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Scrum – Defining the Agile Methodology and Its Benefits

Eric McConnell
September 4, 2010

Why Use Scrum in PM

Scrum PM methodTeamwork based on the concept of different parts working together as a single mechanism is valued by all companies involved in project planning and development. Scrum methodology lets support teamwork and establish a process-oriented environment, fitting the needs of separate teams, following requirements of different projects, and meeting deadlines of shared goals.

Scrum PM delivers adaptable and definable solutions to an organization that works at a demanding business environment where strategic goals are constantly changed because the power of customers’ needs has a great impact on how the organization plans and manages its internal processes and tasks.

The agile methodology allows adapting to new business conditions and meet ever-changing requirements of customers, and that is the primary task of Scrum management practice to ensure success of the agile development process considering changing requirements.

What is Scrum Methodology?

In simple terms, Scrum is an Agile methodology to project management. In the literature on Agile project management and development, Scrum methodology is often called “Scrum approach” or “Scrum method“. Personally I prefer using the term “Scrum methodology” – meanwhile any of the terms is correct and can be equally used to describe Scrum requirements and the basic concept.

If being more precise, Scrum methodology for project management refers to a team-based collaborative approach to iterative and incremental development of projects (often IT projects) to create a product during small cycles called iterations and to increase functionality of the product during each iteration by adding new properties. The method lets build a project team that includes such roles as Product Owner, Scrum Master and Scrum Team. Each of the roles has different Scrum tasks and operations to perform.

Following the given Scrum definition, Scrum methodology for managing projects allows breaking down work into chunks called “stories” so that the agile development team is able to run each story as a separate and independent project. The team can participate in each of the stories in time increments called Sprints.

In Scrum terminology, a Sprint means a time-fixed period of the agile teamwork process focused on a series of goals particular to this time period. During a sprint the team focuses only on small and short-term objectives, while strategic goals of the project are left beyond the given sprint.

For example, a team of software developers may be given a 5-day sprint to work on a specific story. This sprint may be a part of a larger story, like developing a new interface module for users. The 5-day sprint will be very simple and have short-term objectives, like correcting typos in titles. The larger story focuses on the strategic goals while the smaller sprint lets the team work on simple tasks.

The Principles

Here are the key principles of the Scrum project management approach:

  • Visibility to Business
  • Welcome changing requirements
  • Produce working software
  • Product owners and developers work together throughout the entire project life-cycle
  • Teams must follows the principles of self-organization to driver the agile Scrum development process
  • Continuous inspection and adaptation of Scrum requirements

Agile Scrum methodology for managing IT and software projects (just like Agile Extreme Programming methodology) put emphasis on the effective communication, continuous collaboration, rapid information exchange, teamwork, development of functioning software, and flexibility of working environment.

Agile training will be required for understanding all the aspects of the agile development process that is frequently unpredictable and might be complex. Learning PM tutorials and attending Agile development training courses will be required for a person who has decided to become a certified Scrum Master.

The Benefits

The agile project management methodology will deliver benefits to both sides of the development process. The client is satisfied because he/she has received what was needed and expected. The developers will benefit from better organization of the agile approach by following the customer requirements collaboratively.

If to be more specific, the benefits can be divided into the three groups, as follows below:

  • Team’s Benefits.
    • The team can follow common goal and get focused on processes.
    • Self-discipline and group-based accountability are supported – no individual responsibility, only team commitments
    • Better communication and collaboration through continuous Scrum training sessions and meetings
    • Flat structure of Scrum management – no multi-level management systems
    • Better risk management
  • Stakeholders’ Benefits.
    • Better visibility into project progress
    • Ability to participate in the processes and respond to changes
    • Ready-to-use parts of the product at the early phases of the project
    • Better evaluation of Scrum tasks and processes and demonstration of the product
  • Organization’s Benefits.
    • Business value increased
    • ROI (Return on Investment)

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