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What is Scrum Project Management?


When it comes to project management, there is no shortage of methods or approaches. To make the best choice for your team, project managers need to have a solid understanding of the available options.

One of the top project management frameworks is Scrum. It continues to gain in popularity in recent years. In 2022, the 16th Annual State of Agile report found that 81% of teams surveyed use Scrum or a variant of it. 

Let’s take a look at what  the Scrum project management method entails, when Scrum is used, and why it’s a beneficial approach.

Scrum Basics  

In simple terms, Scrum “helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.” It’s a framework that provides a structure for delivery while leaving the specifics of how to work up to each team. This acknowledges the unpredictable nature of projects and emphasizes the importance of being adaptable. 

The term is borrowed from rugby. In a scrum, the team forms a huddle on the field during the game to call plays and make strategic decisions. But ultimately, once they start to play, it is up to each individual player to make the decision at the moment for the rest of the team. 

Originally, Scrum became popularized as a tool for software development. But its adaptability makes it easy for anyone who needs to produce an end product, such as a website, construction project, marketing campaign, or even a book.

What are Scrum Team Roles?

The nature of Scrum calls for small teams. The official guide recommends no more than 10 people. Every member of the team will fall into one of the following roles:

Product Owner

This is a stand-in for the customer or client. As such, they have the authority to make decisions about the product and are responsible for communicating the vision to the team and prioritizing backlog items.

A successful and effective product owner provides clear guidance, organized, and available to answer questions throughout the life cycle of the project.

Developers

On any Scrum development team, you will have at least two people working on development. As a team, they are responsible for the delivery of the product. Unlike other project management methods, a Scrum team is self-organizing. This means they operate without explicit intervention from the outside; they choose how to to build a given product and its features. 

An effective team has members with differing skill sets, who are open and willing to cross-train each other. This ensures no one person becomes a bottleneck in the delivery of work. 

Scrum Master

Leading the way in any Scrum project is a Scrum Master. They are the keepers of the process who exist to service the team for a successful project lifecycle. 

Unlike traditional project managers, Scrum Masters do not provide step by step instructions. Instead, they mediate internal discussions, negotiate external communication, remove obstacles that impede progress, and continually look for ways to fine-tune the process. 

What is the Scrum Process?

The focus for Scrum is smaller, fixed-length iterations, also known as “sprints.” On average, these last about two weeks. Even though Scrum is designed to be intentionally vague and allow teams the freedom to be creative, there is still an outlined process to follow.

Within each sprint, Scrum teams use the following steps as a guide: 

1. Planning

Held on the first day of any sprint, the planning phase should include every member of the team. This meeting allows everyone to be on the same page regarding why the sprint is valuable, what work can be done during it, and how the work is expected to be completed. 

2. Daily Scrum

Throughout each sprint, daily Scrum meetings take up approximately 15 minutes with the idea that they will eliminate the need for multiple, longer meetings. 

With a Scrum Master facilitating, a typical daily planning meeting will involve:

  • Discussing progress toward sprint goal
  • Inspecting and adapting the sprint plan
  • Identifying obstacles
  • Making plans for the following day

3. Sprint Review 

At the end of a sprint, the Scrum team meets to review the progress and processes. This time to debrief allows team members to better optimize for the next sprint based on feedback. 

How this looks will vary by team and industry, but it will most likely include:

  • Reviewing what the team accomplished compared to what they intended to accomplish 
  • Demonstrating the product to customers or stakeholders
  • Discussing next steps 

The Benefits of Scrum

When project managers are looking to make the switch to Scrum, it can be challenging to get everyone else on board. It’s important to highlight the unique advantages that this framework has to offer compared to other project management methods. 

The primary benefits of Scrum are its adaptability, visibility, and efficiency. 

With a process that involves frequent check-ins, it’s easy to identify problems or necessary changes quickly. Teams are able to adapt and pivot quickly without wasting weeks’ worth of time.

For stakeholders, the visibility of incremental progress is huge. It allows them (as well as the entire team) to feel more involved. Everyone is able to collaborate and witness the product’s evolution.  
Learn more about how to be an effective Scrum Master with our online Master of Project Management program.