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Agile Method Brief – Scrum


Quick Summary
A brief overview of the Scrum methodology—an agile software development methodology focused on developing products or managing work in an iterative and incremental manner.


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What this is

This Agile Method Brief describes Scrum, an agile software development methodology that focuses on developing products or managing work in an iterative and incremental manner. Scrum is empirical in nature and takes on many of the characteristics of an experiment. The team establishes a hypothesis of how they think something works, trying it out, reflecting on the experience, and making the appropriate adjustments.


Why it's useful

Scrum is useful because it provides a simple but effective approach to managing the work of a small collaborative team involved in the development of software or some other product. It provides a framework and set of simple rules that allow an appropriate amount of planning, control over the work, risk identification and mitigation, and issue identification and resolution.


How to use it

  1. Establish a list of things to deliver in the project. In Scrum terms, this is a product backlog.
  2. Hold a sprint planning meeting with everyone working on the project, including the business-focused team members and the development team members. Determine what items from the product backlog to deliver for that sprint, and identify what tasks are needed to realize those items.
  3. As the sprint progresses, team members volunteer for specific tasks. Task focus is based on the product backlog items that the team committed to deliver.
  4. On a daily basis, the team gets together to coordinate their work in a Daily Scrum. During that 15-minute meeting, each team member updates the rest of the team on three points of information.
  5. At the end of the sprint the team delivers the product backlog items they committed to. They hold a sprint review meeting and a retrospective and adapt their processes accordingly.
  6. The team repeats steps 2–5 until the goals of the project are met, or the product owner determines that sufficient product backlog items have been delivered.
About the Author

Kent J. McDonald, partner and co-founder of Accelinnova, has more than a decade of experience guiding successful projects and designing business solutions in a variety of industries, including financial services, health insurance, performance marketing, human services, non-profit, and automotive. By addressing common questions about project leadership, Kent demonstrates how agile practices can be applied in organizations, focusing on his "Words To Lead By: Collaborate; Iterate; Serve The Team; Consider Context; Practice Excellence; Reflect And Adapt; Deliver Value."

Kent has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from Kent State University. He is co-founder, and Treasurer of the Agile Project Leadership Network, is a founder of the Agile Iowa Group, and is on the planning committee for the Agile 2007 Conference. He welcomes questions about project leadership with a focus on value at kent@kentmcdonald.com.


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