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Key things you need to know about Scrum

It is often said that preparation is half the battle won: read up on Scrum, a framework that allows highly effective collaboration within a team while they work in unity on complex projects.

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As the IT industry grows year after year, there is a relentless demand for developing products of high quality and delivering them fast. This is where the Scrum framework comes in. 

Scrum's advantage over traditional models such as the Waterfall comes to light when there's a complex project at hand. Scrum's flexibility allows for adaptation while with Waterfall, the stages are rigidly set in the beginning. Another benefit is that Scrum involves the stakeholders and asks for their feedback from the very beginning, while with the more traditional methods, the stakeholders come in at the final stages. In addition to that, the team's involvement and level or responsibility is different as with Scrum, the team is cross-functional and they are all responsible for achieving the Sprint goal which strengthens collaboration.

However, Scrum isn't reserved for software development only. Since it's agile, it can be applied in various industries where planning is involved. Being flexible and fast, it provides many benefits, including high transparency, better teamwork, lower costs, and many more. As with anything done for the first time, a company may encounter some challenges while implementing Scrum, but this blog will cover key things you should know and benefits that can be gained by implementing Scrum.

Benefits of Scrum

Being flexible and adaptable, Scrum is mainly used for software development, but it can be applied to various complex projects that cover an innovative range of work. Given that Scrum teams are not overwhelmingly large, it keeps the cost of development low. Adaptability also helps with team creativity and teamwork. As everyone takes responsibility and ownership of the tasks, it achieves high-end results. This quality translates not only to the product but also to customer satisfaction. Since daily meetings provide feedback on delivered results and future work, both Product Owners and shareholders are updated on the progress. This flexibility allows them to make important decisions promptly. In addition, Scrum allows tweaking the direction by producing results in iterations.

As for Scrum Daily meetings, at Barrage, they are usually held at the start of the workday. Since the meeting is limited to 15 minutes, it’s important to keep it concise. When people are passionate about their work, it comes as no surprise that sometimes team members get carried away and start going into details not meant to be discussed on the Daily meeting but fortunately, there are few ways to prevent that. A timer set to 15 minutes can help people stick to the agenda, as well as using a small ball that is passed from team member to team member as they speak so as to always know whose turn it is. And as for team members who are sleepy in the morning and don’t listen intently to other, there’s also a “cure”: we don’t always stick to clockwise or counterclockwise rotations of the speakers but randomize them. 

As you can see, Scrum, for being a simple framework, offers remarkable benefits. To summarize the most sizeable ones, they are:

Higher quality

Scrum's purpose is accomplishing a vision or a goal. To keep the product's features relevant, it defines requirements in time intervals. Daily meetings allow the team and Product Owner to assess progress and address all issues. After Sprint iterations, Sprint Retrospective meeting allows the Scrum team to improve on team-oriented factors such as tools, relationships, processes, and work environment.

Better collaboration and communication

This point feeds into the previous one since the intense focus on teamwork and collaboration leads to a happier and more productive team. Working together daily, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team are all in the loop and can make decisions by consensus.

Lower risk

Scrum mitigates the risk of complete failure, saving ample time and money. Since development is done in sprints, Scrum allows for the high-risk tasks first, so any fails are not that costly. In addition, all iterations should be self-sustaining and bring value, so even if the project gets canceled, progress can be delivered to the client if desired.

Satisfied customers

Scrum produces deliverable and testable results from 1-4 weeks per sprint, allowing the customer to pitch in if any corrections are needed quickly. In addition, having open dialogs speeds up the bug fixing and new features development, which puts clients or stakeholders at ease. Finally, enabling insight and involvement of the Product Owner and stakeholders in the development process makes the whole process transparent and ensures that all expectations are met and managed.

Values of Scrum

Values can be seen as rules to be followed instinctively to reach goals and keep a great work environment with satisfied customers. The values include courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness.

Commitment zooms in on teamwork, where every team member is committed to the team and the project. Being open and transparent about progress and problems allows for quick updates. Focus on the individual tasks ensures that the Sprint goal is achieved and value is added. Courage and respect are knitted into all layers of the project - courage to take on complex tasks and respect towards the team members by trusting everyone to do their work independently.

Overcoming implementation issues

While Scrum is genuinely an excellent framework that, as we mentioned, offers a host of benefits, sometimes the process of implementing it doesn’t always go perfectly smooth. Here is a list of situations that can be challenging together with recommendations on how to overcome the hurdles:  

Changing roles

Changing traditional roles to the ones viable in the scrum framework might take time to implement. Since the change comes at all levels, it affects the whole team structure. In Scrum, Scrum masters should listen to the team and remove impediments instead of managing people. The developers must finish their work without being constantly given instructions and without reverting to traditional working methods.

Adequately defining roles and responsibilities, supporting the team, and helping them remove obstacles can solve the problem of changing roles. The critical point of the Scrum team is teamwork, and hence it is vital to cultivate trust and respect in the group so that the team can seize the benefits of the Scrum framework.

Defined backlogs

Since Scrum framework is adaptive, anyone can add an item to the Product Backlog. From the team’s perspective, this can make the Backlog seem complex and insurmountable.

This can be eliminated by having an acceptance criterion of user stories that need to be complete and adequately testing their usability. Then, the team efficiently reaches the Sprint goal with proper prioritization of items in the Sprint Backlog that add the most value to the product. Estimates for task completion should be done frequently to obtain an accurate estimation.

Sprint metrics

While Sprint is active, teams should stick to the Sprint Backlog. During these 1-4 weeks, the Scrum team should not change the Sprint Backlog. It might seem that this way, Scrum is not as flexible. However, this “inflexibility” presupposes that Sprint Planning is done correctly and will produce the best results. In case stakeholders want to make changes to the Sprint Backlog, it is possible to do so while simultaneously removing the same number of items from it as it is added. The only thing that is not allowed to change is the Sprint goal and quality. 

Elements of Scrum

Now that we’ve gone through the benefits of Scrum as well as some pieces of advice on overcoming issues that may emerge during the implementation process, it would be good to touch briefly upon on its elements in order to get a more complete picture. These elements include the Scrum team, events, and artifacts. 

The Scrum team comprises of:

  • Product Owner conveys to the development team what is necessary to be delivered to the client
  • Scrum Master is a link between the Product Owner and the development team
  • Developers are responsible for creating a plan for the Sprint, assuring quality, adapting their plan daily towards the Sprint Goal, and holding each other accountable as professionals.

These are the Scrum events:

  • Sprints are work cycles that last between 1 and 4 weeks and are repeatable. Sprint starts after Sprint Planning. At Barrage, we’ve found that a 2-week Sprint fit us perfectly.
  • Sprint Planning is a meeting where the team defines what can be delivered and how the work will be done. 
  • Daily Scrum is a 15-minute meeting intended for the Scrum team that happens at the same time and place every working day. Each team member say what they did the previous day, what they’ll be doing today, if they have any obstacles in completing their tasks, or need any help.
  • Sprint Review comes after the Sprint and is a meeting held to inspect the result of the Sprint - the whole Scrum team should be present as well as the stakeholders.
  • Sprint Retrospective most often comes after Sprint Review as it is the last thing done in a Sprint and comes before the next Sprint Planning. The whole team collaborates to see what went well, wrong, and what was learned in the finished sprint. 

Primary scrum artifacts are:

  • Product Backlog serves as an authoritative source of directing team efforts since it contains the list of features that need to be in the product 
  • Sprint backlog is a set of Product Backlog items is selected for the current Sprint 
  • Increments are stepping stones that serve to finish a product goal.

Scrum finale

With the ever-developing IT industry and the corresponding increase in demand for high-quality products and fast delivery deadlines, there is also a need for a flexible framework like Scrum. 

Even though some organizations may run into trouble in implementing it, they can remedy them with careful planning and following values ingrained in Scrum. For example, properly defining Product Backlogs and metrics of a Sprint changing the entire team’s roles might seem like a daunting task. Still, if appropriately implemented, Scrum offers plenty of benefits for both the company and the customer. For example, by focusing on better collaboration and communication between team members, we can easily fulfill set tasks. Sounder quality is also enabled by breaking up more significant tasks into smaller components and finishing the difficult ones first to reduce the long-term risk associated with delayed outcomes.

So now you know how to implement Scrum seamlessly - by understanding Scrum’s value and implementing changes where the team and teamwork become building blocks that do not need to be led but supported.

Scrum was a natural fit for our team to use as a framework since it aligns well with our values. Barrage focuses on a tight-knit company culture that requires courage, focus, commitment, openness, and respect towards work and fellow peers. With the Scrum framework, Barrage showed success in diverse development projects. Higher productivity and quality, adaptability, and ultimately also lower costs, are just some of the benefits that speak of Scrum’s effectiveness and that will make it a go-to framework of choice for years to come. 

Your take on the subject

They say knowledge has power only if you pass it on - we hope our blog post gave you valuable insight.

If you want to share your opinion or learn more about how we develop software products using Scrum, feel free to contact us. We'd love to hear what you have to say!