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Scrum methodology overview

Scrum is a software development strategy/framework that you can apply to all kinds of teamwork. Often seen as an agile project management framework, Scrum provides meetings, tools and roles to help a team structure and manage their work.

Why is it called ‘Scrum’?

Not surprisingly, scrum gets its name from rugby and comes from the notion that for a team to ‘win the big game’, individual members need to pull together, learn through experiences and self-organise. It also encourages reflection on how well the team produced project deliverables, and how they can keep improving. The core idea is that Scrum helps teams work together efficiently.

Why use Scrum?

There are many proven benefits of using this methodology, including high customer satisfaction as well as a high return on investment. But perhaps the most beneficial aspect of using Scrum is just how awesome it is at pulling teams together to deliver results in short, sharp bursts.

Getting to grips with Scrum jargon

As with many project tools, there are specific terms that form part of the methodology and will form an important part of Scrum training.

Scrum team: typically five to nine people, although Scrum projects can be anything from 100 people or more. The team does not include traditional software engineering roles, but does include everyone who has committed to see the project through the current sprint.

Product owner: the project’s key stakeholder.

Scrum Master: the one who ensures the team is being as productive as possible. They do this by utilising the Scrum process, the detail of which is embedded in the Scrum learning course.

Product backlog: the list of changes required. This is an essential part of the methodology, so it’s best to keep it detailed and up-to-date.

Sprint: product development work is done to a planned duration, usually between one to four weeks. Each of these sprints/iterations begins with a planning meeting and ends with a review meeting.

Sprint planning meeting: the forum in which each sprint is planned and the items on the product backlog list are prioritised. The team selects what they can complete during the sprint.

Sprint review meeting is held at the tail end of each sprint. This is an ‘active meeting’, almost like a ‘show and tell’ session in which the team demonstrate what has been achieved over the last few weeks. The methodology prescribes that this meeting is also an informal one.

Daily scrum: a daily meeting that happens at some point on any given day of the sprint. It provides the context for the tasks set for that day.

Sprint retrospective: a meeting to decide what’s working well as part of the team process, and not just the project. The team gets together with the Scrum Master and product owner to decide what needs to change, and also appreciate what’s working.

Scrum training courses

One of the upsides of Scrum is that there are a number of certification bodies, so you can shop around for the best value and most relevant training for you. The downside is that some employers will insist on you having a certain certification, even if you already have the knowledge to work in a Scrum team or act as a Scrum Master.

Scrum Master course: prepares for the Professional Scrum Master® I (PSM I®) exam taken on the scrum.org website. This is one of the most recognised Scrum certifications, and one many employers require when hiring a Scrum Master.

Agile Scrum Master course: the ASM course from EXIN has slightly less name recognition than PSM, but covers other agile frameworks. That makes it more useful in certain environments. So if you’ve only had scrum training, you probably won’t have enough knowledge to pass the exam.

Agile Scrum Foundation course: the foundation level of ASM. While ASM is targeted at the managerial level, anyone involved in scrum or agile development can benefit from this certification.