Open Your Agile Manifesto and Tame the Scrum Principles

By Nathan Cavet
Published: 4/14/21
illustration post it 1

Scrum, scrum, scrum... Are you confused by this word you keep on seeing everywhere in project management?

Even though it can sound familiar, sadly there is no link between the sport and our subject.

Why this methodology rather than another? If you are developing a product, an application for example, the needs of your customers, or your employer, are not fixed. Your proposals will even give them new ideas, on which you will have to bounce.

This great flexibility that is required of you is what we call agility. Say goodbye to rigid and restrictive planning!

You need a more scalable organization for your web project management, but one that is sufficiently focused to keep an eye on deadlines, budget and the end-user? We present you the Scrum principles, their advantages and how they are concretely implemented.

Ready? Start!

What are the Scrum principles?

Definition

Among the agile methods, based on the Agile Manifesto (a guide) written in 2001 by application development experts, the Scrum principles rely on collaborative project management and a development cycle which should be:

  • iterative (repeated several times, from the initial idea to an increasingly mature version),
  • incremental (progressive, task after task),
  • adaptive.

Thus, the 3 Scrum pillars are:

  • transparency, in communication and follow-up,
  • regular inspection to detect gaps between the objectives and the work done,
  • adaptation, for a permanent adjustment to the constraints.

There are different processes and ways of using the scrum principles. And if it is important to always remain agile, each company should feel free to adapt, adjust and work the way they want to.

When to use Scrum?

Offering more responsiveness, it is more adapted than traditional methods for managing web projects, such as software development, because it translates and organizes projects in a simple, transparent and pragmatic way.

This framework helps when:

  • the whole of a complex project can neither be anticipated nor planned entirely,
  • its management requires a minimum of flexibility to easily integrate changes to the initial plans.

There are several steps to follow that should help your team better deliver projects.

What are its advantages?

Its strength is that it relies on short development cycles, constantly adapted, without ever losing sight of the user experience (UX).

Among its benefits:

  • more flexible and intelligent management of the work, improving the efficiency of the teams on each release,
  • better visibility on the project and its evolution,
  • improved internal communication, and therefore better team cohesion,
  • sharing of knowledge and promotion of mutual aid,
  • time-saving and better reactivity thanks to frequent meetings and customer insights.

What are the main characteristics of the Scrum principles?

scrum process© tuleap

Scrum principles are based on:

  • the division of a project into short time units, called sprints, to avoid the tunnel effect, which could happen when planning far too long in advance,
  • regular meetings to take stock,
  • precise roles:
    • a multidisciplinary team structure (developers, architects, designers, testers),
    • the Product Owner (PO), who has the vision of the product and ensures that the customer's expectations are properly translated to the project team, by defining the functional specifications (or specs) and priorities,
    • the Scrum Master, who is the orchestra leader, the coordinator of the agile team, of which they are an integral part.

User stories

Thanks to their knowledge and customer input, the Product Owner defines all the functional requests, or features, based on the expectations of one or more types of users, to add value to the product.

These expectations are translated into user stories, in a few words, so that the whole project team understands the objectives:

"As [type of user], I would like [such functionality] to be able to [enjoy such and such benefits]".

Each user story, therefore, corresponds to a functionality, a service. It includes:

  • an identifier,
  • a name
  • an order of priority,
  • an estimate of the work required,
  • a demonstration & a test,
  • additional notes.

The backlog

From each user story come technical requirements, which are prioritized and compiled in the product backlog, a sort of To-do list of the product to be developed.

It will evolve according to the emergence of new needs and the completion of certain tasks.

The backlog can be represented visually in the form of a mapping called a user story map or storyboard:

user stories© plan.io

The division of the project into sprints (or iterations)

sprint framework© Shutterstock

What is a scrum sprint?

It is a development cycle. Each sprint lasts from 2 to 4 weeks and includes :

  • a development phase,
  • a quality control phase (tests),
  • the delivery of the result (release).

To function properly, each sprint has a goal (in the diagram below: foundation, security, etc.) and is punctuated by the following events, called scrum ceremonies.

Scrum ceremonies

The scrum ceremonies are the meetings that punctuate each sprint.

The sprint planning meeting

The priority elements of the product backlog are selected for the upcoming sprint and moved into the sprint backlog.

Daily scrum meetings

Daily scrum meetings are short daily meetings that aim to review:

  • the progress and blockages of the previous day,
  • the quality of deliverables,
  • the respect of deadlines,
  • the day's work.

The scrum master can keep a burn-down chart, a graph illustrating the progress of the project (remaining tasks, efforts made).

They also take note of the problems detected in order to dispatch additional tasks at the end of the meeting to resolve them.

effort chart© visual paradigm

Among the other tools used in scrum: the Kanban board, or task board.

The tasks to be done going from the "product backlog" column to the "To do" column, i.e. the sprint backlog, then "in progress" then "done".

kanban board© monday.com

The sprint review meeting

The sprint review meeting takes place at the end of the sprint to present the deliverables to the customer and get their feedback.

Improvement points are then added to the product backlog, and validated features are compiled in the increment backlog.

The sprint retrospective meeting

Finally, the team and the scrum master meet in a sprint retrospective to review the organization of the last sprint and to promote its continuous improvement.

For this purpose, the team can use a learning matrix, a matrix divided into four quadrants where each collaborator sticks a post-it note and then votes for the suggestions thus proposed, the goal being to identify priorities:

  • what does not work and must be changed,
  • what was good and should be reproduced,
  • new ways to try,
  • the collaborators or stakeholders appreciated.

The objectives for the next sprint are also discussed.

Sprint, scrum: there is no point in running...

... you have to leave on time! By breaking down the web project intelligently and sharing progress and blockages frequently, teams have more flexibility in executing and monitoring their tasks.

The product owner, with their insight into both the customer and the end-user, as well as the scrum master, with their role as game master, have decisive roles in ensuring the success of the developers while guaranteeing them a minimum of autonomy.

Efficiency and productivity are the issues here, as well as competitiveness. In the digital world, where everything must move faster but be qualitative, the scrum method is recommended.

Of course, its particular organization requires a minimum of time to adapt and a few tools, even if it's only colored post-its, but the result is worth it.

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