What is the scrum methodology for project management?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A clear project management methodology is vital for making sure a project runs successfully. The scrum methodology is a type of agile project management that's frequently used for developing software but is also used across a range of different industries. Thoroughly understanding the Scrum model can help you to decide if it's an appropriate project management approach for your project. In this article, we explain more about the scrum methodology and how it works.

What is the Scrum methodology?

The Scrum methodology is a flexible agile project management methodology that delivers results quickly. It's focused on communication, collaboration, collective responsibility and continual progress. Whilst the methodology is primarily associated with software development, a range of other industries now also use it, such as sales and marketing. Teams complete projects by dedicating short periods, known as sprints, towards achieving specific objectives. Each phase has to be complete before the next one can begin.

The Scrum model is highly collaborative. Teams focus on collective goals rather than individual tasks. It places emphasis on agility as a way to achieve good quality results. Scrum project management begins with a general idea of the project's requirements. The team then develop this further by creating a list of features that the client requires in the order of priority.

Why do project managers use the Scrum model?

Project managers use the Scrum model because it helps to increase sustainability for organisations. This methodology relies on collaboration and regular feedback, which helps to develop competitive, high-quality products. This can give organisations an advantage over their competitors. It also helps to streamline the collaboration between the development teams and the client by using clearly defined communication channels. The Scrum model also allows the team to rapidly plan and implement changes and adjustments, which can be beneficial if the client changes their requirements.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

What are the benefits of using Scrum?

There are multiple benefits to using the Scrum approach. Some of the main benefits of using the Scrum model include:

  • Greater flexibility: Involving the whole team means it's easier to adjust or fix elements of the project and integrate new elements.

  • Improved quality: The methodology aims to create high-quality products. This is possible because the entire team has input and there needs to be a functional version of the product after every iteration.

  • More control: By requesting regular feedback from the client the team have more control to ensure the product meets the client's specifications.

  • Faster results: Tasks get prioritised by importance and all team members understand their responsibilities. This allows them to deliver a usable product in a shorter period of time.

  • Improved morale: Team members feel involved and feel that project managers listen to them, which can help to boost morale.

  • Easier to estimate timeframes: Being time-limited, it's easy to calculate the speed a team works at and therefore when an element that still requires work is going to be finished.

  • Reduces risks: Completing the highest priorities first and knowing how quickly the team works makes it easier to forecast and reduce risk.

Principles of Scrum model

The Scrum model has six guiding principles. These principles include:

  • Control over the process: This requires transparency, communication, regular evaluation and adaptation.

  • Self-organisation: Team members work independently and understand their responsibilities. They're also responsible for assessing their own performance.

  • Collaboration: Teams are clear and aware and have centralised distribution for every release.

  • Value-based prioritisation: Prioritisation goes on value and benefit to the customer. This helps to determine which tasks are most essential.

  • Time-boxing: This sets out a schedule for tasks, including meetings.

  • Iterative development: This is the adjustment of the project throughout different iterations to deliver a high-quality result.

Related: What does collaboration mean in the workplace?

Scrum management team

The Scrum model has a distinctive structure. There are three distinct roles within this:

Scrum master

The Scrum master is the person who is responsible for leading and managing the project. Scrum masters use agile management techniques to ensure the project is successfully executed. They're responsible for making decisions about implementing the project, resolving issues that might delay the project's development and providing the resources that the team requires to complete their work. These resources might change as the project progresses. As such, a Scrum master requires a thorough understanding of the Scrum model and the tools used within it. They usually have Scrum master certifications.

Related: How to get Scrum master certifications (plus career info)

Development team

The development team works closely with the Scrum master to complete the project. A development team typically consists of developers, designers and programmers who turn ideas for products into usable solutions. Most development teams are interdisciplinary, including members with different backgrounds and experiences working together on a common goal.

Product owner

The product owner is responsible for overseeing both the Scrum master and the development team. Most of the time the product owner is a product expert, which gives them the right experience to oversee the project. They represent the client and any other stakeholders. They're responsible for managing elements like the backlog, which lists new features and any necessary changes.

What elements does the Scrum model include?

The Scrum model comprises several different elements. Daily meetings are a key feature of this methodology. During meetings, data is shared using task boards and other methods for presenting and communicating information. In daily Scrum meetings, team members can share their achievements and any difficulties or obstacles to overcome. These meetings are also an opportunity to discuss the cost of the project. A rundown of each element is available below:

Sprint

Sprints are an essential component of the Scrum model. They're time-limited iterations of processes intended to achieve a specific goal. Sprints typically last for two weeks but, depending on the nature of the project, can sometimes last for four weeks or more. Sprints include a variety of elements, such as:

  • A planning meeting: Every sprint begins with a planning meeting on the first day for the team to discuss their needs and plan ahead.

  • Tracking progress: After planning, the team tracks its progress using brief meetings that usually last around 15 minutes. During these meetings, team members share the progress they've made and their plans for the day.

  • Sprint reviews: Sprint reviews help to gain feedback from all stakeholders. This involves collaboration between team members, the product owner, Scrum master and the implementation team.

  • Sprint retrospective: This is a review of the entire sprint once it's finished that involves noting what went well and what the team could improve in future sprints. Sprint retrospectives help to implement improvements across the entire process.

  • Release planning: Release planning is a discussion about when the project is going to be complete and what the cost of this is. During release planning, the product owners explain which features the team is to work on and in what order they're to work on them.

Related: How to write meeting notes: essential steps

Release plan

A release plan is one of the elements in a sprint. Release plans consider the overall quality, time schedule and limitations of a project. There are a variety of formats that a release plan can take, including:

  • Feature-driven: Determining the number of sprints that the team requires to complete the entire project or a certain set of features.

  • Time-drive: Determining the number of features that the team needs to complete by a specific deadline.

  • Cost-driven: Determining the features the team can complete within a certain budget and deciding a schedule for these.

  • Retrospective: A review meeting to reflect on the project at the end of each sprint.

The Scrum model tools

The Scrum model uses a number of different tools. These tools help to execute the project successfully and ensure transparency and clear communication. Tools that are commonly used in the Scrum model include:

  • Product backlog: The product backlog lists all of the features that the client requires in the order of priority. The product owner prepares the product backlog.

  • Sprint backlog: This is a sub-set of the product backlog that lists the features the team is working on during a particular sprint and the duration of the sprint. The sprint backlog is usually in a prominent area so that all team members can refer to it.

  • Increment: This is all of the tasks, product backlogs and any other features or elements that the team develop as part of a sprint. The increment works as an overall summary of the activities during a sprint.

Related:

  • Different types of project management methodologies


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