What is a scrum? (The Software Engineer Edition)
Software development terminology can seem overwhelming if you’re figuring out how to build a tech team, structure a tech team or simply be a successful member of one. Scrum is a methodology used by tech teams to manage and tackle complex projects.
As well as being an efficient method to approach tasks with, scrum encourages teams to self-organise, learn on the go and to learn directly from experience. The core action of planning, sprinting, executing and reflecting means that scrum also encourages teams to learn continuously and develop their approach with each new project.
Who Can Use The Scrum Methodology?
Scrum can be used across various industries but is particularly useful within tech teams and the tech industry. There are alternatives to scrum like the Waterfall methodology or the Japanese originated Kanban, but today, we’re focused on scrum and what it can do for your tech team.
Scrum is a type of methodology used to structure how a team functions. These methods provide efficiency within a team and help a team to navigate through a project. Whether it’s a marketing team or tech team, scrum can be applied across pretty much any team that work on multiple projects or projects that need continuous development.
What Are Scrum Roles and Responsibilities?
What’s a scrum master? What skills does a scrum master need? Although seemingly self-explanatory, a scrum master must wear many hats. The main objectives a scrum master should achieve are to define and brief the team on releases, be the point of contact for any dependencies external or internal and to also coordinate the daily scrums.
A scrum master should be able to communicate with and update other involved teams on the delivery and product status as well as report this progress in meetings and share the information with stakeholders.
Scrum masters are also expected to be able to recognize and share RIDAs (risks. Impediments, dependencies and assumptions) with stakeholders, delegate and negotiate priorities, manage funding, scope and the schedule.
What’s the role of a product owner in scrum? The product manager is responsible for overseeing the dev team. The product owner owns the management of the product back log.
The product owner represents the desires of the customer and is the main point of contact for the customer story backlog. It’s up to the product owner to maximize value of the product using data from customer-based sources and communicate and manage those values throughout a project.
Where does the dev team come in scrum methodology? The development team of a scrum each have their areas of expertise and are mainly responsible for the development of a product especially during the execution phase of a sprint.
You could say that the development team are the ones ‘on the ground’ and hands on. They’re the ones creating the product itself, building and making sure their actions meet the criteria set and agreed in the planning phase of scrum.
How Does Scrum Methodology Work?
1. Product Backlog Creation
There are four stages to the creation of a product backlog. The reviewing of collated information and ideas brought to you by stakeholders is the first step. You’ll then need to get clarification, make sure you understand all the requirements for the developments you’ll be implementing during a sprint.
The next two steps include structuring the elements you’re going to be implementing by prioritising each part of the process. Then, finally, you need to keep on top of updating your backlog throughout to make sure your team are constantly up to scratch on the latest releases and developments.
2. Sprint Planning
Sprint planning involves the entire scrum team getting together to plan the execution of the build of backlog tasks.
During the planning of a sprint, your team will determine factors such as velocity and capacity. I.e. how many stories you can to cover and build from. You’ll also usually plan out a detailed timeline for your approach.
The sprint is the hands-on part of a scrum. Each sprint is set within a dedicated time frame and each developer should feel confident that they can achieve the solution within that time frame. Usually, daily scrums are implemented during a sprint to ensure the whole team is on track with the schedule. Daily scrums are also a good chance for devs or other team members to raise questions or concerns with the scrum master and product owner.
4. Testing & Demos
This part is pretty self-explanatory but is definitely one of the most important aspects of a successful scrum. Testing the solutions that have been developed creates learning experiences as well as improved solutions.
What happens during the retrospective phase of scrum methodology? The team will get together and the scrum master will lead the retrospective session.
The retrospective part of a scrum will help the team improve their approach towards the next sprint and healthily critisise their work in the previous one.
What Challenges Do You Face Using Scrum Methodology?
Developers Based Remotely
Although widely considered more convenient and encouraging of a healthy work/life balance, remote working can present challenges. When building your team, select the correct methodology to suit your teams’ needs. If your team is remote-first, there is only so much technology can do to connect team members, so selecting the right working methods are key.
Scrum is an agile framework which works best when the communication is done face to face. If your remote situation is temporary, you might manage with platforms like Slack or Teams, but you should consider a reshuffle away from scrum methodology and find a more suitable way of working if your team looks like it’s staying remote.
Specialist Developer Skills
Although having a team with specialist skills is (obviously) a benefit to any manager or tech leader, when leading a scrum, you should look out for team members who can address and communicate across varying areas of the organization and not just stick to one specialism.
It sounds like a pretty obvious piece of advice but, as we’ve mentioned, communication is the most vital aspect in scrum. When your team are experts in their niches but aren’t able to understand everything that’s being said in daily scrum, your team’s flexibility will deteriorate – not ideal when using scrum methodology!
Too Many Dependencies
In scrum, the product development takes planning and testing. This testing is often done through external users and other teams. Overloading your testing phase with too many dependencies can cause delays and even lead to the failure of future sprints.
Successfully Implementing Scrum Summary
· Take care building, selecting and collating your product backlog.
· Brief the team and make and make sure everyone understands the product backlog
· Guide the team on what to deliver next
· Remember to encourage commitment, focus, openness and respect
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