Tools, Artifacts, and Methods in Scrum

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In addition to roles and ceremonies, Scrum projects also include certain tools and artifacts. For example, the team uses a Scrum board to visualize the backlog or a burndown chart to show outstanding work. The most common artifacts and methods are:

  • Scrum board: You can visualize your sprint backlog with a Scrum task board. The board can have different forms; it traditionally involves index cards, Post-It notes, or a whiteboard. The Scrum board is usually divided into three categories: to do, work in progress, and done. The Scrum Team needs to update the board throughout the entire sprint. For example, if someone comes up with a new task, she would write a new card and put it in the appropriate column.
  • User stories: A user story describes a software feature from the customer’s perspective. It includes the type of user, what they want, and why they want it. These short stories follow a similar structure: as a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so that I can <achieve some goal.> The development team uses these stories to create code that will meet the requirements of the stories.
  • Burndown chart: A burndown chart represents all outstanding work. The backlog is usually on the vertical axis, with time along the horizontal axis. The work remaining can be represented by story points, ideal days, team days, or other metrics. A burndown chart can warn the team if things aren’t going according to plan and helps to show the impact of decisions.
  • Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS): If you want to scale elements of Scrum to hundreds of developers, the Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework helps extend the rules and guidelines without losing the core of Scrum. The principles are taken directly from Scrum, however focuses on scaling up without adding additional overhead (like adding more roles, artifacts, or processes).
  • Timeboxing: A timebox is a set period of time during which a team works towards completing a goal. Instead of letting a team work until the goal is reached, the timebox approach stops work when the time limit is reached. Time-boxed iterations are often used in Scrum and Extreme Programming.
  • Icebox: Any user stories that are recorded but not moved to development are stored in the icebox.

The term “icebox” was created by Pivotal Tracker, an Agile project management tool.

  • Scrum vs RUP: While both Scrum and Rational Unified Process (RUP) follow the Agile framework, RUP involves more formal definition of scope, major milestones, and specific dates (Scrum uses a project backlog instead of scope). In addition, RUP involves four major phases of the project lifecycle (inception, elaboration, construction, and transition), whereas Scrum dictates that the whole “traditional lifecycle” fits into one iteration.
  • Lean vs Scrum: Scrum is a software development framework, while Lean helps optimize that process. Scrum’s primary goal is on the people, while Lean focuses on the process. They are both considered Agile techniques, however Lean introduces two major concepts: eliminating waste and improving flow.