What is Scrum?

Scrum is one of the most well-known frameworks for agile project management worldwide. Complex, varied tasks are completed within it productively, creatively and in such a way as to provide maximum value, within predefined time frames. Defined roles within a Scrum Team, and events as well as artifacts, are, for that purpose, put together to form a powerful framework.

Scrum was developed in the 1990s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, and has, since then, been enhanced continually. The name originates from rugby: An analogy to the corresponding formation Scrum (meaning scrimmage) was once drawn by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in an article, in order to highlight the high degree of efficiency of cross-functional teams. Scrum was originally used in agile software development, however quickly and successfully spread to all sorts of project areas.

Manageable and proceeding in small steps: combating intimidating project situations

Large projects often take a lot of time, and it is not all that rare that, at the end of excessively long development work, you end up with a finished product which, to a certain extent, fulfills the requirements – however, without any real value in it. This can happen due to the parameters of the market having meanwhile changed significantly, or due to the Principal and developers having entirely failed to understand one another and make themselves understood when communicating with one another. Experienced project managers will remember such scenarios from a variety of other angles. Scrum, however, offers a way out of the maze of intimidating project situations, since it pursues an iterative approach, implemented in small steps, where all those involved cooperate closely.

This is because, using the Scrum method, all decisions are taken based on experience. Consequently, the framework is based on three pillars: transparency, review and adaptation. The product is developed, and potentially delivered, by taking small steps, which are known as increments. The project progress is made transparent to all parties involved on fixed dates (known as events, also cf. stages), reviewed, and – if necessary – adapted. Both the requirements of the product and its individual components, as well as the entire process, can be improved at any time within the scope of these events. Thus, the value loss trap outlined above is suitably avoided. A product with genuine benefits is the outcome.

You have an ace up your sleeve – it is called teamwork: the Scrum Team

At the heart of Scrum is the Scrum Team, which consists of professionals from all IT sectors required for the project, viz. the developers. In addition, a Scrum Master and a Product Owner form part of the team.

The Product Owner is primarily responsible for prioritizing the work scheduled, and maximizing the value of it. Based on the Product Owner’s specifications, the developers complete the tasks independently. The developers working out the route to task completion themselves is an essential part of the Scrum way. The Product Owner does not comment on how, exactly, individual tasks need to be completed. The entire Team is supported, in its work, by the Scrum Master. As a Servant Leader, he or she ensures a smooth workflow, removes any obstacles, and is there to assist everyone involved.

Due to the close cooperation, it is at all times clear to each member of the Scrum Team what the Team is working on – and, in particular, why. The outcome: finished products with genuine added value are created in a short amount of time.

Would you like to find out more about being a Scrum Master or Product Owner? Then have a look at the various roles in Scrum in our Overview.