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A description of Scrum For Project Managers – some details

The product requirements of Scrum are typically chunked into a small set called a Story, or feature, with a short narrative description, somewhat like a use case or a test case. When you talk to people who are involved in Scrum, you will hear the word ‘Story’ many times. Let us go into more detail of what a Story is. There are three types of stories namely: User Story, Technical Story and Bug Report. More details on each of these. A User Story describes what the user does with the software and how the software responds. A Technical Story is a non-functional requirement that describes the functionality supporting the user facing features in User Stories whereas a bug report is a description of the failure of the product to behave as designed and expected. Another important document in Scrum (one of the most important documents) is called – the Product Backlog; which includes all requirements not yet scheduled for implementation.
Another important term in Scrum is Sprint; in the old world, Project Managers call it the Schedule, but this is not an exact mapping. Small teams of 6-9 people work in short Sprints of 2-4 (the optimum Sprint timing is dependent on many factors, including the work to be done, the comfort level, etc) weeks to implement stories in rank order. In each of the Sprints the team members collaborate and self-organize; they also track progress and update tasks when finished. Team members collaborate to complete stories quickly instead of working on separate stories in parallel. At the end of a Sprint, completed stories are shipped: incomplete Stories are not. The schedule is not extended to complete work.
The three roles defined in Scrum are: the ScrumMaster, the Product Owner and the Team. The people who fulfill these roles work together closely, on a daily basis to ensure the smooth flow of information ant the resolution of issues. ScrumMaster is responsible for enforcing the process, tracking progress and expediting problem resolution. He keeps the team focused and productive, protects them from interference and ensures the swift removal of roadblocks. It is not required that a person like a Project Manager should be the ScrumMaster, you need a person who can keep the team moving, can understand the Scrum process, and can work quickly to resolve issues that the team faces. The Product Owner is the keeper of the requirements. He provides the single source of information about the requirements and their planned order of implementation. The Team is a group of people responsible for developing the product.
The different phases of development in scrum can be divided into three phases. During the first phase the SprintBacklog is defined and ranked set of requirements planned for implementation in a Sprint. Next is the turn of sprint planning meeting where the team estimates each Story in rank order. Next is the turn of task breakdown; in which identification of the set of tasks whose execution results in implementation of the desired functionality. Phase two consists of developing and testing of the Stories. This phase also includes monitoring and controlling which maps to updating the Burndown Chart and holding Daily Scrum meetings. Daily Scrums are daily status meetings to resolve issues proactively. An important practice of daily Scrum Meetings is that it is timeboxed to 15 minutes, which essentially means that questions are answered quickly; issues are identified and addressed quickly. The final final phase consists of Demo, Release and Retrospective. Closing maps to demonstrate the completed work in review meetings is done. The updated product is released and the Retrospective meetings held to capture the lessons learnt. At this point the cycle begins again. The next Sprint kicks off with the Sprint Planning Meeting using the updated ProductBacklog.

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