The Core Principles of Scrum

David Tzemach

Posted On: December 20, 2022

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The Core Principles of Scrum

Scrum at a Glance

Scrum is a favorite Agile framework of mine. Scrum is something I utilize as a starting point for Agile adoption. Scrum is a popular Agile framework for organizing software projects. The Scrum framework includes a set of roles, events, and artifacts for delivering products with the best business value feasible. Scrum values teamwork, transparency, responsibility, and self-organization. It enables people to address difficult problems linked to software development project activities.

What Is the Meaning of “Scrum”?

The term “Scrum” derives from rugby, a team sport in which the human sprint is critical to the team’s success. The Scrum framework is similar in that creating a cohesive team that works happily and collaboratively boosts the team’s efficiency. This contrasts with a group of people that are solely concerned with their own (limited) success.

What Sets Scrum Apart from Other Frameworks?

There are a few excellent Agile frameworks that make significant contributions to our industry. Scrum differs from other Agile frameworks in that it is particularly easy, flexible, and, most importantly, produces real value to both the business and the customer. As an example:

  • Collaboration and communication – The Scrum framework includes a few events that promote communication among project stakeholders such as development teams, customers, and senior management.
  • True agility – The key benefit of Scrum is that it enables organizations to manage projects with the capacity to alter them as requirements change, without adding substantial risks that could damage the client.
  • Roles and responsibilities (R&R) – Scrum has three key project roles: Product Owner (PO), Scrum Master (SM), and the development team. Scrum eliminates bureaucracy and time in project decisions by utilizing only three roles.

When Is Scrum ineffective?

Scrum is an effective method for managing software development. Scrum, on the other hand, can be less efficient when there is no positive atmosphere to support it, as in:

In a government-regulated project with defined deadlines and no option to adjust the scope.

  • The organization is unwilling to alter its current structure.
  • The organization is unwilling to alter its culture.
  • The organization’s expectations of the transformation process are unrealistic.
  • No automated frameworks exist to enable short development cycles.

Scrum’s Fundamental Principles

Scrum is based on six core principles that make it the most common, successfully implemented framework.

Principle 1: Self-organized & Cross-functional teams

According to the Scrum framework, “Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional.” These two factors are crucial in an Agile setting because they serve as the foundation for a successful team that can:

  • Work as a team without being directed by outside stakeholders.
  • Have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and means to achieve their objectives.
  • Handle difficult tasks with harmony, flexibility, and innovation.

Principle 2: Empirical process control

Scrum employs empirical process control, which is based on a project’s real-world progress rather than estimates or long-term forecasts utilized in traditional techniques. Project decisions are decided based on observations and experiments rather than comprehensive advance planning when employing empirical process control. This principle is supported by three pillars:

Pillar 1: Adaptation

This is the final step in empirical process control. It occurs as a result of the organization’s learning through continual improvement. Scrum does this through retrospectives, continuous risk assessments, and detailed change requests.

Pillar 2: Transparency

Allows stakeholders to see the project details without making any assumptions. This encourages the flow of information throughout the business and fosters an open culture in which all work activities are visible to anyone. Scrum enables this through many methodologies such as prioritized product backlogs, burndown charts, daily meetings, and so on.

Pillar 3: Inspection

Within the Scrum framework this is achieved by:

  • Specific metrics that would provide crucial data about the project’s overall progress (e.g., quality KPIs, team velocity).
  • Ongoing feedback loops from customers and other stakeholders across development cycles.
  • The Product Owner reviews and approves team outputs.

Principle 3: Constant feedback

The Scum Framework relies heavily on the continuous feedback process. Because there is less upfront planning to lead the team throughout the project development life cycle, this is the case. Instead, the team relies on continuous input to comprehend and adapt to developments while keeping the project on schedule. The framework provides an excellent platform for enabling continuous feedback loops using events (review, retrospective, etc.) and artifacts (product and Sprint backlogs, burn-down charts, etc.).

  • Sprint review – During this meeting, the team shares sprint outcomes and receives feedback on the quality of the work from the PO or client. This feedback is then converted into new product backlog items that will aid in the development of a quality product.
  • Sprint burn-down chart – The release burn-down chart gives useful information about the remaining and completed work at any given time.

Principle 4: Iterative approach for delivering rapid releases

Teams should employ development sprints that run between a week and a month, according to the methodology. Each Sprint is divided into four phases by a Scrum team. These are as follows:

Phase 1 – Sprint kick-off

Every Sprint starts with a planning meeting that includes the whole Scrum team (development, SM and PO). The following are the meeting’s outcomes:

  • A sprint backlog with a list of prioritized stories.
  • Created a task list for each tale to guide development activities.
  • A clear statement of the Sprint objective.

Phase 2 – Sprint Execution

By researching, developing, and testing, the team works as a cohesive unit to fulfill the stories they committed to completing. These are required in practically every story. Using these activities, the team can guarantee that each story meets the Definition of Done (DoD) and that the sprint objective set at the start of the sprint is met.

Phase 3 – Ongoing feedback based on sprint outcomes

The team shows the possibly shippable product increment to the key stakeholders at the end of each sprint (Product Owner, customer etc.). They will receive comments and approval for the excellence of their work. This feedback will be incorporated into the upcoming sprints.

Phase 4 – Ongoing improvement

Finally, the team holds a retrospective meeting. They review how things went, adjustments needed in future sprints, and the primary constraints keeping them from flourishing at this discussion.

Principle 5: Consistent customer value through prioritization

Scrum, as an Agile model, places the client at the center of the process. As a result, throughout the project, Scrum teams should present deliverables to the customer at the end of each development sprint. The deliverables must be based on backlog prioritizing of customer requirements (directed by the Product Owner). This allows the team to provide the most value to the consumer.

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” (Agile Manifesto)

Principle 6: Timeboxing to increase predictability

Because Agile projects require little forward preparation, they are more adaptable to changes but less predictable. To attain high productivity, the project must follow a consistent schedule with short repeatable time-boxes.

A “time-box” is an agreed-upon and limited time period in which a person or team performs a specific function. They work to complete a goal within the time frame that has been agreed upon and defined. If the time limit expires without completing all the needed activities, the decision on how to proceed is based on the time-box approach (soft vs hard).

Consider an Agile project with 100 units of effort that the team must complete. Every two weeks, the team completes five units (The time-box of the sprint). Knowing these fundamental elements allows the organization to forecast project completion using a simple calculation of time boxing/velocity = twenty Sprints.

What is the distinction between “soft” and “hard” timeboxing?

There are two techniques to dealing with unfinished work at the end of a time limit.

  1. Soft time-boxing – When the time allotted expires, the SM decides whether to continue and allots the time for it.
  2. Hard time constraints – once the time limit is reached, there is no space for debate, and the team must stop working regardless of the danger to the remaining work.

Timeboxing is used to handle Scrum events.

Each Scrum event has its own time limit. This keeps the team focused on the meeting agenda rather than wasting time on unrelated conversations. The following are some examples of Scrum

  1. Daily Scrum meeting – This meeting lasts 15 minutes every 24 hours.
  2. Sprint planning – is limited to two hours every one-week sprint and can be expanded to eight hours per one-month sprint.
  3. Sprint review – Each one-week sprint is allotted one hour, which can be increased to four hours for a one-month sprint.
  4. Sprint retrospectives – These meetings are 45 minutes long for a one-week sprint and can last up to three hours for a one-month sprint.

How time-boxing contributes to your project

There is no doubt that time-boxing in Agile projects is important. In addition, the use of time-boxing can also contribute to the following:

  • Increases team focus – Because each task has a time restriction, the team understands that there is no time to waste on extraneous activities that may jeopardize their ability to meet deadlines.
  • Safeguards the Team – Using time-boxing allows the team to accept only the amount of work that they can truly deliver without jeopardizing their ability to succeed.
  • Clarifies progress – the use of time-boxing allows companies to monitor the team’s progress throughout the Sprint. This is accomplished by routinely assessing previously completed work and comparing it to the original estimates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 5 principles of Scrum?

The five important principles of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect are essential to the success of a team’s Scrum implementation.

What are the 3 pillars of Scrum?

Scrum is built upon three fundamental pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What are the 4 parts of Scrum?

Scrum consists of four essential elements: the development team, the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Scrum Team, which includes stakeholders.

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David Tzemach

The founder and owner of the Agile Quality Made Easy blog (25K followers). A platform that he uses for teaching and coaching others, sharing knowledge with people, and guiding them towards success while giving them the inspiration and tools to discover their own path.

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