What Is Scrum Project Management? A Definitive Guide

By Tegan Griffiths

Updated October 5, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated October 5, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

Tegan Griffiths is a technical writer with a passion for everything from artificial learning to machine learning. Tegan currently writes content for an association magazine in the tech business.

Scrum project management is an ideal methodology for teams that want to collaborate closely and finish projects in multiple small steps. A subset of agile project management, scrum is becoming a popular method for creating high-quality products in many different industries. Learning about the fundamentals of scrum can help you determine if it could be a good method for your team. In this article, we define scrum, explain why it's used, describe how it works, list the principles and review some of its benefits.

What is the scrum project management methodology?

Scrum project management is the maintenance, development and sustaining of products in timed and complex environments. Scrum project management is most common in software development. However, sales, marketing and other industries have also begun adopting this method. It emphasizes agility as a critical process for achieving high-quality products.

The scrum project management concept relies on the fact that software execution is sequential through iterations known as sprints. Sprints are short time periods allocated to every team to accomplish its set objectives. With scrum, a team sets collective goals rather than focusing on individual tasks. Agile development follows certain principles and values, such as collaboration, continuous improvement, high-quality results and flexibility.

Related: What Is a Scrum Meeting? Types and Tips

Why is scrum used?

Organizations use scrum project management to boost their market sustainability. It's important for companies to optimize their products before their competitors take the opportunity. Scrum relies on collaborative decision-making and frequent feedback to deliver higher-quality products. Getting your clients' and team members' opinions can help you continually improve your products to remain competitive. Scrum project management focuses on practicability through experimental procedures to implement, plan and react to change efficiently and rapidly.

Scrum helps streamline the collaboration between customers and the teams involved in the design of the software. It uses well-defined communication channels to deliver information between different teams. This means that one process cannot proceed before you finish the previous phase of the project. Some of these communication elements include frequent feedback cycles, collaborative meetings and time-boxes and a prioritized product backlog.

Related: What Is a Scrum Team? Definition, Benefits and Roles

How does scrum project management work?

Scrum uses a series of meetings to complete each project step. These meetings allow information dissemination using task boards and other data presentation techniques. The task board allows the team to track the tasks' progress for each feature, including completed, ongoing and planned activities. In these daily scrum meetings, team members discuss the achievements and obstacles encountered. The team also provides an estimation of the cost. Here are some of the major components of scrum:

Scrum management team

The framework has three distinct roles:

Scrum master

These professionals perform two specific functions: leading and managing the project. Scrum masters ensure the successful execution of software development using agile management techniques. They make decisions related to project implementation, resolve any distractions that may delay the development process and provide the necessary resources to the development team to meet deadlines. Scrum masters deliver product updates by implementing new ideas and suggestions.

Development team

This group works closely with the scrum master to complete most of the project. The development team often comprises professional developers, designers and or programmers who actualize the ideas for different products. The team is usually cross-functional, often comprising members with different backgrounds working toward the same objectives.

Product owner

The product owner's function is to oversee both the scrum master and the development team. The product owner, on most occasions, is the product expert. Product owners represent the customer and the stakeholders. They're responsible for handling production elements, such as backlogs. A product backlog is a document listing the new features and changes to existing product parts.

Related: What Is a Scrum Master?

Sprint

A sprint is a time-boxed iteration, meaning it's a repetition of processes that aims to accomplish a goal that lasts for about two weeks. However, depending on the underlying circumstances, it can extend to four or more weeks. Sprint elements entail:

  • Organizing the sprint planning meeting: Every sprint has a planning meeting on the first day where the team discusses their needs.

  • Conducting tracking progress: After planning, the team tracks its progress through a daily standup or scrum of 15-minute time-boxed meetings. During the time-boxed meeting, the team members share what they accomplished the previous day and plan for the next day.

  • Having a sprint review: The sprint review aims to get feedback from all related stakeholders. It involves collaboration from the team members, project owners and the implementation team.

  • Performing a release plan: Release planning is a tool used to discuss when the project might be done and at what cost. The product owner explains the features that need completion and in which sequence.

Release plan

A good release plan considers the overall quality, schedule and constraints of a project. A typical release plan may be:

  • Feature-driven: A release plan determines the number of sprints necessary to complete a particular set of features.

  • Time-driven: Identify the number of features required to be achieved within the deadline.

  • Cost-driven: Determine a schedule and the features that can be done within a predetermined budget.

  • Retrospective: The team participates in a review meeting at the end of each sprint.

What are the principles of scrum project management?

The scrum framework follows six principles:

  1. Control over the empirical process: This demands transparency, evaluation and adaptation in the scrum methodology.

  2. Self-organization: This principle dictates an increase in the independence of the team and also assessments of their performance.

  3. Collaboration: This principle demands having awareness, clarity and centralized distribution while performing every release.

  4. Value-based prioritization: Task prioritization is based on values and benefits for the customer and firm. This helps determine essential tasks within the processes.

  5. Time-boxing: This principle identifies a schedule for different tasks, such as meetings.

  6. Iterative development: This is the adjustment and reworking of the project requirements to create the best products.

Related: Definitive Guide to Scrum Development

What are the benefits of scrum project management?

Since team members collaborate to finish one task at a time, scrum reduces the chances of duplicating work. Since different teams work collaboratively, they eliminate any constraints that might reduce the work quality. For instance, developers and other stakeholders can determine quickly if the product matches their users' needs and make the necessary change as the project progresses. Some benefits of scrum project management include:

  • More flexibility: It's easier to adjust different project elements during and after the project in scrum. With the involvement of every member in the project, it's more flexible to fix critical elements and structure new elements of the project.

  • Higher quality: The goal in scrum project management is to produce higher quality products. Scrum is a great way to motivate and acknowledge input from different team members.

  • Fast return on investment: Scrum project management prioritizes tasks by order of importance, helping the team deliver usable quality products in a shorter time frame.

  • More control: Projects are time-boxed, and all team members know their responsibilities. Since the team requests feedback from customers frequently, they can ensure they produce a product that meets their needs.

  • Better employee morale: Scrum project management boosts employee morale. It helps team members feel more involved when leaders listen to and implement their suggestions.

  • Better user satisfaction: Scrum project management allows the release of working portions of the software by testing and giving feedback to developers.

Employees can benefit from input from other members in scrum, too. For instance, pair programming, common in scrum project management, allows two programmers to work together due to increased speed and better code.

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