What is Scrum?

Scrum is an innovative framework that brings together the core elements of good teamwork. Scrum is particularly suitable for developing solutions to complex problems. Scrum is often used to manage projects.

Scrum is a framework for creating adaptive solutions to complex problems

Scrum is particularly useful when developing a product or service, working in a team, and when tasks are complex. By "complex" is meant: there are surprises. Scrum therefore follows an iterative, incremental and empirical approach. This means: with Scrum, a team delivers a solution piece by piece. In this way, continuous progress is achieved, decisions are based on experience gained, and changes flow into a development in a controlled manner.

Scrum is good for development - and good for projects

Projects are by definition one-off - and thus typically complex. Scrum is therefore particularly suitable for the implementation of projects. But not only: The Scrum Framework can just as well be used to organize the maintenance and further development of products or services. Because Scrum is intended for any kind of development.

Scrum is based on agile principles

The basis of Scrum are 

  1. Empowerment and self-management: teams are empowered and responsible to make all necessary decisions themselves.

  2. Early and regular deliveries: Those ensure a steady flow of (partial) results.

  3. Review and adjust: Teams regularly reflect on how they can become more effective and efficient - both in terms of the product and the way they work.

  4. Transparency: Teams share information and knowledge with each other in the spirit of collaboration.

  5. Setting time windows: all work and every activity has a fixed time window. This ensures focus, discipline and on-time deliveries.

Scrum is based on agile values 

The basis of Scrum includes the agile values:

  1. Focus: the primary focus of all stakeholders is on the work of the sprint to effect progress toward the goal.

  2. Courage: Team members have the courage to do the right thing and work through problems.

  3. Openness: Team as well as stakeholders are open about work and challenges.

  4. Commitment / self-commitment: everyone makes a personal commitment to achieve team goals and sprint goals and to support each other.

  5. Respect: Team members respect each other as capable, independent individuals.

Scrum delivers early and regularly - and reviews progress in sprints

Development is organized in iterations, which are called "sprints" in Scrum. An even sprint length gives the team a rhythm. A sprint lasts a maximum of four weeks. This ensures early and regular deliveries and regular inspection and adjustment.

At the beginning of a sprint, there is a prioritized list of requirements - the product backlog. From this, the development team "draws" as many requirements as it can implement in the next sprint, according to the priority. Then the team implements these requirements piece by piece, so that usable pieces of the product (the so-called increments) are created. The team shows this increment to customers, takes feedback, and uses it to adjust the requirements. At the end of a sprint, the team considers how it can improve the way it works. Then the next sprint begins.

Scrum is a lean framework

Scrum defines a few cornerstones with regard to the procedure - that is why it is often referred to as a framework. There are three responsibilities (often referred to as "roles"), four events and three artifacts (result types). 

Scrum has three responsibilities

  • Developers are those individuals on the Scrum team who are dedicated to creating every aspect of a usable increment every sprint.

  • A Product Owner is accountable for results in maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum team.

  • A Scrum Master A Scrum Master is responsible for the results of Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide as well as for the effectiveness of the Scrum Team. Scrum Masters are leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the overall organization.

Scrum has four events to plan, inspect and adapt together

  • Sprint planning addresses three issues: (1) Why is this sprint valuable and what is our sprint goal? (2) What can be completed in this sprint and what Product Backlog will be included in the current sprint? (3) How will the selected work be completed?

  • In Daily Scrum, developers review progress toward the Sprint goal and adjust  the Sprint Backlog as needed to align upcoming planned work.

  • In the Sprint Review, the Scrum Team presents the results of its work to key stakeholders to review the outcome of the Sprint and determine future adjustments. The goal is to make the product better.

  • In the Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team plans ways to increase quality and effectiveness.

The Product Backlog Refinement is more than an event

The Product Backlog Refinement is listed again and again as a Scrum event, but in fact the Product Owner works on the refinement of the Product Backlog during the entire Sprint. He typically does not do this alone, but in collaboration with stakeholders and the developers. In these cases, he often invites them to joint work sessions.

Scrum has three artifacts

  • The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of things needed to improve the product ("requirements list"). It is the only source of work done by the Scrum Team. The Product Backlog contains - as a heading, so to speak - the product goal. It describes a future state of the product, which serves as a planning goal for the Scrum Team.

  • The Sprint Backlog consists of the Sprint Goal (What), the Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint (What), and an actionable plan for delivering the increment (How). The Sprint Backlog is the plan of work that developers will perform during the Sprint to achieve the Sprint Goal.

  • An increment is a concrete step toward the product goal. Each increment is additive to all previous increments and thoroughly tested to ensure they all work together. To add value, the increment must be usable. Part of the increment is the "definition of done" as a quality definition: the moment a product backlog entry meets the definition of done an increment is born. An increment can also be delivered to stakeholders before the end of the Sprint: the Sprint should never be seen as a barrier to delivering value.

Scrum has many advantages

Scrum has quite a few advantages that ultimately lead to more benefits with less effort. Here are the most important points:

  • By consistently prioritizing the requirements on the basis of a cost-benefit ratio, the requirements that offer a high benefit are implemented first. This means that a usable result is available quickly and at an early stage.

  • Regular completion at the end of a sprint makes "getting done" and product quality a routine - not a drama.

  • Early and regular deliveries reduce the risk of failure.

  • Early feedback eliminates unnecessary requirements and thus waste.

  • The constant updating of requirements makes changes to requirements easy - and allows customers to steer the product onto the home straight. This optimizes benefits instead of plan fulfillment.

  • Planning techniques reduced to the essentials lower the hurdle for project management, enabling timeliness and discipline.

More information about Scrum can be found in the Scrum Guide and our books

You can find the definition of Scrum in the Scrum Guide. Our Scrum Compact offers you the Scrum description in a practical pocket format, and our Scrum Poster same information in wall format. A detailed book with quite a few techniques is our Ultimate Scrum Guide. And online everything is in our Scrum Browser.

The best way to get started with Scrum is to experience it

The best way is to experience Scrum. You can do that in our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) - or Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training. After that, we recommend Scrum Coaching - because theory is one thing, daily practice is another.

Discuss your individual Scrum deployment now.

Contact us or make an appointment directly with one of us. We are Timo Foegen, Yvonne Fischer, Tina Eisoldt, Daniel Votta and Lutz Koch. And we look forward to talking to you.

One of our Certified Scrum Trainers

Sascha Geßler

wibas GmbH

Sascha Geßler

Otto-Hesse-Str. 19B

64293 Darmstadt


+49 6151 503349-0