The benefits of an Agile Scrum framework

The benefits of an Agile Scrum framework

29 Jul 2022

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The term ‘Agile Scrum’ refers to a methodology used within project management. It has its origins within the area of software development, but is now increasingly used as a project management methodology across other fields such as Construction, Design, HR and Marketing. This article will provide a brief overview of what Agile Scrum is, the benefits of the Agile Scrum Framework, and where to find CPD courses in this area.

What is Agile Scrum?

Although the terms ‘Agile’ and ‘Scrum’ have similar features and are often referred to interchangeably within project management, they are in fact two separate concepts. In order to understand Agile Scrum, it is important to recognise the unique identity of each concept:

Agile – In project management, Agile refers to a philosophy or set of values and principles which can be applied to managing projects. The Agile approach looks to deliver projects in smaller, manageable phases where there is immediate return on investment (ROI) and outcomes to a customer. It relies on engaging with feedback from the customer to seek to improve the next delivery phase of the project. 

Agile is often also defined as applying an ‘iterative’ approach – this meaning to repeat a process with the aim of improving it each time. It differs in this sense from traditional project management in that it does not look to define the complete terms and phases of a project from the outset.

A simple example of Agile thinking is taking a day in stages – rather than planning a rigid set of objectives for a day, ensure that each hour has been completed successfully. Once one hour is successfully complete, move on to the next highest priority task in the following hour using the experience of the previous hour to inform the next. This prevents false expectations being set for a day which could lead to a sense of delay or backlog.

Applying Agile philosophy requires adaptation in the structures and thinking of an organisation, which may have traditionally looked to define a project in the whole from creation. For example, organisations are inclined to want to budget the cost of a project in total from the outset rather than taking an Agile approach to costs.

Scrum – While ‘Agile’ is a philosophy and mind-set, ‘Scrum’ refers to a practical methodology that can be used in project management. The term Scrum is borrowed from Rugby Football and was chosen as it reflects teamwork and how play is restarted and then progressed in the game of Rugby. Scrum was first mentioned by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in the context of product development in a 1986 Harvard Business Review article 'The New New Product Development Game'. The term was then developed in to a full methodology by software developers Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, through a series of papers and articles in the 1990’s. Their methodology became widely recognised and adopted within the IT industry in the early 2000’s.

Scrum methodology defines the type of roles required in a project and introduces the idea of ‘Sprints’ which means a short phase of a larger project. This is followed by a ‘Sprint Review’ where the success of each phase is evaluated, including feedback from the customer, and this is fed in to the next sprint or phase of the whole project. The underlying principle is that it encourages teamwork with an emphasis on constant adaptation and improvement but also provides deliverables and value to a customer in the completion of each sprint.

The combining of Agile and Scrum as a term and framework for project management recognises two key elements – Agile being a philosophy and Scrum the method of implementing that philosophy.

Agile Scrum in project management

How does Scrum work?

The working methodology for Scrum is based on the unique requirements of software development but can be easily applied to other fields. Along with the concept of the sprint there are two key roles in the Scrum method. Firstly there is the ‘Product owner’ which means the business, the customer and other product users. They identify all the things desired in the overall project and this is known as the ‘Product Backlog’. An individual sprint will identify and focus on the highest priority section of the product backlog and look to complete this.

The second important role in the Scrum is ‘Scrum Master’ who is the coach and guide for the rest of the team in the Scrum during the sprint period. A sprint will normally be defined as a period of 2-4 weeks. Prior to the sprint there will be ‘Sprint Planning’ involving both the product owner and all members of the Scrum including the Scrum Master. Sprint planning will create a ‘Sprint Backlog’ which is all tasks to be completed in the sprint. During a sprint there will be short daily meetings of the wider Scrum team, Scrum Master and product owner - here they share what work was completed the previous day, state the work to be completed on that day, and identify any impediments to progress.

Following the completion of the sprint, there will be a ‘Sprint Review’ period where the team demonstrates what has been produced to the product owner who can provide their feedback. This phase provides opportunity for improvement in the next sprint. The process is then repeated with the next highest priority section of the product backlog making up the next sprint.

What are the benefits of the Agile Scrum framework?

The overriding advantage of an Agile Scrum framework is it allows a larger project to be broken down in to manageable, deliverable sections. Within this there are two key benefits – the ability to constantly adapt and improve as the project develops, and add value to customers in that they see immediate ROI and delivery at every stage.

It also has the advantage of constant feedback from all involved throughout the life of a project. This encourages relentless improvement but also creativity and innovation. It can also lead to greater employee and customer satisfaction in that they feel consistently engaged in the process, rather than detached from a longer term outcome. It is also perceived to potentially reduce costs by evaluating requirements during the process, rather than setting arbitrary costs from the outset.

Although there is still a recognition within project management that more linear, traditional methods maintain value on smaller projects with limited time scales and easily defined outcomes, the Agile Scrum approach has become popular on larger, more complex projects.

Advantages of the Agile Scrum framework

Who would use Agile Scrum? 

The use of Scrum is commonplace within software development and IT but is increasingly applied to managing projects in other fields. The Construction industry for example has adopted the framework for more complex projects. 

There is now value for many individuals across industries to understand the concepts of ‘Agile’ and ‘Scrum’ and incorporate this in to their Continuing Professional Development (CPD). For employees it may be a framework that is adopted within their team and workplace, but there are also learning advantages for management looking to adapt and improve their organisational structure.

Where to find Agile Scrum CPD courses?

One of the best ways to make sure you are going to get the most out of any learning or training around The Agile Scrum Framework, is to take part in a CPD certified course. This will provide assurance, as that course will have had prior review by an established independent organisation, to a recognised industry standard of learning.

There are a variety of Agile Scrum and Project Management related courses and events listed on our CPD Courses Catalogue. There are courses aimed towards different levels of knowledge, offering the opportunity for all professionals to benefit from a CPD certified course.

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The CPD Certification Service is the largest and leading CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Our unique 25 years' experience and history helps to provide assurance that any courses or training will be assessed and checked to help ensure each delegate can get the most out of learning. If you are considering becoming a CPD accredited training provider, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

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If you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your ongoing Continuing Professional Development, as well as store your personal training record and CPD attendance certificates in one simple place, please visit the myCPD Portal page.

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