Undoubtedly, there is no lack of information about Scrum and how it should be used. Articles, to do lists, mistakes, user cases and anything else you might think of can be reached in minutes. However, when you are just coming into a new approach and learning its ways, you will most likely have certain questions and struggle to find the answers.
To help you out in this situation, here are the most common questions new users have about Scrum and their answers.
Is Scrum Agile?
This is one of the most frequent questions from new practitioners and one that cannot be answered with a single yes or no. Scrum is part of the Agile family, as it is one of the frameworks used to realize Agile rules and principles in real life projects. Other Agile applications, such as Kanban, XP and others are simply other frameworks used to bring Agile values to life. So yes, Scrum is Agile but Agile is not just Scrum, it is much more.
Should I choose Scrum?
Scrum best serves the projects with unclear details and specifications, ones with high risk of mid-project changes, where there is a need to monitor the value of completed tasks throughout and where teams need autonomy and creativity to produce the best results.
With Scrum your team will:
- Deliver the main value quicker
- Have a bigger chance of meeting the deadline
- Create the product for less
- Be more motivated
- Collaborate better
- Be more innovative and listen to client requirements more carefully
What should be the size of a Scrum team?
There is no singular number that could be provided for this question, but a good rule of thumb is that one pizza should be enough to eat for the whole team. Most Scrum teams vary from 5 to 8 people rarely climbing over 10, as it gets more complicated to run and less effective as the number of people on the team grows. Do not be afraid to make smaller more focused teams from larger units and test them out.
Can one person be the Product Owner and the Scrum Master?
No. The two roles have a significantly different parts in the team routine and thus have to be performed by two different people. The Product Owners’ main focus is on the product and where it is going, they have to not only guide the team, but also inspire them to build the future they see. A Scrum Master, on the other hand, is focused on the correct and effective application of Scrum within the team. They are there to guide the application and help ensure the process goes smoothly. Having to perform both these roles would not only be very hard, but would also inevitably lead to conflict, where one role would prevail over the other one.
How do the tasks get assigned to team members?
The team works together to identify and evaluate the tasks necessary for each user story. Once the sprint starts, each team member takes on the tasks they are comfortable in completing according to the priority. Therefore the team assigns tasks to themselves.
What is Backlog?
There are two types of backlogs in Scrum.
- Product backlog contains all the user stories in prioritized order and thus is an overall project plan. It is managed by the Product Owner and the Team and constantly updated to make sure items of the most value at any moment are prioritized. The team takes items from this backlog to plan their Sprints.
- The second type of Backlog is the Sprint Backlog. Here the selected items for each Sprint are divided into clear tasks and the team creates a plan on how to complete them. Contrary to the first backlog, this one is used only by the team and is a clear reflection of their progress.
How is the Backlog prioritized?
The most important tasks (most likely ones coming from the highest priority user stories) are put on top of the list, while the less important ones are put on the bottom. This way the team completes the tasks with most value first and makes sure they are up to par, moving onto others only as time allows.
What are Story Points and how many should be in one Sprint?
Story points is a metric used to evaluate the difficulty of each task. It is used to replace estimating by time, as it allows to think more critically and estimate based on the task difficulty instead of duration. Usually the team selects the smallest task, assigns that task one story point and then evaluates the rest of the tasks accordingly.
There is no certain number of story points team has to have in one Sprint. But knowing how many story points the team has completed in the last few Sprints allows to calculate velocity and plan for the next iteration more realistically.
What is team velocity and how is it used?
Team velocity is one of the key metrics in Scrum. At the end of each Sprint the team adds up the story points of all completed tasks and the resulting number is team velocity that can be used to estimate how much work the team will be able to complete in the next Sprint. Monitoring team velocity over a period of time is not only great for estimations, but can also be used to indicate any troubles or issues the team is facing.
When should I not choose Scrum?
Scrum application can be complicated in large teams or those very attached to the traditional process. It will also not be a good fit for those that expect a light and quick change into better results. Otherwise, it simply takes determination and will to take on the process and adapt it to your needs.