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An Overview of Project Management & Scrum

You’ve earned a Master’s in Project Management degree, or a Master’s in Organizational Leadership degree, and you’ve landed yourself a position managing a software development team that uses Scrum for their software development process.  The only problem is, you have no idea what “Scrum” is.  Fortunately, we at Nonprofit Colleges Online have created a brief overview that teaches you some of the basics about Scrum to prepare you on your journey to become a Scrum Master.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a software development process designed to account for the realities of modern day software development.  Named after the rugby football term for a tightly-packed group of rugby players working to gain possession of the ball, the idea behind Scrum is to have the team work as a collective group that is ready to move and shift its goals as the requirements of the project shift and change.

In modern day software development, changes and feature requirements shift constantly making it very hard to create a long-term goal for the completion of a piece of software.  Scrum is designed with this principle of software development in mind and is designed to be agile, allowing the team to change direction and make-up in order to meet whatever goals need to be met.

So how does it work?

Within the Scrum framework, there are three key roles: the Product Owner, Development Team, and Scrum Master.  Through the interaction of these three groups, a project is able to be seen to its conclusion.  But in order for Scrum to function properly, a Scrum team must follow the five value of Scrum: Commitment to the team, Courage to work through conflict and challenges, Focus on team goals, Openness about their work and challenges, and Respect for each other on the team.  Let’s drill down some more on various roles.

Product Owner

The Product Owner can be boiled down to the concept of the voice of the customer.  From this perspective, the Product Owner creates user stories about the product in order for the Development Team to understand what will be expected of the product.  The Product Owner must be in constant communication with the rest of the Scrum team and is always allowed to communicate their needs throughout the development of the product.

Development Team

The Development Team is responsible for hitting as many Potentially Shippable Increments (PSIs) at the end of each Sprint.   A Sprint is a set amount of time for the Development Team to complete as many PSIs as possible.  The Development Team is made up of several different disciplines and is able to organize itself in a way that allows it to complete PSIs however it sees fit.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is the role that somebody with a Master’s in Project Management or Organizational Leadership will find themselves.  The role of the Scrum Master is to take care of the Development Team and to remove any distractions or impediments to the development process.  The role is that of a team facilitator.  Scrum Masters work to motivate the Development Team while working with the Product Owner to better understand the goals for the Product in order to create Potentially Shippable Increments that are feasible and needed for the product.

In a nutshell:

With these roles in mind, Scrum is centered around the notion of Sprints.  Product features to be worked on are listed at the beginning of a Sprint and the Development Team works as quickly as possible to meet these goals.  During this period of time, the Scrum Master makes sure that the Development Team is working efficiently as possible.  Upon the completion of the Sprint, the Development Team reviews what has and hasn’t been completed.  This is compared with what the Product Owner’s expectations.  After this comparison is made, a new list of goals is created and another Sprint begins.  This process continues over and over until all product goals are met.

With one of our top online Master’s in Project Management degrees or our top online Master’s in Organizational Leadership degrees, your role in a Scrum will be that of a Scrum Master.  You will work to use skills from your degree to ensure that the Development Team is able to work as efficiently as possible while working with the Product Owner to ensure that the goals for the product are met.  We hope that this brief overview of Scrum has helped as a jumping-off point for your understanding of Scrum!