Agile Project Management Frameworks–Scrum

In John Stenbeck’s PMI-ACP Exam Prep PLUS Desk Reference, he exhaustively lists the various agile project management frameworks in chapter 2 “Introducing Agile Project Management”.

This post will cover the very basics of the Scrum approach which is the dominant approach in Agile Project Management right now.

1.  Scrum History

  • 1986–Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka write The new new product development game in Harvard Business Review, 64(1), 137-146, describing a holistic or “rugby” approach of having one cross-functional team moving through overlapping phases “passing the ball back and forth” as it were, similar to what happens in a rugby scrum.
  • 1991–Peter DeGrace and Leslie Stahl first refer to this approach explicitly as the “Scrum approach” in their book Wicked problems, righteous solutions:  A catalogue of modern software engineering paradigms (New York: Prentice Hall).
  • 1993–Jeff Sutherland, John Scumniotales and Jeff McKenna refer to this approach using the single word “Scrum” in the approach they developed at the Easel Corporation.
  • 1995–Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber collaborate in writing, sharing experiences and suggesting industry best practices, creating the first public presentation of Scrum.

2.  Scrum framework definition

Scrum is a project management framework that uses

  • iterative cycles and
  • incremental deliverables

to develop solutions.

3.  Scrum ethos–mutual commitments between the organization and the team

The organization agrees on the stability of

  • the size of the timebox for all sprints (iterations)–usually two or four weeks in length
  • specific deliverables for each sprint

This commitment creates a stable work environment which allows the team to focus on the work uninterrupted.    The team, on the other hand, commits to

  • delivering the specific deliverables at the end of the sprint regardless of challenges that may occur

by promising to be as creative as necessary to solve problems.

4.  Scrum roles

    • Scrum Master (SM)–ensures the process is understood and followed, removes impediments in the form of outside interference for the team
    • Product Owner (PO)–also known as the “voice of the customer”, represents the stakeholders and the business, and sets the priorities for deliverables
    • Team–cross-functional group which implements solutions to create deliverables

5.  Scrum key principle

Customers need to be able to change their minds about requirements.   This flexibility allows solutions to complex problems to emerge through a process which provides transparency, inspection and adaptation towards a solution which satisfies the emerging customer’s requirements.

According to John Stenbeck, 75% of organizations using agile use the Scrum approach–this is why he has synthesized a review of the specific Scrum framework and the general Agile PM framework in his “PMI-ACP Exam Plus PLUS Desk Reference”, the PLUS being the material on Scrum.

In the next post, I will describe Extreme Programming (XP), second to Scrum in terms of its adoption rate and marketplace usage.


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