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Learn the basics of the Scrum framework in under 5 minutes

October 22, 2023


Learn scrum basics in under 5 minutes

Scrum is a popular project management framework based on the core values of Agile as described in the Agile Manifesto. In a nutshell, Scrum prescribes an iterative approach to project planning, which helps to deal with complexity on projects such as technical projects or creative projects.

As a refresher, Agile prescribes the following core values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation

  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  4. Responding to change over following a plan

An Agile framework is based on Agile core values, but has its own terminology, rules, and guidelines for adhering to these core values. In the case of Scrum, it’s based on 3 main pillars as follows:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

Let’s take a closer look at each of these pillars in the next sections.


Transparency in Scrum means being transparent between team members and with the customer. To be transparent, we must be honest and forthcoming with each other, and also make information visible to all stakeholders. We must create an environment that fosters open and honest dialog where people feel safe. Additionally, team members must have a sense of personal accountability and shared responsibility in order to achieve full transparency.


Inspection, as it relates to Scrum, is based on the concept of continuous improvement and applies to the product, processes, people, and tools. At the end of each Sprint, the team transparently demonstrates the product increment to the customer to gather valuable feedback. This feedback loop allows the customer to inspect the product and prioritize user stories for the next iteration. The team should not perceive customer changes to requirements negatively, but rather embrace change as an opportunity to better provide value to the customer.


In Scrum, the ability to respond to change and deliver value-based increments to the customer based on customer feedback is referred to as Adaptation. It also refers to the adaptation of people, processes, and tools to maximize value for the customer. The purpose of adaptation is to lead to increased value such as increasing quality, improving velocity, lowering costs, etc. Adaption is rooted in the idea of continuous improvement.

Scrum Roles

Scrum prescribes 3 roles as part of a Scrum team:

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master
  • Team Member

Let’s briefly take a look at each role.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is responsible for representing the customer as well as refining and prioritizing user stories in the Product Backlog. This means the Product Owner must regularly update user stories and priority to reflect customer feedback.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is responsible for coaching the Scrum Team on Scrum and helping to remove impediments.

Development Team

Development Team members are those who are performing the work to build the product. Development Team members should ideally be multi-disciplinary and the team should either possess or able to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the project work.

Scrum Ceremonies

In the Scrum framework, there are 5 Ceremonies prescribed. These Ceremonies are as follows:

  • Backlog Grooming (a.k.a. Backlog Refinement)
  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Standup
  • Sprint Review (Sprint Demonstration)
  • Sprint Retrospective

Let’s take a look at each in more detail.

Backlog Grooming

Backlog Grooming is performed by the Product Owner using the feedback from the Customer and the Team Members. Based on the Customer’s feedback, the Product Owner will create or update User Stories in the Product Backlog. The Product Owner will then typically meet periodically with the Team Members to refine the User Stories, gather estimates, and define Tasks. Backlog Grooming is typically done before Sprint Planning so that the User Stories are ready to be selected for the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning involves the Product Owner and the Team Members meeting to plan for the upcoming Sprint. As part of Sprint Planning, the Sprint Goal is collaboratively defined. The Team Members will then select User Stories starting from the top of the Product Backlog and commit to completing them in the upcoming Sprint. These selected backlog items are collectively referred to as the Sprint Backlog.

Daily Standup

Daily Standup meetings are held at the beginning of each work day. The purpose of the meeting is to both allow Team Members to stay informed on the team’s progress, flag any issues, and hold each other accountable. As the name suggests, attendees should remain standing to avoid lengthy meetings. The meeting is typically time-boxed to 15 minutes and any issues flagged by team members should be addressed immediately after the standup meeting, not during the meeting. At each Daily Standup, each member will answer 3 questions:

  1. What did you work on yesterday?
  2. What are you working on today?
  3. What, if anything, is blocking your progress?

Sprint Review

The Sprint Review is an informal meeting held at the end of each sprint, where the Development Team demonstrates what was accomplished. It is also an opportunity for the customer and other stakeholders to provide feedback.

Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Retrospective is a recurring meeting dedicated to discussing what went well and what can be improved for future sprints. It’s typically held at the end of a Sprint, often immediately after the Sprint Review, and serves as a collaborative session where everyone can reflect and find ways to be more efficient and effective.

Scrum Artifacts

There are 3 main Artifacts produced from the Scrum framework as follows:

  • Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Product Increment

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is the prioritized list of user stories maintained by the Product Owner.

Sprint Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is the list of user stories selected by the Development Team Members from the Product Backlog to be completed in the current Sprint. The Sprint Backlog is selected during the Sprint Planning ceremony.

Product Increment

The Product Increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint. It’s important to note that a Product Increment must be “potentially releasable.” In Scrum, value is only in working software. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

As previously discussed, Scrum offers a superior advantage over Waterfall in terms of its ability to respond and adapt to change. However, there are also other notable advantages that Scrum offers over Waterfall as follows:

  • Easier to deal with complexity
  • Higher user satisfaction
  • Improved quality
  • Faster delivery of value to customer
  • Lower costs
  • Higher employee engagement and motivation
  • Higher productivity

As with many other things in life, there can also be some disadvantages when using Scrum. Here are some potential trade-offs that you should be aware of:

  • Customers may not feel comfortable with Scrum as scope is variable whereas Waterfall offers fixed scope. Additionally legal agreements are typically different from those used in Waterfall. It can sometimes be difficult to convey the benefits of Scrum
  • Can be difficult to convince your team as well as management to adopt the new methodology as this may require changes to hierarchy, processes, tools, mindset, and may require additional training
  • It can be difficult to scale Scrum with larger teams. Recommended size for Scrum teams is 3-9 people
  • It can require significant training to be implemented successfully


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