To truly understand, what are scrum artifacts we first have to understand some important terms and processes. These key definitions are instrumental to understanding what scrum artifacts are.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a subset of the Agile Project Management Methodology. The Scrum Framework management system’s philosophy is to Plan – Build – Publish – Review and Repeat the process again.
Each building iteration in Scrum is called a Sprint. During a Sprint, the development team rushes to achieve the goals set by the Sprint Plan Meeting Committee.
The Sprint Plan Meeting is held before each sprint by the Scrum Team to set the goals for the next sprint. Members of the Scrum Team include the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team.
Although the Scrum Framework is derivative of Agile, it has evolved to become an independent project management methodology.
At its core, Scrum is repetitive and incremental and it is firmly rooted in Empiricism, a philosophy that states knowledge comes only from evidence gathered or experienced.
Ideally, Scrum is for building and maintaining complex products. A good example is in software development. Moreover, many Fortune 500 companies also use the Scrum methodology as it is lightweight and adapts quickly to changing circumstances.
3 Pillars that uphold proper Scrum Implementation are:
Below is a list of some terms used in Scrum.
Empiricism: The philosophy that knowledge comes only from experience and experimentation.
Scrum Sprint: A repeating and fixed time interval allocated to the Development Team to achieve their Sprint Goal. The length of a Scrum Sprint does not exceed 1 month.
Sprint Goal: The overall objective that the Development Team needs to realize during a sprint.
Sprint Planning Meeting: A gathering held before each sprint to discuss and plan for the upcoming sprint. It is attended by the entire Scrum Team.
Scrum Retrospective Meeting: A discussion or review meeting attended by the Scrum Team and Stakeholders(optional). Members meet to review and plan methods to avoid undesirable events.
Scrum Team: A Scrum Team should include the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team.
Scrum Master – The Scrum Master ensures that the team follows and practices the correct scrum principles.
Done Increment: It’s a usable and tangible step made by the Development Team to the product. Each Done Increment brings the product closer to its goal.
Development team: a group of professionals working together to collectively create a working product.
We will now look at 3 main Scrum Artifacts so that by the end we can answer two questions.
- what are scrum artifacts?
- what purpose do scrum artifacts serve?
3 Types of Scrum Artifacts
Scrum Artifact – Product Backlog
The Product Backlog is an ordered list of all that is needed to produce a working product. The items on the list are sorted according to their importance. The top listings are important items that are ready for development and could be finished in a single sprint.
The items on a Product Backlog include User Stories, Features, Functions, Test Criteria, Enhancements, Fixes, etc. These items on the product backlog are what the Scrum Team considers at the Spring Planning Meeting.
A product backlog always evolves with time, as new feedback comes in. It is similar to a homework journal, loaded with tasks that were or need to be done. Therefore as long as the product exists its product backlog will also exist.
Usually, a product backlog starts small, with a few features planned for development. However, as every sprint’s feedback results in addition to the backlog, its depth increases with time.
The Product Owner is responsible for managing and grooming the product backlog. He/She does this by adding details, estimates, and ordering the product backlog. This process is called Product Backlog Grooming/Refinement.
The Product Owner can use the backlog, at any moment, to check his/her product’s journey towards the ultimate goal. The backlog also includes release increment, release activities, defects, and future enhancements.
Product Backlog Items have 4 attributes which are:
In Scrum, only a product backlog should direct development teams on what they should do. Development teams separated by geography also use the product backlog to synchronize their work.
Scrum Artifact – Sprint Backlog
A Sprint Backlog is a subset of the items on a Product Backlog. However, a key difference is that a sprint backlog outlines sprint targets whereas a product backlog outlines the ultimate targets of the product.
Sprint backlogs are similar in function to to-do lists. This is because they both hold things that need to be done in a certain period.
They are a forecast or future estimate based on past performance and any parameters affecting how much can be done in 1 sprint.
A sprint backlog should only be visible, be used, and updated by the development team. It’s not for anyone outside the development team.
The development team uses the sprint backlog to monitor their progress towards reaching their Sprint Goal. They also use the backlog as an inspection and adaptation artifact.
This means the backlog may be updated every day depending on the received feedback at the Daily Scrum Meeting.
Scrum Artifact – The Increment
An Increment is the summation of all product backlog items implemented in current and past sprints. In other words, it’s the end-product of each completed sprint.
A basic rule is that the increment should always be ready for release regardless if the Product Owner requests for it or not.
Simply said, an increment is a stepping stone towards the ultimate idea of the product. The increment is examined by members of the Sprint Review at the end of a sprint.
If any adjustments, done to the product backlog, are implemented in a sprint; the results will appear in the increment.
What’s more noteworthy is that the increment is the only artifact available to everyone related to the product.
The Increment provides transparency to all the scrum processes, therefore it must be released as frequently as possible.
Why are Scrum Artifacts important?
Scrum Artifacts are important because they provide insight and transparency to the Scrum process.
Without complete transparency, you create blindspots for the scrum team and the organization in general. Transparency helps you minimize your risk and optimize your product’s value.
Additionally, Scrum Artifacts also help track the progress of your product and document the process.
Above all, they help ensure that set objectives are accomplished in the best manner.
I hope your question,” what are scrum artifacts?” is now answered.