Agile

Scrum Tools

What are Scrum Tools?
Definition of Scrum Tools
Scrum tools are software applications designed to support Scrum teams in managing their projects, tracking progress, and collaborating effectively. These tools help teams implement Scrum practices by providing features such as backlog management, sprint planning, task boards, burndown charts, and real-time communication. Popular Scrum tools include Jira, Trello, Asana, and Azure DevOps, which offer various capabilities to suit different team sizes and project complexities.

Scrum is a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal. It challenges the traditional, sequential approach to product development. Scrum enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily face-to-face communication among all team members and disciplines in the project.

A key principle of Scrum is its recognition that during product development, the customers can change their minds about what they want and need (often called "requirements churn"), and that unpredicted challenges cannot be easily addressed in a traditional predictive or planned manner. As such, Scrum adopts an empirical approach—accepting that the problem cannot be fully understood or defined, focusing instead on maximizing the team's ability to deliver quickly, to respond to emerging requirements, and to adapt to evolving technologies and changes in market conditions.

Overview of Scrum Tools

Scrum tools are software applications that facilitate the Scrum framework, promoting collaboration, transparency, and efficiency among team members. These tools can range from simple physical boards with sticky notes to sophisticated digital project management software. The right Scrum tool can make all the difference in successfully implementing the Scrum framework.

Scrum tools are designed to help teams manage Scrum artifacts, such as product backlogs, sprint backlogs, and increment. They also help in tracking the progress of sprints and releases. The tools provide a central place where the team can manage, share, and discuss these artifacts. They also provide visibility into the work being done, which is crucial for Scrum teams.

Types of Scrum Tools

There are two main types of Scrum tools: physical and digital. Physical Scrum tools are tangible items like whiteboards, sticky notes, and index cards. These tools are often used in co-located teams where all members work in the same physical location. They provide a simple and effective way to visualize work and progress.

Digital Scrum tools, on the other hand, are software applications that can be accessed from anywhere. They are especially useful for distributed teams where members work from different locations. These tools often come with additional features like reporting, notifications, and integrations with other tools.

Choosing a Scrum Tool

Choosing the right Scrum tool for your team depends on a number of factors. These include the size of your team, the complexity of your projects, and whether your team is co-located or distributed. It's also important to consider the learning curve associated with the tool. A tool that is too complex can become a hindrance rather than a help.

It's also important to consider the features offered by the tool. Some tools offer features like time tracking, reporting, and integration with other tools. These features can be very useful, but they can also add complexity. It's important to choose a tool that offers the features you need without being overly complex.

Scrum Artifacts

Scrum artifacts are key elements of the Scrum framework. They represent work or value and provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. The three Scrum artifacts are the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog, and the Increment.

The Product Backlog is an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. It is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is a dynamic list of features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and fixes that constitute the changes to be made to the product in future releases. Product Backlog items have the attributes of a description, order, estimate, and value. Product Backlog items often include test descriptions that will prove its completeness when done.

As a product is used and gains value, and the marketplace provides feedback, the Product Backlog becomes a larger and more exhaustive list. Requirements never stop changing, so a Product Backlog is a living artifact. Changes in business requirements, market conditions, or technology may cause changes in the Product Backlog.

Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Backlog is a forecast by the Development Team about what functionality will be in the next Increment and the work needed to deliver that functionality into a "Done" Increment.

The Sprint Backlog is a plan with enough detail that changes in progress can be understood in the Daily Scrum. The Development Team modifies the Sprint Backlog throughout the Sprint, and the Sprint Backlog emerges during the Sprint. This emergence occurs as the Development Team works through the plan and learns more about the work needed to achieve the Sprint Goal.

Increment

The Increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint and the value of the increments of all previous Sprints. At the end of a Sprint, the new Increment must be "Done," which means it must be in useable condition and meet the Scrum Team’s definition of "Done". An increment is a step toward a vision or goal.

The increment should be in useable condition regardless of whether the Product Owner decides to release it. The Increment is a step toward a vision or goal. The increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint and the value of the increments of all previous Sprints. At the end of a Sprint, the new Increment must be "Done," which means it must be in useable condition and meet the Scrum Team’s definition of "Done".

Scrum Roles

The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional. Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team. Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team.

The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity. Scrum Teams deliver products iteratively and incrementally, maximizing opportunities for feedback. Incremental deliveries of "Done" product ensure a potentially useful version of working product is always available.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from work of the Development Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals. The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog.

Product Backlog management includes: Clearly expressing Product Backlog items; Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions; Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs; Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next; and, Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.

Development Team

The Development Team consists of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of "Done" product at the end of each Sprint. A "Done" increment is required at the Sprint Review. Only members of the Development Team create the Increment.

Development Teams are structured and empowered by the organization to organize and manage their own work. The resulting synergy optimizes the Development Team’s overall efficiency and effectiveness. Development Teams have the following characteristics: They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

Scrum Events

Prescribed events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. All events are time-boxed events, such that every event has a maximum duration. Once a Sprint begins, its duration is fixed and cannot be shortened or lengthened. The remaining events may end whenever the purpose of the event is achieved, ensuring an appropriate amount of time is spent without allowing waste in the process.

The Scrum Events are: Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Sprint

The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a "Done", useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. Sprints have consistent durations throughout a development effort. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

Sprints contain and consist of the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning is time-boxed to a maximum of eight hours for a one-month Sprint. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter. The Scrum Master ensures that the event takes place and that attendants understand its purpose. The Scrum Master teaches the Scrum Team to keep it within the time-box.

Sprint Planning answers the following: What can be delivered in the Increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint? How will the work needed to deliver the Increment be achieved?

Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours. This optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming Sprint work. The Daily Scrum is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity.

The structure of the meeting is set by the Development Team and can be conducted in different ways if it focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal. Some Development Teams will use questions, some will be more discussion based. Here is an example of what might be used:

Sprint Review

A Sprint Review is held at the end of the Sprint to inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog if needed. During the Sprint Review, the Scrum Team and stakeholders collaborate about what was done in the Sprint. Based on that and any changes to the Product Backlog during the Sprint, attendees collaborate on the next things that could be done to optimize value.

This is an informal meeting, not a status meeting, and the presentation of the Increment is intended to elicit feedback and foster collaboration. This is at most a four-hour meeting for one-month Sprints. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint.

The Sprint Retrospective occurs after the Sprint Review and prior to the next Sprint Planning. This is at most a three-hour meeting for one-month Sprints. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

Conclusion

Scrum is a powerful framework for implementing agile processes in software development and other project management. This glossary has provided a comprehensive overview of the key concepts, roles, and tools used in Scrum. Understanding these terms is crucial for anyone involved in a Scrum project, and they provide the foundation for further study and practice of Scrum methodologies.

Scrum tools are essential for implementing the Scrum framework effectively. They help teams to manage their work and progress, and provide transparency and collaboration. Choosing the right Scrum tool for your team can make a big difference in the success of your Scrum implementation.