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What Is Scrum?

What Is Scrum?

If you're ready to pursue your career in software development, there's no question that knowing about Scrum will help you stand out as a strong job candidate. When you understand Scrum, you rely a lot more on teamwork and how developers interact with each other on group projects.

We've put together this video and quick guide to Scrum to help you understand more about it.

Scrum and Agile

If you've heard of Scrum before, chances are that it was in connection with Agile software development. But what do we mean when we talk about Scrum as opposed to Agile?

Scrum is a software development framework that incorporates Agile values and principles. And, while Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies out there, it's not the only one.

In short, all Scrum projects incorporate Agile philosophy, but not all Agile projects necessarily use the Scrum methodology.

Anatomy of a Scrum project

Now that you understand the relationship between Scrum and Agile, let's explore the main components of a Sprint project.

The sprint

A sprint is one of the central parts of a Scrum project. In short, a sprint is a short period of time — typically two weeks, but can also last anywhere from one week to a month — in which a software development team accomplishes a planned list of updates, improvements, and new features.

In keeping with the Agile philosophy, sprints are designed to result in gradual, iterative updates to the software rather than large-scale changes.

The tasks to be accomplished in each sprint are taken from the product backlog and refined into a sprint backlog. But, with Scrum, nothing is ever set in stone. Both the sprint backlog and product backlog can change at any time based on changing business needs, competitor activity, and other external factors.

The product backlog

When a development team decides to create software using the Scrum methodology, it's understood that the first product release won't be perfect. Any software features that need to be updated, improved, added, or removed get recorded in the product backlog.

Think of the backlog as a giant software to-do list. Every task in the backlog is assigned a priority, but it's not expected that the dev team will get to everything at once. Instead, items from the product backlog are reviewed and funneled into sprint backlogs.

The sprint backlog

The sprint backlog is a list of tasks that a software development team commits to accomplishing within one sprint. The specific tasks that make it into the next sprint backlog depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Customer demand for specific features and improvements
  • Urgent technical issues that are negatively affecting how people use the app
  • Features and improvements that advance the company's business strategies
  • What the development team can realistically accomplish within the sprint timeframe

The product increment

The result of a successful sprint is a new software version that contains all of the promised updates and features in the sprint backlog. This new software version is also known as the product increment.

When sprint teams are transparent with each other during the sprint planning phase, there's a much better chance of a successful sprint and, more importantly, a successful software product.

The Scrum team

A successful Scrum project needs a successful team to make it happen. The three critical Scrum roles in that team are the product owner, the developer(s), and the Scrum master.

The product owner

It's easy to agree that the customer should guide app development, but what exactly does the customer want? The Scrum product owner is basically responsible for figuring this out.

The product owner understands the needs and demands of the people who are using the app or software. They communicate this through the product backlog.

One of the product owner's biggest responsibilities is to organize and prioritize the product backlog as well as the sprint backlogs based on the company's business objectives and overall strategy.

Product owners typically have a solid background in marketing, product management, and business development. They spend a lot of their time understanding the competitive landscape and market trends to help the development team create a commercially successful software product.

The developer(s)

Whether your skills are in Front-End Development, Back-End Development, or Full-Stack Development, this is where you come into the Scrum project. The developer or development team is responsible for turning the product owner's backlog wish list into a reality.

Before starting a sprint, the developers work closely with the product owner to determine whether the business requirements are realistic and how long it will take to complete them.

The Scrum master

With the product owner focused on commercial success and the development team focused on writing code, who's around to check that everyone is sticking to the Scrum principles? That's what the Scrum master is for.

Along with making sure that everyone is staying "Scrummy," the Scrum master acts as a team motivator during sprints. In the middle of a sprint with a tight deadline and changing requirements, it's up to the Scrum master to keep everyone working at full capacity on the appropriate goals.

Scrum ceremonies

As you might imagine, Scrum involves a lot of communication. In fact, Scrum has a special name for planned meetings throughout the project: ceremonies. There are different types of Scrum ceremonies, and each one has a different purpose:

  • Backlog refinement to determine what the development team should accomplish and in what priority.
  • Sprint planning to review goals, schedule what the development team will do in the next sprint, and determine the sprint duration.
  • The daily standup, a meeting in which everyone reviews what happened the previous day and what the current day's tasks are.
  • Sprint review to assess the results of the sprint and confirm that the new product meets the goals and requirements set in the sprint backlog.
  • The retrospective, a "lessons learned" review of the last sprint to determine how people felt during the sprint, what went well, and what should be improved for the next sprint.

How to become a Scrum developer

Now that you understand the basics of Scrum, remember that being part of any software development team means having the most up-to-date skills and knowledge on various programming languages.

This includes front-end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, back-end languages like PHP, SQL, and Python, and many more. If you're unsure which skills you should be focusing on next, our Career Paths will help you learn all the skills you'll need to succeed as a new developer.


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