If you’ve ever worked in software or web development odds are that you’ve heard the word scrum thrown around a couple hundred times. Whether you use it or not, you know it exists and you know someone who is on an Agile/Scrum development team who has a lot of opinions about it. I understand that not all of our blog readers have worked in software or web development, so it might seem like I’m talking in another language, or about rugby at the very least.
Let’s take a step back. What is Scrum? Scrum is a software life cycle methodology that development teams use to plan projects in small chunks. In Scrum the development team works as, well, a team. Projects are broken down into “stories,” which are then put through an estimation process by the team. The goal of the estimation process is to get everyone on the team to agree about the workload – “points” of the story, which is then planned into a “sprint” – a cycle where the development team attempts to complete all of the stories planned into it based on the average number of points the team has been able to complete in past sprints.
The ultimate goal of Agile/Scrum development is to deliver features in pieces that people can actually test and use in smaller pieces that build on top of each other. It differs from the traditional school of thought, waterfall development, which is basically like shooting in the dark at moving targets as the floor gives way beneath your feet. Imagine having a big project that has so many technical specifications and functional requirements that the scope of work is 170 pages long and the projected timeline is 6-8 months before completion. Needless to say, waterfall development leads to complications because everything was written and scoped out up front, making it difficult for teams to adapt when something doesn’t go according to plan.
Scrum is more than just breaking large projects into smaller ones. It is essentially a push-and-pull relationship between development and marketing. This epic battle is fought between the Scrum Master who is in charge of maintaining the scrum process and ensuring that the development team swallows the work they bite off, and the Product Owner (yours truly), who constantly attempts to force work into the sprint. Eventually a duel occurs between the two of us. Dave usually wins, because the points don’t lie.
So that’s scrum. We use it here at Name.com, and we’re getting pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself. If you’re in the world of web or software development I recommend at least giving Scrum a chance. You can find out more about it by watching this video.