Understanding the Basics of Scrum, Part 1

Chris HolmokIn a previous post I talked about different development processes.
In today’s post I am going to focus on one in particular, Scrum. It is growing in popularity, and used by many companies (including us here at Knotice). Scrum is an increment process for developing software. The best way to break it down is to cover the basics of Scrum, which can be separated into roles, tasks, and events. I’ll cover these basics in the next two posts, starting with the roles and tasks of Scrum.

The people that are involved in the Scrum process can be placed into two groups, according to the fable of The Chicken and The Pig. Pigs are committed to the process, and are made up of the following roles:

  • Product Owner: The product owner is the voice of the customer. They write high-level user-stories and set priorities. They are the business mind of process.
  • ScrumMaster: The ScrumMaster is the facilitator. They remove impediments and make sure that everyone is following the rules of the Scrum process. They are NOT a team leader or project manager. They are not in charge of the team, only an enforcer of the process.
  • Team: The team delivers the product. But, the team does not have to be all developers. They can also be designers, QA, technical writers or whoever is needed to deliver the product. Generally, the size should range from 5-9 people.

The chickens are not as fully committed to the actual process. But, chickens need to be considered in the process because they are made up of the following roles: users, customers, vendors, and managers.

The tasks in Scrum fall into one of two categories:

  • Product Backlog: A product backlog is a list of high level user stories like, “Customers need to be able to edit all information on a purchase order before submitting it.” These are prioritized by their business value and ROI by the product owner. So, if two items that have the same business value, but one will take less time to deliver, then the one with the shorter delivery time will have higher priority.
  • Sprint Backlog: The Sprint backlog is the list of detailed tasks that are committed to be delivered in the current iteration, called a sprint. The items on this list are broken down into tasks that the team understands, and they usually don’t take longer than two days to complete. For example, “Add text boxes to the preview purchase order web page that updates the purchase order.” Items on the Sprint Backlog are not assigned, they are picked by team members.

In my next post, I’ll take a look at how the events of Scrum are broken down and the task board.

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