The Scrum Process Explained

Alasdair Macleod - Scrum Process explained
“Believe in the importance of learning not only the what’s of Scrum but the how’s of quality software engineering.
The Basics

Within the scrum process, there are eleven basic elements that make up the framework. 3 roles, 3 artifacts, and 5 events. Practitioners need to learn to apply and understand the principles behind these in order to obtain the full benefits of the scrum process. As well as its implementation. The scrum process is often termed as a rinse and repeat process. It is only the 4 inspect & adapt events within the main container event called a sprint that is really repeated.  They each inspect and adapt the artifacts as part of the delivery as well as the practices of the scrum team in the actual implementation of Scrum including the engineering practices being applied in delivery.

While working in sprints it is important to ensure the artifacts in scrum are being managed by the roles responsible for ownership of each artifact. It is also important to ensure that the events within the sprint deliver the intended value to the scrum process.  If no one owns and refines the Product Backlog, then it becomes harder to forecast what might be worked on next, as well as which items to focus on for refinement.  It is through the Product Owner providing the vision of the product and ordering the Product Backlog Items, that the Development Team can then clearly see which items require to be refined. This allows transparency over what needs to be completed in each item for it to be considered done.

Visualizing completed work

If the Development Team does not visualize the progress of work in the Sprint Backlog, then they will find themselves regularly being interrupted by the Product Owner to understand if the work is likely to be completed prior to the sprint review.  One way of doing this has been to use a Sprint Burndown Chart, however, this can be improved upon by using a Scrum Kanban board showing which items of work have been completed or even a dashboard showing which items have met the defined acceptance tests and are considered done.

Involvement of the Product Owner

The Increment itself as a product should not just be dumped into the market as a release and forgotten about.   The Product Owner as part of the scrum process should actively manage the feedback from users on each release, then use this feedback to update the product vision through the prioritization of subsequent work in the Product Backlog. This includes updates or maintenance to existing features that have been released.

Through this active ownership of the artifacts, it makes the events within the scrum process more fruitful.  By ensuring the development team is using up to 10% of their time refining the Product Backlog then Sprint Planning will be more effective. Items will be understood and misunderstandings related to the product backlog items will already have been discussed and cleared up.  The active involvement of the product owner in user-centered, research and experience aspects of the product will give clarity. The product owner can then identify areas to focus on that will deliver the best value from the product. In turn, this will better inform them for discussions during the sprint reviews.

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