What is Scrum?
Scrum – a flexible framework for complex projects and developments
Because many development projects are too complex to plan accurately at the beginning of the project, many companies are trying to use a flexible and adaptable framework that allows them to better respond to changing requirements and priorities, add value to customers faster and minimise risks. Scrum is such a framework. Originally designed for software development¹, it has been used for many years in project management and product development across a range of sectors and industries.
- is based on empiricism (knowledge arises from experience and decisions are made on the basis of observations) and
- Lean Thinking (waste is avoided and the focus is on the essential) and is incremental and iterative.
- And it is incremental and iterative.
In short, Scrum is considered a good tool for developing and maintaining complex products and services.
How does Scrum work?
The framework and its “rules of the game” are defined in the Scrum Guide. In its current version, published in November 2020, the guide lists
- five events,
- three accountabilities and
- three artefacts.
The events include
The heart of the framework is the so-called Sprint. It includes all other events. It is an iteration of constant duration with similar actions.
Sprint Planning is the first event within the sprint. In Planning, it is determined “why” the current Sprint has a value, “what” is transferred from the Product Backlog to the Sprint Backlog and “how” it is realised. For each Sprint, the participants agree on a concrete Sprint Goal.
The Daily Scrum is a daily event for synchronisation, to check progress and, if necessary, to agree on adjustments. The Sprint Review is a meeting at the end of a sprint to present the development results and determine future adjustments. And the retrospective is a meeting to reflect on processes and procedures, tools, skills, relationships, teamwork, general and specific challenges and experiences.
Three accountabilities are defined:
In Scrum, the team – equipped with the required competences – organises itself within fixed periods of time – the timeboxes – committing to deliver finished functionality regularly and as early as possible.
Instead of roles, the guide speaks of so-called accountabilities.² The idea behind this is that every person who actively participates in a development or a project takes responsibility for specific areas, the implementation of tasks, the adherence to commitments, the culture of cooperation and the results! And since this takes place in close cooperation, Scrum as a name also makes sense; the term comes from the sport of rugby and describes a situation in which a phase of the game is restarted on command.
In addition to the events and accountabilities, there are three artefacts:
The artefacts represent tasks or items and their realisation.
A Product Backlog contains elements with which a Product Goal defined by the Product Owner is achieved. The Sprint Backlog is the plan for the current Sprint and contains all Product Backlog items that are selected by the Developers for the current Sprint and implemented in the Sprint. The aim is to create an Increment on the way to the Product Goal that delivers a value, is functional and potentially deliverable, and thus corresponds to an agreed Definition of Done.
And so the sequence of events, the interaction of accountabilities and the work with the Artefacts starts all over again. The end of a Sprint marks the beginning of the next Sprint.
Advantages of Scrum
Because predictions and the creation of realistic plans are often difficult when developing software and systems, Scrum turns the approach around: knowledge comes from experience and experience comes from the course of a development. In combination with the iterative approach, the commitment of the team to the sprint goal and the early detection of obstacles (the so-called impediments), the predictability increases and the development risk decreases.
In summary, Scrum offers the following advantages:
- Simple set of roles, activities and artefacts; easy to understand and use.
- High flexibility in working, yet clear rules and principles.
- Concentrated communication between the accountabilities.
- Short feedback cycles.
- Integration of stakeholders easily possible, e.g. in the Sprint Review or in the run-up to Sprint Planning.
- Transparency of work steps and intermediate results.
- The ability to identify and correct deviations.
- The ability to adjust the existing process in the current project.
Scrum in practice
How does Scrum work in practice? You can find some answers and perspectives here:
- What needs to be considered during implementation and use?
- What values does Scrum define?
- Why does the application fail in organisations?
- How does the pace change in organisations?
- What influence do principles have on agile working?
- How does team building work in Scrum?
- Is a Scrumbut good or bad?
- What is Personal Scrum?
We are sure you can think of more questions. Please contact us and we will try to answer your questions or publish corresponding articles.
Impulse to discuss:
Do you think the Scrum Guide defines too many or too few rules? And what would be the advantage if it defined more or less?
 the framework was first introduced in 1995 at the OOPSLA conference in Austin, Texas by Jeffrey Victor “Jeff” Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. However, Scrum as a term was mentioned as early as 1986 in a paper by Ikujirō Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi; the two recognised that in the development of complex products, the best results are achieved when small, self-organised teams set themselves goals.
 Here you can find more information on the topic of accountability versus role. If you read the term Scrum role in publications, then you know that it must be a somewhat older text, because since November 2020 it is no longer used in the description of the framework.
Here you will find information on the agile manifesto. It describes a code of conduct to reflect the actions of a development and align them with defined principles. Based on this, Scrum provides a framework for organising and completing work collaboratively.
The SCRUM method is written about in numerous publications, but it is neither an acronym nor a method. It is a framework that names events, responsibilities and artefacts, but does not describe, for example, how a product, software or service is to be developed.
Are you interested in German podcasts about the framework? Please check out Scrum meistern.
And here you will find additional information from our Smartpedia section: