SCRUM and Agile Project Management

Date: 2020-04-28

Project management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge, and experience to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time. However, the challenge of every project in real-world is to achieve its goals with all constraints in mind.

In today’s world Project management as a concept and its tools are well known to both businesses and governmental institutions. Project management is mainly used when you need to focus on specific project objectives that are beneficial to the organization. 

Some of the key elements of Project management are:-

1. Goal setting:  They should mainly be set-up at the start of any project.

2. Time & Cost: One or both are usually the constraint during any project management process.

3. Team-work: Almost all projects are done in teams and hence team-work is essential.

4. Risks: All projects involve risks, thus having foresight of risk is necessary during the process.

Ever since the prominence of the project management concept, there have developed many tools to conduct the process. However today, the “key elements” play a major role in determining which of the tools to be used to manage a particular project.

The last few decades have been referred to as the “Information Era” and Information technology (IT) playing a role in all aspects of life and majorly in the field of Business. Agile software development refers to software development methodologies centered around the idea of iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration developers and end-clients. 

Agile is a process by which a project is broken up into several stages and involves in each stage:

1. Constant collaboration with stakeholders 

2. Continuous improvement and iteration 

Agile development is aligned to the Agile Manifesto developed by 17 top software professionals. The 4 values of the manifesto are as follows:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

4. Responding to change over following a plan


Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. It is designed to deal with unpredictability and complexity in a project. The benefits of an Agile Scrum technique are:

1. Increase the quality of the deliverables

2. Cope better with change (and expect the changes)

3. Provide better estimates while spending less time creating them

4. Be more in control of the project schedule and state

Scrum Values & pillars

In the scrum process there are certain values that all scrum members have to abide by these are:

1. Commitment

2. Courage

3. Focus

4. Respect

5. Openness

These values along with the pillars of transparency, Inspection & Adaptation help to determine the success of the scrum process.

Scrum Team

The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. The scrum members need to be cross-functional and goal-oriented.  Cross-functional teams are needed to ensure flexibility & creativity at the work. Goal-oriented members are needed to ensure that they take responsibility and carry out their individual functions keeping in mind their roles have an impact on the team level.

Product Owner

The person here is the most impacted by the end result of the project. They are the ones who provide the requirements for the project. They are the bridge between the business, customer & the product/services. The product owner is the single link between the Scrum Team and the customers. 

The essential roles that a Product Owner has are:

1. Product Owner maintains the Product Backlog (which is the repository for all of this information) as per the requirement of the scrum team.

2. Sets the schedule for releasing completed work to clients

3. Takes the final call as to whether implementations have the features and quality required for release

Development Team

The team involves members who collectively come up with a “Done” product at the end of each sprint. The team members are usually empowered to organize and manage their own work and hence need to be goal-oriented. 

The teams are cross-functional so as they bring out the best among each other and have an all round perspective while developing solutions.

The essential roles that a Development team has are:

1. They have the authority to make decisions about how to perform the work

2. The team decide how to break work into tasks

3. They allocate tasks to individuals, throughout the Sprint

Another essential aspect of a development team is the size of the team. Optimal team size is needed to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint. A larger number makes communication difficult, while a smaller number leads to low productivity and fragility.

Scrum Master

A Scrum master is typically a keeper of the process. i.e. they help the team integrate into the Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. They are the mentors who to the other team members and keep a close eye as to the overall project progress.

The essential roles that a Scrum Master has are:

1. Encourages interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

2. Improve the productivity of the Development Team

3. maintain a constant awareness of the status of the project 

4. Resolve any roadblocks that hold back progress

The Scrum Master does not interfere in the work of the development team, however, they ensure that the team is empowered and is goal-oriented.

Scrum Events

All activities in the scrum process are divided into smaller tasks. These tasks are all time-bound and these are called “Sprint”; each team member has specific tasks assigned across each sprint. At the end of each Sprint, the result is a “Done” project that can be shared with the Project owner and client for review. A new sprint only stars after an existing sprint ends.

The tasks that are done each sprint can be categories as follows:-

1. Sprint Planning: here the objectives are set and tasks assigned to team members

2. Daily Scrum: these are  short update meeting among team members each day to share progress

3. Development Work: this refer to the task assigned to each of the Development team members

4. Sprint Review: this review happens mainly at the end of a sprint. Here mainly the changes as per clients’ requirements are checked from the last update.

5. Sprint Retrospective: Happens at the end of a sprint among team members to plan improvements for the next sprint.

Scrum Artifacts

In the scrum process, documentation plays a very vital role. They provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation during the scrum process. They are needed to ensure harmony among the members of the Scrum Team. 

1. Product Backlog

It is an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. It is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product. The Product Owner is responsible for the complete Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.

A product backlog is a dynamic document that changes as the development of the product continues. It starts from the initial requirement gathering and but evolves over time as the requirement evolves over the development process. The changes are done by the Product owner with discussions and consultation of the Development team. 

2.Sprint Backlog

A sprint backlog is a sub-set of the product backlog. It contains the list of actions for a particular sprint along with the plan of delivery of the sprint goal. Hence it is the account of the work to be done by the Development team during a particular sprint. The Development team is responsible for maintaining the sprint document and makes the changes needed during the complete sprint.  

The Sprint Backlog is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Development Team plans to accomplish during the Sprint, and it belongs solely to the Development Team.

Benefits of using SCRUM

1. To Clients

vendor is more responsive to development requests

High-value features are developed and delivered more quickly with short cycles

2. To Scrum Master

Daily planning and tracking 

Good idea of project status

Able to recognize and address issues faster

3. To Project Owner

Development work aligned to customer needs

Frequent opportunities to re-prioritize work

Maximum delivery value

4. To Development Teams

Opportunity to own work

Get more value for the work done

Reduces non-productive work

The Agile project management tools have changed the way project management is done. It has greatly increased flexibility, interactions, and involvement of all stakeholders during the development process.  However, as any other tool, the Agile framework has also experienced its share of challenges. Mainly in the scaling of the tool in large organizations and multi geographical teams.

In the end, however, the impact of the Agile framework depends on the mind-set of all team members. Teams where there is a learning environment, Clear goal alignment & Trusting atmosphere.

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