Scrum: 6 steps to be Agile

Greatness can’t be imposed; it has to come from within. But it does live within all of us – Jeff Sutherland

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Scrum is an Agile framework used by teams to manage product development. Scrum is iterative by nature and commonly used by software developers. However, it can be used for any type of work with a fixed deadline. Scrum was originally developed to help adapt products as customers change their minds about what they want. This can happen at any stage in the development cycle and can generate a lot of rework.
 
Scrum is best suited to teams who develop products that are likely to need multiple revisions and diverge from the original idea.

What are the 6 steps to Scrum?

  1. Select the team
  2. First, you need to select your team members. Scrum teams consist of 3 roles:
    * The Product Owner – The Product Owner is the spokesperson for your customer who will share the vision and priorities with your team.
     
    * Scrum Master – The Scrum Master is not a manager, but a facilitator between the Product Owner and Development Team.
     
    * Development Team – The Development Team develop the product in increments. The Development Team are self-organized, as opposed to many teams that use a more traditional hierarchical system.

  3. Plan the sprint
  4. Once you have your selected your Scrum team members, it is time to start planning the sprint. A Scrum sprint is a time-boxed iteration in which to develop the product. The optimum length of a sprint is typically 2-4 weeks but can be as little as 1 week. Your sprint planning should begin with the Product Owner creating a product backlog. A product backlog is a broad list of items that need to be completed by the Development Team. Each task is assigned a priority. The highest priority items (user stories) can then be presented to your Development Team, who can decide what they can complete within the timeframe of the sprint. After breaking down the user stories into tasks and estimating the required effort, the Development Team should move their tasks into a sprint backlog.

  5. Start the sprint
  6. Now that you have your plan for the sprint, it is time to start completing the work. During a sprint cycle, the Development Team works through the user stories from the sprint backlog. Daily team meetings should be held to share progress, plans and highlight any issues. These meetings are to be kept within 15 minutes and overseen by the Scrum Master who should keep everyone focused. Progress must be tracked continuously during the sprint. This can be done with the use of a burndown chart. During the sprint, your Development Team must prepare the product increment for review. They need to make sure that the increment is potentially shippable, as no incomplete work can be shown at a sprint review.




  7. Review the sprint
  8. At the end of every sprint, a sprint review must be held. This gives the Development Team the opportunity to demonstrate the finished product increment to the Product Owner and customer. Everyone should be encouraged to share their feedback, suggestions and new ideas. It is at this point that the customer can change their mind about what they want.

  9. Evaluate the sprint
  10. At the end of every sprint, you should also hold a sprint retrospective. During a sprint retrospective, the whole team evaluates the sprint. They should ask each other what went well this time and highlight any improvements that need to made for the following sprint.

  11. Deliver the product increment
  12. The next step is to deliver the product increment. The product increment is the output of all the user stories completed during the sprint and previous sprints. It must be in a good working condition, whether the Product Owner decides to release it or not.

Interim delivery

When the customer receives the product increment, they will test it and decide whether it is complete. If it is incomplete, the Development Team should prepare for another sprint to add more features to the increment. They need to delve back into the product backlog and pick another set of high priority user stories. The sprint cycles should then continue until all user stories are complete to the Product Owner’s satisfaction.

Final delivery

Completing the product will take you several sprint cycles. Once the Product Owner is satisfied with the product increment, it is ready for final delivery to your customer.
 
This should give you a simple overview of how Scrum works. To see how Scrum works in more detail, take a look at the graphic below. You can also download a large-scale poster version to print for your office!
Scrum
 

Simon Buehring
Simon Buehring is the founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train, an accredited PRINCE2 training organization based in London, UK. For over 25 years, Simon has worked as a project manager for a wide range of organizations, both in the UK and internationally, including the BBC, HSBC and IBM.

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