What is Scrum methodology and how can you use it?
If you’re completely new to the topic, Scrum methodology might sound intimidating.
But trust us, it’s not as scary as you think.
Compared to some other project management methods, it’s simple and easy to implement.
Instead of getting stuck in planning and documentation, Scrum is all about getting software (or other complex projects) done.
85% of developers say Scrum improves the quality of their work life. They can work more efficiently with fewer roadblocks or bottlenecks.
Want the same benefits for your team?
In this article, we’ll cover exactly what the Scrum methodology is and give you a step-by-step walkthrough to implementing it in your own business.
What is the Scrum methodology?
The Scrum methodology is the framework which enables businesses to apply Agile principles and values to tackle complex projects — if Agile is the “what” then Scrum is the “how.”
Scrum methodologies (like Agile itself) started within the software development and product management world to help streamline complicated workflows.
But now companies use Scrum for design, marketing, branding, event management, and more. It’s a great framework for handling projects with rapidly-changing requirements.
Scrum project management focuses on self-management, commitment, and focus rather than top-down decisions.
What is the difference between Scrum and Agile methodology?
People often confuse Agile and Scrum and think that they’re the same thing. Sure, they both focus on continuous improvement rather than delivering one final product.
But the scale is different.
Agile is the mindset — the idea behind what you want to achieve, like adaptability, self-management, and speed.
Scrum is the how-to recipe — a concrete blueprint detailing how to implement Agile step-by-step.
That’s what sets Scrum apart. It is a concrete framework with different stages, clearly defined roles, and events.
And the methodology works. 58% of all Agile teams use the Scrum framework.
It gives up the ideal of perfect planning that traditional frameworks relied upon and focuses more on what needs to get done in the short term. That helps you remain connected to what your customers need throughout a project.
Who are the members of a Scrum team?
Before we jump into the framework itself, let’s take a closer look at the makeup of a Scrum team.
- Product owner: The bridge between stakeholders and the team. They understand what the customers need, and will control the overall vision and objectives for the product.
- Scrum master: Not a traditional top-down leader. A part of the team with added responsibilities. For example, reinforcing Scrum values during meetings, and keeping members on-task.
- Team member: The rest of the Scrum development or work team are equal members with direct task ownership.
(At monday.com, we don’t have a Scrum master because we believe everyone is self managed. To find out more about Scrum masters and decide whether the role will work for your Scrum team check out our article on What every new Scrum master must know.)
Stakeholders aren’t actually members of the team, but anyone invested in the outcome of the project. For example, important clients, internal users of the solution, C-suite executives, and more.
Key stakeholders attend important meetings and review product increments (client deliverables).
A Scrum team should be a “complete team” (the Scrum Guide calls it cross-functional.) Each member should have all the necessary tools to complete an iteration. They shouldn’t need to outsource anything from design to production.
It’s a guiding Scrum principle.
For example, a mobile experience team must have mobile UX designers, app developers, API experts, and more.
Learn more about Scrum roles in our dedicated article.
What are the phases of Scrum methodology?
The Scrum method defines many different Scrum ceremonies (meetings) and processes. These can be divided into five different phases, from pre-planning to retrospective.
#1: The pre-planning phase
- Setting goals and vision: The product owner will define the overarching goals, objectives, and often a product roadmap. Usually done in direct collaboration with stakeholders.
- Creating and refining product backlog: The product backlog is a list of features, requirements, and bug fixes (for live software) that outlines everything a team must do to complete a product.
#2: The planning phase
- Hold a sprint planning meeting and select features to include in the sprint backlog (these are often defined from the user’s perspective and called user stories).
- Break any large requirements (often called “epics”) down into tangible tasks with estimates of how long each will take.
- Make sure the sprint backlog is small enough to be achievable in your sprint time frame and assign ownership of different user stories and tasks to the appropriate team members.
#3: The sprint, or development, phase
- Work towards your iteration or product increment that’ll be delivered at the end of the sprint.
- Hold a daily standup or daily Scrum meeting where you discuss yesterday’s progress, today’s tasks, and any potential bottlenecks.
#4: The testing and review phase
- Arrange a sprint review meeting (aka product increment review) where customers and actual users of the product (stakeholders) test the new increment. If they accept the changes, and they work as they should, you can accept the new iteration as done.
#5: The retrospective phase
- Hold a sprint retrospective with Scrum team members to review what went well, and where you have room for improvement.
- Update the general product backlog based on the success (or failure) of the increment, and any changes in stakeholder priority.
How to use the Scrum methodology for your next project
To get started with Scrum for project management, follow the process below.
#1: Choose a suitable product ownerThe product owner isn’t necessarily the most senior developer. Rather, it’s whoever has the best understanding of your customers and their needs.
It could be an internal user of the product, someone from support, sales, marketing, account management, or even a business analyst.
They’re the liaison between your Scrum team and the stakeholders, so choose carefully.
#2: Create and refine your product backlog
Before you can start planning any particular sprint, you need to outline all of the things your finished product should include.
The product owner should work closely with all important stakeholders to populate a product backlog.
Refine the desired features or items and prioritize them based on your short-term and long term goals.
For example, your stakeholders may have singled out must-haves for the next iteration.
Use color-coded priority tags to help your project team focus on the right things.
#3: Plan your first sprint
Evaluate all the candidates (features in the backlog) and decide which ones to focus on in your sprint. Determine the larger sprint goal, outlining the overall desired change in user experience.
When creating your initial sprint backlog, don’t forget to consider your team’s capacity.
In Agile and Scrum, we often focus on “user stories” over features. Essentially, these are features from the customer’s perspective, detailing their desired outcome.
For example, rather than “mobile app compatibility” you might use something like “I want to access and edit the documents on my smartphone.”
#4: Estimate the time for each task
You also need to estimate how long each task will take. You can then either set clear deadlines or use story points (SP), an estimated scope that you decide on as a team.
At monday.com, our internal teams consider 1 SP to equal a full workday, and we plan 8 SP for 2-week sprints to leave leeway for unforeseen issues.
#5: Assign ownership to appropriate team members
The team will discuss and assign ownership of tasks and user stories to appropriate team members.
Self-organization is key here. The Scrum master shouldn’t be telling members what to do.
#6: Hold daily Scrum meetings
The daily Scrum or standup is used by 85% of Agile teams for a reason. Daily progress meetings help everyone prioritize and collaborate on goals.
Our internal teams find them incredibly useful. They get on a live Zoom call each morning and use our project tracker board to review progress and motivate each other.
#7: Review the sprint increment with stakeholders
Invite clients and internal stakeholders to put the new increment to the test. This meeting is called the sprint review or product increment review.
If the users feel that the new functionality meets their expectations in every way (total experience), the sprint was a success.
If not, you need to adjust the backlog based on what users felt was inadequate.
#8: Hold a retrospective meeting
In the sprint retrospective meeting, the product owner, Scrum master, and team members will evaluate the following:
- What went well
- Areas to improve
- Potential changes to the product backlog
It’s the key to keep learning and improving your Scrum processes.
We like to use our feedback tracker to capture team feedback and areas to focus on moving forward.
#9 Start the next sprint
It’s time for a new sprint, so start another sprint planning meeting. Rinse and repeat your process as you develop your product and learn more about Scrum.
The Scrum framework helps developers, marketers, engineers, and other teams get more projects done, faster and better.
You’re constantly improving your end product (every few weeks), and can easily adapt to any changes in the marketplace or your customer base.
It might seem hard, but putting the Agile Scrum methodology to work is easy with the right platform.
monday.com has plug-and-play templates that are perfect for managing your Scrum process. Plus, you can easily transfer tasks from your backlog to your sprint boards.
If you want to get started today, monday.com’s Scrum sprint planning template makes implementing a Scrum methodology easy.