Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an agile approach to product development that is centered around brief, informal stand-up meetings.

The term "scrum" originated in the game of rugby. A rugby scrum is a way of resuming a game that has paused due to an accidental foul or the ball having gone out of play. Opposing players engage head-to-head and compete for possession of the ball, which is thrown into the fray.

A "media scrum" is an impromptu press conference in which the media gather around a political figure and bombard her with questions.

Thus "scrum" has come to refer more generally to a short, informal gathering.

In the Scrum approach to product development, scrums are frequent (often daily) stand-up meetings in which each member of the product team states his immediate goal and any risks or obstacles he is facing. The scrums typically start at precisely the same time every day and are often time-boxed to 15-20 minutes.

Other Scrum practices include:
  • Iterations ("sprints") with a maximum duration of thirty days.
  • No changes during a sprint to the planned set of deliverables within it.
  • Demo to external stakeholders at the end of each iteration.
  • On-going measurement of progress and re-estimation of remaining scope.
Roles in Scrum include:
  • Product owner is the voice of the customer and determines and prioritizes what will go in the product.
  • Scrum master facilitates the planning, sprint, and meeting processes. The emphasis is on removing obstacles rather than dictating how individuals achieve goals.
  • Team is composed of the designers, developers, and testers that build the product.
  • Users sometimes attend meetings and give feedback on demos.
  • Stakeholders are not users but may be buyers or vendors.
  • Managers set up the environment for the team.
Artifacts in Scrum include:
  • Product backlog is a prioritized list of requirements or features planned for the product.
  • Sprint backlog is a prioritized, detailed list of requirements, features, or tasks planned for a sprint.
  • Burn down chart depicts the number of backlog items (or the estimated task hours) remaining in a sprint or for the product as a whole.
Executives and product managers are concerned mostly with product backlogs and high-level visibility into the team's progress.

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