Scrum is an Agile framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but it works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless. The Scrum framework is deceptively simple.
The Scrum framework in 30 seconds
A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
The team has a certain amount of time — a sprint (usually two to four weeks) — to complete its work, but it meets each day to assess its progress (daily Scrum).
Along the way, the ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on its goal.
At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable: ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.
Beyond the sprint
The cycle repeats until enough items in the product backlog have been completed, the budget is depleted, or a deadline arrives. Which of these milestones marks the end of the work is entirely specific to the project. No matter which impetus stops work, Scrum ensures that the most valuable work has been completed when the project ends.
Why Is It Called Scrum?
When Jeff Sutherland created the scrum process in 1993, he borrowed the term "scrum" from an analogy put forth in a 1986 study by Takeuchi and Nonaka, published in the Harvard Business Review. In that study, Takeuchi and Nonaka compare high-performing, cross-functional teams to the scrum formation used by Rugby teams.
Scrum is the leading agile development methodology, used by Fortune 500 companies around the world. The Scrum Alliance exists to transform the way we tackle complex projects, bringing the Scrum framework and agile principles beyond software development to the broader world of work.