Scrum has become one of the most popular Agile methodologies used for software and product development. Various factors have contributed to this popularity. The methodology works very well with complex projects where requirements change often and/or the technology is new and not used before. How does Scrum do this? What supports this framework?
Scrum is rooted in values through its various principles. One of the most important principles of this Agile framework is Empirical Process Control which is based on the ideas of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Detailed upfront planning takes a backseat as decisions made are based on observation and experimentation. Let’s examine the ideas behind Empirical Process Control.
All aspects of every Scrum process are observable by all stakeholders contributing to an open work culture. Scrum Artifacts like Project Vision Statement, Prioritized Product Backlog, and Release Planning Schedule are visible to all. Scrumboards and Burndown Charts are accessible easily to gauge the progress of the Development team. Tools like the Daily Standup Meetings make the progress and problems in the project transparent. At the end of every Sprint, the Product Owner and Stakeholders view the Sprint deliverables developed by the Development team. All of these tools and mechanisms support Empirical Process Control through a great deal of transparency.
Inspection and adaptation occurs throughout the Development process using Scrum. Elements are inspected during the Sprints through meetings and artifacts. Feedback is collected from end users and affected parties for the improvement of the product. The deliverables are inspected at the end by the Product Owner/Stakeholders through the demonstration by the Development team. All elements inspected, made possible through a transparent mechanism, are then improved through effective adaptation. Impediments are removed on a daily basis, risks are identified as the project moves along, change requests are incorporated as deemed fit. All of these ideas come together to make Empirical Process Control a highly effective way of software/product development.
The other five principles of Scrum are Self-organization, Collaboration, Value-based Prioritization, Time-boxing, and Iterative Development. All of these principles work cohesively to bring out major benefits from Scrum. As mentioned earlier, there is a continuous stream of feedback leading to improvements. Thus, value is delivered continuously through iterative processes which are designed for people to maintain a sustainable pace. There is also early delivery of high value. This is carried out through the “Create Prioritized Product Backlog” process which makes sure that the items which possess the highest value for the customer are developed and delivered first.
Time-boxing in Scrum leads to greater levels of efficiency. Most elements which are not required are eliminated or minimized which adds to the effective functioning of the team. Members of the Development team are highly motivated through processes like Conduct Daily Standup and Retrospect Sprint. Needless to say when teams are highly motivated they perform very well. There is a lot of collaboration among the cross-functional self-organized team members which results in faster problem resolution which is ideal for complex projects.
Further, a customer-centric framework is built by the special stress laid on business value and a collaborative approach towards stakeholders. Owing to better transparency and collaboration, employees experience and enjoy elevated levels of trust in the work environment, which contributes to their productivity. A collective ownership of a project by a self-organizing Scrum team allows for improved quality results. The collaboration is conducive to the achievement of near full potential of the cross-functional team and increased velocity.
All these value-based principles of Scrum generate factors that create an innovative environment of continuous learning. With all these benefits of Scrum it becomes evident why the framework is popular in software/ product development.