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What is Scrum in Agile

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Do you want to learn everything about Scrum?

Before I explain how it works, let me first go over what Scrum is and where it came from. Then, I will cover everything you need to know to get familiar with Scrum.

What is Scrum in Project Management?

Scrum is a lightweight agile methodology used in software development. It is a type of agile software development framework that helps teams deliver quality products through a series of iterations. Teams work in short, typically two to four weeks cycles called sprints. At the end of each sprint, teams demonstrate what they have developed, receive feedback from users, and make changes for the next sprint based on the feedback.

Look at it this way. Instead of planning all features and functionality upfront, your team can start the work with what they know. And then, using short sprints, track progress and adjust priorities based on the feedback they receive from users.

Scrum Framework

Origin of Scrum

The term scrum comes from a rugby game, where the team comes together to form what they call a scrum to move the ball forward. The Scrum framework borrows this metaphor to imply the process where a team works together to achieve a common goal through a series of small, incremental steps.

The term scrum in the context of software development was first introduced by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in 1986 in their Harward Business Review article called “The New New Product Development Game”. They described how this new approach is flexible and speedy, based on the experience of manufacturing companies in the automobile and printing industry. They called it the rugby approach because a single cross-functional team executes the process through a series of short phases, in which the team tries to reach a goal.

The Scrum framework, as we know it today,  was developed in the early 1990s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, who were both inspired by the work of Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. In 1995, Ken and Jeff presented a paper describing the Scrum framework. It was the first public and formal documentation of Scrum. Over the following years, they worked together to develop it further and improve the Scrum framework. Later, in 2009, Ken and Jeff published a document called The Scrum Guide describing the main points. The most recent revision is from November 2020.

Today, Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies. Organizations worldwide use it to manage projects in various fields, including software product development, marketing, manufacturing, and others.

Scrum Pillars and Values

Scrum Pillars

Three Scrum pillars provide the framework foundation: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Together, these pillars help teams deliver high-quality products collaboratively, flexibly, and transparently.

  • Transparency: Scrum emphasizes the importance of transparency in all aspects of product development, including the goals, progress, and challenges of the team. This transparency is achieved through regular communication like daily stand-up meetings and sprint review meetings.
  • Inspection: Scrum teams regularly review and assess their progress and the quality of the work, typically during sprint retrospective meetings and sprint review meetings.
  • Adaptation: Based on the results of the inspections, Scrum teams are expected to adapt and adjust their approach to ensure that the work remains on track. By using sprint planning meetings teams adjust the plan for future sprints based on the new information and changed priorities.

I will cover the different types of meetings in more detail in the section called Scrum Events.

5 Core Scrum Values

 These five core Scrum values intend to help teams work effectively and deliver quality products.

  • Courage: The courage to embrace changes, take risks, and resolve tough problems as a team.
  • Focus: The focus is on delivering working software each sprint without distractions.
  • Openness: The openness to new ideas and feedback, the team’s progress, and what must be improved.
  • Respect: Respect for the skills and expertise of the team members.
  • Commitment: The commitment to the goals for each sprint, as well as the overall success of the product.

Scrum Team

A Scrum team is a group of people who are responsible for delivering working software to users. It is a small, typically up to ten people, group of people without any sub-teams or hierarchies.

Some of the characteristics of a Scrum team:

  • Cross-functional: the team has all skills, knowledge, and expertise to deliver products without relying on external resources.
  • Self-organizing: the team is responsible to figure out the best way to deliver a product successfully.
  • Flexible and adaptable: the team is expected to respond quickly to priorities changes and new user needs.

A Scrum team includes Developers, a Product Owner, and a Scrum Master.

Role of the Developers

Developers in Scrum are the professionals who are responsible for completing the work required to deliver the product to users. This typically includes researchers, developers, testers, and designers, among others. Because it is confusing to call everyone on a Scrum team a developer, people use team members, team, or development team terms instead.

The Developers’ primary responsibilities include:

  • Complete the work that the team committed to during the planning phase of the sprint.
  • Demonstrate the completed work to the stakeholders at the end of the sprint. 
  • Continually improve their process and skills, to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Deliver high-quality and working software to users as frequently as possible.
  • Work closely with the Scrum Master and the Product Owner to ensure that the delivery of the product stays on track and that the team delivers value to users.

Role of the Product Owner

The Product Owner ensures that the development team delivers the maximum value to users.

The Product Owner’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Communicate product vision, goals, release schedule, and status.
  • Create and maintain the product backlog.
  • Work with the development team to refine and prioritize the items in the backlog.
  • Make product backlog visible and well understood.
  • Work closely with the Scrum Master to facilitate the process and to ensure that the development team has everything it needs to be successful.

Role of the Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is responsible for helping Product Owner, development team, and the organization to follow the Scrum framework and provides coaching and mentoring. They are not a decision-maker, but rather a leader who helps the team be effective and do their best work.

The Scrum Master’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Facilitate the Scrum process, including daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective meetings. Make sure meetings are effective and positive.
  • Remove any impediments that are preventing the team from making progress.
  • Help the team to manage product backlog effectively and ensure that product backlog items are concise.
  • Help with product planning.
  • Bring the team and stakeholders closer in a collaborative and honest environment.
  • Ensure that the team is following the Scrum values and principles.

Scrum Events

The sprint is a timebox of all Scrum events, which is usually two to four weeks long. Each event has its purpose in helping the team ensure transparency, review progress, remove issues, and adopt changes.

  • Sprint: This is a minimum unit of the product release process. Sprint has a goal and a time-boxed load of work that the team will complete and deliver to users. Each sprint starts with a sprint planning meeting and ends with a sprint review followed by a sprint retrospective.
  • Daily stand-up: This is a short, usually 15 minutes long daily meeting where each team member reports on progress. Their report usually requires to answer these three questions:
    • What did I work on since the last stand-up?
    • Do I have any impediments?
    • What do I plan to work on next?

The goal of this meeting is to keep the team up to date and to identify any issues.

  • Sprint planning: This is a meeting that is held at the beginning of each sprint where the Scrum team plans the work that will be done during the sprint. The team works with the Product Owner to review the items in the product backlog and determine which ones to include in the sprint.
  • Sprint review: This is a meeting that is held at the end of each sprint where the Scrum team reviews the work that has been completed and demonstrates it to stakeholders. The team receives feedback during this meeting and adjusts its plan for the next sprint based on that feedback.
  • Sprint retrospective: This is a meeting that is held at the end of each sprint, right after the sprint review, where the Scrum team reflects on the past sprint and identifies any improvements that can be made to the process. Typically, the team answers these three questions:
    • What went well during the last sprint?
    • What did not go well?
    • What can we improve?

Once everyone provided their input, the team discusses each item. And, the Scrum Master writes down action items that the team will take immediately in the next sprint.

Scrum Artifacts

Scrum artifacts are the documentation of what value users will receive. They provide transparency and facilitate inspection and adaptation of the development processes. The team must refer to these artifacts in all Scrum events and update them as needed.

There are three main artifacts in Scrum:

  • Product Backlog: This is an ordered list of all the work that needs to be done to deliver the product to users. The Product Owner is responsible for creating and maintaining the product backlog. And the development team works with the Product Owner to refine and prioritize the items in the backlog. The Product Backlog has a Product Goal as a commitment to establish a focus for the team and measure its success.
  • Sprint Backlog: This is an ordered list of the work that the development team has committed to completing during the current sprint. The team takes it from the top of the product backlog and represents the team’s plan for the sprint. Each sprint has a Sprint Goal as a commitment to establish a clear objective of what the team will deliver.
  • Increment: This is the output of each sprint, which is a working and releasable portion of the product. Each increment builds on top of the previous one and it either adds new functionality or corrects errors. The team commits to establishing a Definition of Done for increments so that there is a common understanding of how each increment meets the quality standards of the product.

Scrum Pros and Cons


Some of the benefits of using Scrum include:

  • Faster delivery: By working in short sprints and delivering working software frequently, Scrum allows teams to get valuable feedback from stakeholders early in the process, which can help to identify and fix issues quicker.
  • Greater flexibility: Scrum is designed to be flexible and adaptable, which means that teams can respond quickly to changes in priorities and user needs. This can be especially important in fast-moving environments where requirements may change a lot.
  • Improved quality: Scrum emphasizes the importance of delivering working software and regularly inspecting and adapting the process to identify and fix issues. This can help to improve the overall quality of the final product.
  • Enhanced collaboration: Scrum encourages close collaboration and communication among team members and stakeholders, which can help to foster a sense of teamwork and shared ownership of the product.
  • Increased transparency: Scrum promotes transparency in all aspects of the product development process, which can help to build trust and improve relationships with users and stakeholders.


While the Scrum framework has many benefits, it is not without some challenges and limitations.

Some of the challenges of using Scrum include:

  • It requires a high level of discipline: For Scrum to be effective, team members must be disciplined and committed to following the Scrum framework. This can be difficult to achieve in some organizations.
  • It may not be suitable for all projects: Scrum is best suited for complex and uncertain projects, and may not be the best fit for more straightforward and well-defined projects.
  • It can be difficult to estimate work accurately: Work is typically estimated in relative terms like small, medium, and large, which can make it difficult to accurately estimate the amount of work that can be completed in a sprint. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and potential disappointments.
  • It requires strong leadership: Scrum relies on strong leadership from the Scrum Master and the Product Owner to be successful. Without strong leadership, it can be difficult to keep the team focused and on track.
  • It requires a high level of collaboration: Scrum relies on close collaboration and communication among team members and stakeholders. This can be challenging in some organizations where there are cultural or other barriers to collaboration.


The Scrum framework is a powerful tool for managing and delivering complex products to users. It is based on a set of values and principles that promote collaboration, flexibility, and transparency, and it emphasizes the importance of delivering working software frequently and responding to change quickly. By working in short sprints and regularly reviewing and adapting the process, teams can deliver quality products to users in a timely and efficient manner. While there are challenges and limitations to using Scrum, many organizations around the world have adopted it successfully.

Are you using Scrum? Let me know your experience with it in the comments.

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About Vit Lyoshin

Since 2011, Vit has worked with product teams, managing mobile, web, and cloud systems development within commercial industries and government. Applying his strong planning, coordinating, communication, interpersonal, and decision-making skills led multiple cross-functional teams to deploy various software products for global and national companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as for the US government.


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