We started this series on the Scrum methodology with an introduction (LINK), followed by two pieces on two of the most important roles in the Scrum framework (the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, LINKS), and an article on the framework itself and why it's called a framework for Agile working (LINK). After that, we focused on the ceremonies or events around which a Scrum-based project tends to revolve.
When it comes to Scrum, a project consists of Sprints and Sprints are built up of events. The role which each of these events plays and the way in which they take place can differ considerably based on factors like the the product that is being developed, the experience of the people involved in the project, and the preferences of the team members themselves. In general though, in a traditional Scrum project, a Sprint contains at least four major events, namely Scrum planning (also known as Sprint planning, LINK), the Daily Scrum (LINK), the Sprint Review (LINK), and the Sprint Retrospective (LINK).
Besides the roles and the events that are relevant to Scrum-based projects, the so-called artefacts also represent a key element of the Scrum framework. Usually, there are three artefacts that present in every Scrum team, namely a Product Backlog, a Sprint Backlog, and a type of backlog that defines a “finished” part for you. An artefact in a Scrum environment is a type of tool that teams can use to solve complex problems together. Considering the particular role and importance of the Product Backlog to the correct functioning of a Scrum team, we also dedicated a separate piece to this artefact (LINK).
As you probably know by now, Scrum is an agile methodology to help plan, manage, and optimise product development cycles by cutting them up in a series of fixed-length iterations. As we wrote before, both earlier in this article and in separate articles in this Scrum series (LINKS), a Scrum production cycle or Sprint consists of at least four main events: Sprint planning, Daily Scrums, the Sprints themselves, and Sprint Retrospectives. In our series, we have also covered the Sprint Reviews, which take place after the Sprint ends and before the Sprint Retrospective is held. In order to help Scrum teams perform these events with ease and to chase the highest possible product value for the end customer in the most efficient manner possible, Scrum teams can make use of several sets of tools that were especially designed for use in Agile projects. Our previous four articles were on a few different Scrum and Agile tools, namely Scrum Boards (LINK), Kanban Boards (LINK), burndown charts (LINK), and Scrum poker (LINK).
Seeing as practice makes perfect, we then dedicated an article to Scrum training and the many different providers of certification (LINK), and we have now come to the final piece of this 17-part series on the Scrum methodology. In this seventeenth instalment, we will take a look back at the Scrum guide we have created over the past months and we will also explore a few of the most frequently used and recommended Scrum guides available on the market right now. Like this, and regardless of whether you are a beginning Scrum enthusiast or an experienced Scrum expert, we hope that you can form a good idea of the Scrum methodology and its many elements and interpretations.
On this guide
As we wrote before, this final part of our Scrum series functions as a kind of wrapping paper around the complete guide. It brings together the various topics we have studied, from the very introduction of the Scrum framework to an overview of some of the most effective Scrum tools, and closes with introductions to various other Scrum guides that are available at the moment and regarded as excellent sources of knowledge in regard to the Scrum method. First though, we are briefly going over the contents of this Scrum guide.
Scrum series: Roles
After introducing the Scrum framework and placing it within the context of Agile working, we started off our series with studying a few of the most important roles within a standard Scrum team, namely the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. In a Scrum-based project, the Scrum Master takes the lead on everything that is related to the Scrum nature of the project. At the end of the day, the most important thing he or she needs to do, is to promote and support the Scrum method constantly in order for all parties involved to understand the framework's values, rules, practices, and theories. It's his or her duty to align the skills and talents of all parties related to the project, both inside and outside the Scrum team, in order to maximize the value created by that same team.
One of the most important relationships for the Scrum Master is the one with the Product Owner. That's because the Product Owner is in charge of the project's backbone, the Product Backlog, and the Scrum Master supports him or her in this task. Much of the project information for the development team comes from the state and updates of the Product Backlog, so for an efficient workflow, it's essential that this list is maintained meticulously. Only by making the management and interaction with the Product Backlog as efficient as possible can a Scrum Master work towards the maximisation of value.
In many Scrum guides, the Development Team is mentioned as a third key role on a Scrum team. The developers are, of course, crucial to the success of a project, but we have not included them as a specific role in this Scrum guide. We have stuck with the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, but elaborating on the Development Team is definitely not a waste of time and we recommend you look for this information in other Scrum guides as well.
Scrum series: Events
We followed the identification of the key roles on a Scrum team with an overview of the main events that take place during a Scrum-based project and the way in which a Sprint is built up. In this part of our Scrum guide, which consists of four chapters, we looked at Sprint planning, the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.
In chronological order, the Scrum planning is the first event a Scrum team needs to organise. Scrum or Sprint planning is based on the Product Backlog as presented by the Product Owner and revolves around the development team picking items from this Backlog on which they will work during the next Sprint. These meetings are usually also used to discuss the approach to each item in the Product Backlog and many teams prefer to set a Sprint goal at this point as well.
The Daily Scrum, which is also known as the Daily Meeting or the Daily Standup, is a type of meeting that takes place once every day. A Daily Scrum usually takes place at the start of a working day and should typically not take more than 15 minutes. The development team uses this opportunity to synchronize all of the activities and to make a planning for the next 24 hours. It's also a chance for the team to briefly inspect the past Sprint and to evaluate the collaboration between the members of the team. Daily Scrums are time-boxed in order to avoid that the team spends more time on discussing what they are going to do than on actually doing it.
The Scrum Review, which is also called the Sprint Review sometimes, takes place at the end of a Sprint and serves to inspect the increment that has resulted from the Sprint, and to manage the Product Backlog accordingly, if needed. Literally, during these meetings, the last Sprint is reviewed by the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, the development team, and any other potential stakeholders. It's an informal kind of meeting aimed at identifying where processes can be further optimised and how more value can be created during the next Sprint.
Finally, the Scrum Retrospective represents the final event of a Sprint in a Scrum-based project. A Scrum Retrospective usually takes place after the Sprint Review and provides a look back on the Sprint that has just been finished. The goal of this meeting is to find out which tasks or activities went well for the team, which tasks and activities should be continued, and in what ways the next Sprint can be improved. Scrum Retrospectives are basically improvement meetings that help the identification of pitfalls and past mistakes during the development process, in order to be able to better address and avoid them in the future.
Scrum series: Artefacts
After looking at some of the main events with which Scrum teams are face regularly, we moved on to the Scrum artefacts. These artefacts represent a key element of the Scrum framework and usually, there are three artefacts present in every Scrum team, namely a Product Backlog, a Sprint Backlog, and a type of backlog that defines a “finished” part for the team. An artefact in a Scrum environment is a type of tool that teams can use to solve complex problems together.
In our Scrum guide, we elaborated on the Product Backlog only, as it provides the foundation for much of the processes that are essential to running a successful Scrum-based project, which is why it's so important for this element to be clear and unambiguous. To put it very simply, the Product Backlog is a kind of ultimate to-do list for Scrum teams. As we wrote earlier in this Scrum guide, you can compare a healthy Product Backlog to a healthy person: it is organised, groomed, and living in the open.
Other, more extensive Scrum guides might cover the Sprint Backlog and the third backlog as well. The former 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. The latter is based on the definition of “Done”. This is what guides the development team and provides transparency about the level of quality that is considered sufficient to release an increment of the project.
Scrum series: Tools
In order to help Scrum teams chase the highest possible product value for the end customer in the most efficient manner possible, they can make use of several sets of tools that were especially designed for use in Agile projects. These tools can mean a world of difference to a team, especially when one or more of the team members work remotely. In this Scrum guide, we covered four tools that are used and recommended by Scrum rookies and experts around the world alike: Scrum Boards, Kanban Boards, burndown charts, and Scrum poker.
The first tool we reviewed for this Scrum guide was the Scrum Board, which is an easy-to-interpret visual display of the project in question and its progress, either in virtual or physical format. As you know, Scrum is an approach to project management and Scrum-based projects consist of the previously mentioned Sprints, which in turn are built up of events or ceremonies. A Scrum Board is literally a physical or virtual board that is used to visualize all of the work that needs to be done in a given Sprint. The features of a Scrum Board keep track of the work that is being tackled in each Sprint, so the development team can stay focused on the tasks at hand, instead of worrying about planning and project structure. It basically is a modern kind of whiteboard.
Besides Scrum Boards, we also studied Kanban Boards. These are practical tools that can be used to manage complex projects in simpler and clearer ways, very much like Scrum Boards. A Kanban Board is an agile project management tool that can help to visualize work, limit the number of items labelled as work in progress, and maximise the efficiency of the team working on the project in question. By using cards, columns, and continuous evaluation, Kanban Boards can help development teams to optimise their efficiency and output. Many of its characteristics are very similar to a Scrum Board and the decision between the two tools will often depend on a Scrum team's own preferences.
After the two Boards, we dedicated an article to so-called burndown charts, which are graphical representations of the work left to do on a project or Sprint versus the time there is left to do that work. It is used to measure how much work has been completed on a project during a specific time frame, which is then compared to the amount of time still available to complete the project. Such a chart helps to outline the amount of work planned versus what is performed during each Sprint. The burndown chart is a very popular tool amongst Scrum teams, because it is an efficient, simple visual representation of a Scrum team's working speed and efficiency.
The fourth and final tool we discussed in this Scrum guide is Scrum poker, which differs considerably from the other tools we have covered in this series, in the sense that it is more of a technique than it is a tool. Scrum poker (which is often referred to as planning poker as well) is actually a gamified technique based on consensus that is used for making estimates and that makes use of a deck of cards and just a few simple rules. When relating this to Scrum and (software) development projects specifically, this technique is mostly used to estimate effort or relative size of development goals.
Scrum series: Training
The instalment of this Scrum guide that was written before this seventeenth and final part was dedicated to the topic of Scrum Training. The Scrum methodology is not necessarily complex, but a correct implementation of the theory does require a considerable amount of discipline, experience, and, of course, training. Specific Scrum training and certification refers to courses and exams that provide instructions and certify aptitude in Scrum, one of the commonly used Agile frameworks for managing complex projects. Many different companies provide Scrum training and certification programs, both online and offline, with some being more widely recognized and accepted in the world Agile. Our article this topic also contains a brief overview of some of the most well-known and well-reputed providers of Scrum training around the world.
Other recommended guides available on the market right now
Of course, our series of articles is not the only Scrum guide on the market, far from it. The growing popularity of the Scrum methodology over the past decades has also led to an increasing number of people who want to learn more about Scrum and the ways in which it can benefit them. As a result, many organisations and individuals started creating Scrum guides and other types of helpful documents. In order to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we are closing this article, and thus this entire Scrum guide, with a list containing some of the most widely recognised Scrum guides and books available on the market right now.
The Scrum guide
This Scrum guide (the complete name of which is The Scrum guide, The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game) is also referred to as the Mother of all Scrum guides, because, it was developed and sustained by the founders of Scrum, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. The Scrum guide is maintained independently of any company or vendor and therefore lives on a brand neutral site. The book contains the definition of Scrum, including roles, events, artefacts, and the rules that bind them together, and it is available in more than 30 different languages.
Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process
This Scrum guide is especially good for people looking for a comprehensive and easy-to-understand explanation of the fundamentals of the Scrum methodology. It was written by Mike Cohn, one of the contributors to the Scrum software development method, one of the founders of the Scrum Alliance, and founder of Mountain Goat software, and Ron Jeffries, one of the three founders of the Extreme Programming (XP) software development methodology around the year 1996. The book puts the Scrum Master role into context by explaining the other team roles. There is also extensive coverage on the Scrum approach to planning and Sprints. If you want to find out how to apply Scrum and Agile methods when you face the challenge of managing technical debt, this Scrum guide comes highly recommended.
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
One thing is learning about Scrum and how it works, but it is a whole other thing to have to promote the Scrum methodology in your company. How do you pitch the Agile mindset to management in the organisation? How do you get inexperienced development teams on board? This book addresses Scrum from a management point of view and shows its value. It provides plenty of inspiration to help lead Scrum teams, as well as a few refreshers on some fundamental principles of the framework, like the 80/20 rule. This Scrum guide is not as technically detailed in terms of application and processes as some of the other guides are, but Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland manages to explain very well how Scrum can be sold to managers and teams through inspiration and productivity improvement.
We have included the Scrum guide by Visual Paradigm as well, not so much because it is one of the best ones out there (though it really is quite good), but because it differs considerably from the other Scrum guides and books in this list in terms of format and availability. That is because the extensive Visual Paradigm Scrum guide is available online and entirely for free. It covers a very wide range of topics in a logical order, from an overview of the fundamental principles of Scrum to explanations of the different elements of the framework. Visual Paradigm is a leading and globally recognized provider of Business and IT Transformation software solutions. It enables organizations to improve business and IT agility and foster innovation through popular open standards, and this Scrum guide is one of their "best-sellers".