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What Is Scrum in Project Management?

If you've ever watched rugby, then you know that continuous action is the name of the game. Two 15-member teams carry, pass or kick an oval-shaped ball to the end zone to score points. Players can block and tackle with their arms and hands, and, unlike in American football, the clock and the action only stop when a team scores, an out-of-bounds play occurs or because of a penalty.

The scrummage restarts play after a penalty or other error. During a rugby scrum, eight players from each team tightly huddle with the goal of retrieving the ball placed in the space between the two teams. This requires effective communication, accountability among players to fulfill their respective roles and a commitment to working together to achieve a common goal. This fundamental moment in rugby inspired the name for an agile methodology of project management.

Agile project management — call it Scrum — has grown in popularity as the industry evolves from "assembly line" production to processes that involve the human experience and embrace change. Southeastern Oklahoma State University's 100% online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Project Management can equip candidates with the hands-on experience and problem-solving techniques to navigate the modern business environment.

Scrum Is a Framework

Industry experts Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland created Scrum as a framework rather than a process or a definitive method. Within this framework, though, you can use a variety of processes and techniques to effectively tackle complex problems and serve your end result.

Scrum was created for the software industry but is now a ready choice for complex projects across industries. Users have reported "increased ability to manage changing priorities, better visibility into projects, more alignment between business and IT, and faster time to market."

How Scrum Works

Much like its namesake, Scrum values teamwork. Three key roles make up a Scrum team:

  • Product Owner. Defines the product, clearly expresses what it should look like and communicates feedback from shareholders.
  • Development Team. Decides how to develop the product. This small group of self-organizing, cross-functioning individuals sets the processes and techniques that will get the job done.
  • Scrum Master. Defends the team from internal and external distractions. The Scrum Master encourages the team and holds it accountable. He or she is the coach.

The Scrum Team model optimizes productivity and flexibility by taking an incremental approach. Large projects are cut into functional chunks called sprints. Each sprint begins with a plan and ends with a review of the project completed and feedback on how the team worked together. This improves predictability, manages risk and enables the team to deliver a product that satisfies the customer.

As the project management field morphs to include more roles and industries, Scrum is expected to become ever more reliable as a framework that helps project managers simplify complex problems regardless of the project type.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University's online MBA program with a Concentration in Project Management.


Sources:

Scrum Alliance: Benefits of Using Scrum

Scrum Guides: The Scrum Guide

The Home of Scrum: What Is Scrum?

World Rugby: A Beginner's Guide to Rugby Union


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