Scrum Activities and Artifacts

At its core, Scrum is an iterative approach to software development. Scrum splits a large project into many time intervals known as sprints. Sprints generally last between one week and one month, averaging about 14 days. During each sprint, developers focus on a particular set of features, making the idea become reality through careful coding and testing.

Each sprint can be subdivided into smaller activities. Each sprint kicks off with a sprint planning meeting during which the team members identify the top priorities and list the ones that they can realistically perform in the product backlog.

Throughout the sprint, there are daily meetings that are capped at 15 minutes. Team members share information about their progress the previous day, their plans for the current day, and any potential obstacles. These meetings align the team members’ efforts and keep everyone’s work on track.

As the sprint draws to an end, the sprint review allows the team to demonstrate its accomplishments. The product owner and/or users are invited to view the new functionality and provide detailed feedback, which is then incorporated into the next product backlog.

The sprint retrospective occurs at approximately the same time. This is an opportunity for all the team members to discuss the process itself, sharing their thoughts about the concluding sprint and any ideas for making the next sprint more productive and more successful.

Scrum Artifacts

The Scrum methodology results in several artifacts. The most obvious is the finished product which is ready to be shared with the client and/or end user.

The product backlog is a living document that contains a full list of all the desired functionality, subject to change per the client’s needs. The product owner prioritizes the list of items and the team focuses on the highest-priority outstanding items in each sprint. The desired functionality can be listed in many different ways, but project teams find the greatest success when they are expressed as brief stories depicting the experience of the end user.

Note that the sprint backlog is a smaller subset of the product backlog. It lists only the features and functionality that the team members will focus on during a single sprint.

While tackling the list in the sprint backlog, the team members use two charts: the sprint burndown chart and the release burndown chart. These documents reflect how much work the team still has to do and function almost like a dashboard, providing a visual representation of whether the sprint or release is on track for timely completion.