In the past, software products was planned, developed and tested for years until the product was finally released to customers. During the long planning and implementation phases many things can change from the used technology to the customer needs. Due to the changes or problems that need to be handled in later phases, companies lost a lot of money because of the slow and wrong project management approaches.
However, things have changed since the year 2001, when the agile manifesto was introduced to revolutionize software development. The agile manifesto contains 12 principles with a clear focus on the customer, the software delivery, the collaboration inside a team and the outcome rather than processes and documentation.
Now, 18 years later since the agile manifesto was introduced by a group of software developers more than 70% (according to PMI) of all organizations use agile methodologies such as SCRUM and KANBAN.
In this article I want to focus on the agile methodology of SCRUM and why SCRUM matters for you and your company.
With the launch of modern smartphones in 2007 and one year later with mobile app stores, software products are used by their customers from every possible location. Furthermore, the products must serve the users’ needs wherever they are and whenever they want to use it. With the rise of high quality mobile phones and products the expectation from the software increased. Users are way more emotionally attached to their mobile phones and to the software that runs on it.
But what has this example to do with SCRUM?
Well, customers these days expect to have the latest software in highest quality on their phones or computers. For companies, this high expectation means that they must be able to deliver software updates fast and smooth. There is no time to plan, develop and test a new feature for months or years before it is released to the customers. The customers will not wait and will most likely move on to the competitors product.
To handle the fast pace of software delivery, SCRUM as a software development methodology comes into place. With SCRUM software development teams or companies are able to plan, develop and release smaller increments of their product and to deliver it, for example on a bi-weekly basis to their customers. With the short release cycles teams get early feedback from customers to understand if the product will be developed in the correct way and if it serves the users needs.
One big advantage of SCRUM is the adaptability of teams. A SCRUM team is able to change their way of working after each sprint to adopt the learnings and to not make the same mistakes in the next cycle. However, SCRUM also provide the possibility to change the requirements in the next sprint based on the customer or stakeholder feedback.
Main Events and Artifacts of SCRUM
Working a SCRUM team is fun but also challenging and if you are not familiar with SCRUM, today might be a good day to start learning about it. Let’s take a quick look into the framework and what you can expect from it.
The SCRUM framework consists of five main events and are explained in a short way:
- Sprint: A fixed time frame with a clear goal
- Sprint Planning: A meeting where the team decides what topic will be covered in the next sprint.
- Daily SCRUM: A daily team sync. to check the progress of the work. In case of problems the team can inspect and adapt.
- Sprint Review: The team presents the results of the sprint to stakeholders.
- Sprint Retrospective: Team discusses what went well and what needs to be improved in the next sprint.
Next to the five main events of SCRUM there are other artifacts that play an important role for every SCRUM team member and the product company.
These artifacts are:
- The Product Backlog
- Sprint Backlog
Last but not least; there are different roles inside a SCRUM team. There is the SCRUM Master, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Team Member (such as developers, testers, etc.).
If you have never heard about the mentioned roles, artifacts or the main five events, you should better start today with your SCRUM training to not miss the industry standard for software development teams and to stay up to date with the market needs.
Where to Learn About SCRUM?
In order to learn SCRUM you have several options. The first one is to buy a book about SCRUM, read it and try to practice this in your company. However, with this approach you will not be able to take an official exam to test your skills and you will not receive a certificate to prove your SCRUM skills.
The second option might be an in class training about SCRUM. For example, there is one from Stanford University. In this 2 day workshop you learn the fundamentals of SCRUM and in the end you are a certified SCRUM master. The drawback of this approach is, that it costs a lot of money to get trained and certified. Furthermore, you have to wait for the next class and you have to travel or commute.
The third option may be the right way to go for you. There is an organization called International Scrum Assembly that provides free online SCRUM training. They put a lot of effort into their training material so that you can learn the core of SCRUM quickly at the convenience of your home. Once you complete your free training, you can enroll into one of their three programs (Scrum Master, Scrum Product Owner, Scrum Team Member). You can take free practice exams that will prepare you for the official exam. Once you pass the official exam, you will earn an accredited certificate to prove your SCRUM skills. And the best news is: their programs are very affordable. Their address is https://www.scrumassembly.org/.
Nobody wants to go back into the old days, where software was delivered once a year. Delivering software must be quick, fun and challenging at the same time, to learn and to adapt new skills on a daily basis and SCRUM is the right methodology to support this. So better start your training now!