Scrum team. They understand the product best, both on a functional level and the bigger picture of its place on the market. This often involves monitoring the Scrum team’s actions so they align with product goals, speaking for product managers, advocating for the product vision, and managing the backlog. 

  • Development team members: These contributors make up the rest of the Scrum team. They do the hands-on work of completing tasks like product development, testing, data analysis, and sprint planning. Individual responsibilities vary widely based on your company and project goals. 

Software development teams who use the Scrum approach should be small, with 10 or fewer members. Communication and collaboration can become less efficient when too many people are involved.

Why are these distinct roles important for a Scrum team? Appointing participants to lead different aspects of the project ensures everyone’s responsibilities are clear, their strongest skills are being utilized, and no part of the project falls through the cracks. 

Scrum Events

Another important part of Scrum theory is the institution of specific events throughout the project’s lifecycle. Scrum events establish a regular sequence of phases in each cycle. The recommended events are:

  • Sprint planning: Before each sprint occurs, the team gathers for a planning session. The aim of this planning meeting is to assess backlog items, establish goals for this specific sprint, determine individual tasks, and distribute work among the team.

  • Sprints: This is the timebox when the planned work is completed. It usually lasts 2-4 weeks if approached effectively. Sprints should be stable and predictable, so avoid altering course until the end of the sprint if possible.

  • Daily Scrums: A daily Scrum is a short meeting when team members gather to hash out the specifics of completing their work. Regular communication encourages associates to share challenges and offer ideas for actionable progress. 

  • Sprint reviews: Once a sprint concludes, the Scrum team presents their work and they compare the results to the sprint’s goals. The outcome helps form the goals of the next Scrum. 

  • Sprint retrospectives: This reflection looks back on how the sprint went from a process perspective. Could any changes be made to improve efficiency or effectiveness in the next sprint?

Instituting these events on a recurring basis will help minimize the need for other meetings, as every factor of project development should already be addressed during one of these stages. Using an effective project management software also improves coordination among your Scrum team.

Scrum Artifacts

During your Scrum project, you’ll analyze artifacts to determine what needs to be done and to examine what has already been completed. Scrum artifacts correspond to key data or work that result from the Scrum experience. Key artifacts include: 

  • Product backlog: A comprehensive, systematic catalog of ways that the final product or service can be improved by developers. Product backlogs are assessed during Sprint planning meetings to determine what needs to be prioritized in the next push in improvement.

  • Sprint backlog: The group of product backlog items that your Scrum team has chosen to tackle during the current sprint. These will be your developers’ priorities for this timebox. 

  • Product increment: The ongoing sum of progress based on completed backlog items from current and prior sprints. Increments are typically identified as observable or functional improvements in the product that result from backlot items being done.

  • Sprint burndown: A burndown chart (or burn-up) is a common method of tracking and communicating progress during a sprint. They’re often utilized during daily Scrum meetings to visually identify how much work remains in the current sprint so developers can act accordingly.

  • Scrum metrics: These provide insight for the Scrum team to track and analyze their processes. Metrics vary based on the product and objectives, but every Scrum team should agree upon valuable data points to track so they can optimize efficiency and effectiveness at review periods. Having Scrum metrics helps your team objectify progress so planning and assessment are more successful.

Empiricism is crucial in the Scrum approach, and these key artifacts help teams shape their plans and progress using observable, evidence-based means.

Use the scrum framework to improve communication and effectiveness of your team

Following an Agile methodology like Scrum on your next project can drastically improve its chance of success. Scrum concepts can improve communication and productivity within your company. If you want to learn more, you can enroll in training classes to apply the Scrum development process. 

Or simplify things and hire a freelancer who’s already a Scrum master. MVP Match maintains an extensive roster of freelance experts on Scrum development techniques. These talented professionals are used to working on Agile teams alongside employed staff to enhance product development. Contact MVP Match to get connected with the right freelancers for your Scrum team. 

If you’re a freelancer looking for a new challenge, apply to join MVP Match’s network of professionals. We’ve helped numerous companies around the globe connect with developers and managers like you who provide the skills they need to achieve success.

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