Every day at the International Space Station, astronauts send a report to the mission control center about everything they did.

The mission control center staff then replan every remaining day of the mission. This process repeats itself until the mission is over to ensure all tasks get completed and every duty gets fulfilled.

This cycle actually involves Agile management and the implementation of something called scrum artifacts. In this article, we’ll define what they are and how to get the most out of them.

What are scrum artifacts?

Scrum artifacts comprise the information that a scrum team and stakeholders use to detail a product’s development, actions to produce it, and the actions performed during the project.

Why are they important?

Maintaining specific Scrum artifacts is essential for:

  • Planning
  • Estimating progress
  • Calculating timelines
  • Monitoring success

They also create opportunities for self-reflection and facilitate adaptation during a project.

Before we discuss how to get the most out of them, let’s start by defining each of the three types of Scrum artifacts.

3 artifacts of Scrum, defined

The 3 main Scrum artifacts are the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the product increment.

1. Product backlog

The product backlog is the list of everything that a scrum team must complete before a project is finished.

The product backlog refers to different deliverables according to project type. For example, an ad campaign’s product backlog might include:

  • Design
  • Content
  • Landing page
  • Micro-copy deliverables

At the onset of a project, the product backlog will include the first-known and best-understood requirements. During a sprint planning meeting, product owners decide what each sprint will focus on based on how they rank items in the product backlog.

Because this list will evolve as the project develops, product owners and development teams continuously engage in this product backlog refinement or adding details, estimates, and order to items in the product backlog.

It is also important to know that having multiple, a set of product backlogs is not conducive to Scrum practice.

2. Sprint backlog

“Sprints” are defined periods of work that the development team works to complete the items on the product backlog.

Because the product backlog includes every needed deliverable for the project, it’s necessary to break it down into individual sprint backlogs. These backlogs are ordered list of components called user stories— the smallest unit of work in an agile framework.

The first priority is to set the sprint goal by defining what will be ready and usable by the end of the iteration. Product owners then decide which items from the product backlog will be included in the sprint.

Finally, Scrum masters outline at least one opportunity for process improvement. These get identified during the last sprint’s retrospective meeting.

Many Scrum teams use burndown charts to support the sprint backlog. Burndown charts are useful during sprint reviews, as they allow Scrum teams to visualize how much work is left compared to how much work remains in a sprint.

While Scrum backlogs include lots of detail, teams should have a shared understanding that the backlogs must also be flexible and changeable as the sprint progresses.

3. Product increments

Increments are the sum of all the product backlog items that your team completes during a sprint plus the value of the increments of all previous sprints.

Teams create their own definition for what is considered “done”, however, the rules of scrum qualify “done” as being functional, usable, and offering value in itself.

As the term suggests, each increment brings the scrum team one step closer to the project’s final vision or goal.

Getting the full value of your scrum artifacts

By using your Scrum artifacts, your team will be better positioned to stay on top of projects. Scrum artifacts help break large-scale work into bite-sized pieces, which are easier to manage and track.

Artifacts also provide structure for improving teamwork, accountability, boosting communication skills, and increasing engagement.

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3 tips to get the most out of your Scrum artifacts

How should you approach your scrum artifacts to ensure you can reap their full value and tap into your team’s potential?

1. Generate authentic motivation in each teammate

Without a true, authentic drive to maintain and use them effectively, it will be difficult to derive value from any scrum artifact.

To help encourage your team to embrace your scrum artifacts, make sure each team member understands why they are important, how each artifact works, how it should be maintained, and what kind of value they offer.

2. Choose the right leaders

All teams need effective leadership, and scrum teams are no exception. When choosing who will lead your scrum team, those at the helm will need to possess several traits beyond expertise and experience.

Whether or not you have a seasoned Scrum master, he or she, along with the product owner, must be effective communicators. They need to be able to convey key information such as the purpose of the project, each team member’s individual duties, sprint goals, and vision.

Product owners must champion the Scrum principles and values. They should also promote the scrum methodology among all teammates. They should know the project matter well and communicate with stakeholders, users, and developers.

3. Select the right organizational tools

You may have the best scrum team leaders, engaged employees, and organized sprints, but without an effective scrum artifacts management platform, it will be difficult to reap all of the value from them.

Many teams that have opted for traditional project management software quickly realize these tools are not up to the job. Features for listing tasks, notes, and deadlines are standard across all project management tools.

But systems made for collaboration and efficiency like monday.com have all the facilities needed to take work to the next level by empowering Scrum teams to use product and sprint backlogs and increments as best as possible with its engaging, intuitive, and seamless interface.

Features for communication, sharing information, and updating project statuses are built-in, as well as automation for speeding up processes and integrations with other enterprise apps.

One of the main benefits of monday.com is that it is easy to set up, use, and maintain for all employees — not just developers. This is crucial to scrum, in which collaboration with internal and external stakeholders between each sprint is vital.

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Don’t just go through the motions

Achieving the full range of benefits from the scrum methodology and its artifacts requires deliberate thought, actions, and technology.

Having the right systems in place for actualizing scrum processes and artifacts is integral to success — no matter what kind of project you’re working on.

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