Scrum is one of the easiest frameworks that any company that wants to adopt the Agile Methodology can implement. Companies have started to understand that the Agile Methodology is more effective in product development than the traditional methodologies.
Organizations start with using the Scrum Framework to get a head start with the processes of Agile as Scrum is an easy framework to implement. However, companies recruit the best Scrum professionals to implement it. This implies that any individual interested in working with organizations that started using Scrum or are using Scrum for their projects requires candidates that are updated in their Scrum knowledge. Candidates should understand the process of Scrum and know all the tools and techniques it uses to create transparency as it is one of the main pillars of Scrum. This article highlights one of Scrum’s main tools called the Scrum’s Artifacts which represents the work and value.
What are Scrum’s Artifacts?
One of the most important elements used in Scrum to make the work effective and transparent is the use of Scrum Artifacts. Scrum Artifacts are a representation of value and work. Their main aim is to build transparency among the team members such that everyone in the team knows where the project is headed. This also helps the team members to anticipate the needs for the projects and makes them work on them meticulously. There are three Artifacts of Scrum and each of them has a different commitment assigned to them which enhances the transparency and focus of the Scrum team. This helps the members of the team measure the progress of their project and makes them focus on those areas in which they may be lagging. The three Artifacts as mentioned in the Scrum Guide are:
- Product Backlog
- Sprint Backlog
All of these Artifacts have a commitment assigned to them. For the Product Backlog, the product goal is commitment. Similarly, for the Sprint Backlog, the Sprint Goal, and the Increment, it is the definition of done. The goal of these commitments is to reinforce the Scrum values and empiricism for the stakeholders and the Scrum team. Let us understand each of these Artifacts in detail.
What is a Product Backlog?
When a product is planned, the Scrum team along with the customers and the stakeholders decide a list of items that should be present in the product. This list is called the Product Backlog which contains the user stories, epics, and all the tasks which have to be completed for the product to be built. The Product Backlog is the single source of work that is outsourced by the Scrum team. All of the ideas, which may be useful for the product to succeed in the market, are added to the Product Backlog. This backlog is common to all the Scrum teams (if multiple teams are working on the same product). The backlog is transparent which implies that all of the team members can see which items are completed and which are yet to be finished.
Usually, the team refines the backlog and filters the non-relevant features from the list in a meeting called the Product Backlog Refinement meeting. This makes the list more precise and smaller; the features on the list are also arranged according to the highest to the lowest priorities based on the market and other factors. Developers also add more description, order, and size to the features to make it clear for everyone on the Scrum team. Hence, the Product Backlog constitutes the “what” of the project as it answers the question of “what are the things the team has to work on?”
Definition of Product Goal
The commitment to the Product Backlog is called the Product Goal. It is the future state of the product that has to be seen as a goal or a target that the team has to achieve while developing the product. The team has to keep the items on the Product Backlog by understanding whether it would help them reach the Product Goal. When we talk about a product, it could be anywhere from a service, a physical product, or anything more abstract. A product is only a way to deliver value to the customers and stakeholders and solve their problems. Hence, a Product Goal could be thought of as a long-term objective which the Scrum team has to work for. One objective has to be fulfilled by the team before they take up the next one. Hence, a Product Goal is a phase which the company has to reach by fulfilling tasks they list in the Product Backlog.
What is a Sprint Backlog?
Scrum is an iterative and incremental method of solving complex problems. Scrum works in time-boxed periods called Sprint which creates Product Increments to enhance the value of the product. A Sprint lasts about 2-4 weeks and usually, all the Sprints are of the same length. The Scrum team decides the list of items they will complete in a Sprint and make a separate list. This list is picked from the Product Backlog and is called the Sprint Backlog. A Sprint Backlog is specific to a particular Scrum team, unlike the Product Backlog which is common to everyone. This backlog could be called a plan which is created by the developers for the developers. It contains the why of the backlog called the Sprint Goal, the items selected from the Product Backlog called the what of the backlog, and the actionable plan called the how of the backlog. A Sprint Backlog is listed in a meeting called the Sprint planning meeting which occurs before the Sprint begins. This is one of the important Scrum events where the product owner and the developers discuss what should be completed during the Sprint. At the end of the Sprint planning meeting, the team has a Sprint Backlog and a Sprint Goal which they will work on for the next Sprint. The Sprint Backlog is updated every day such that the team knows that they are reaching their Sprint Goal.
Definition of Sprint Goal
The single objective of the Sprint is the Sprint Goal. The product goal is the overall picture of the product, however, the Sprint Goal is the smaller picture which would contribute to completing the bigger picture. The Sprint Goal is a commitment by the developers which provides them flexibility with the precise amount of work they need to complete. When the team has a clear goal to achieve in a defined amount of time, they work effectively and become extremely productive. The Sprint Goal aims to create an environment of focus and coherence that encourages the team to collaborate rather than working separately. The team decides the Sprint Goal during the Sprint planning meeting. The Sprint Goal of the developers and the product owner may be different which has to be clarified and negotiated so that both of them have a common ground. The scope of the Sprint Backlog should be within the Sprint and the team and PO should negotiate without affecting the Sprint Goal.
What are Increments?
An increment is the list of the features which are developed during the Sprint and before the Sprint and are integrated into the product. It is a concrete stepping stone that brings the team closer to the product goal. It could be considered as a cumulative of all the prior increments which are verified thoroughly such that all the increments work together. The increment must be usable for it to provide value to the customers and its users. One Sprint may have many increments which are all presented at the end of the Sprint during the Sprint review. Hence, this supports one of the three pillars of Scrum called empiricism which means that knowledge could only be achieved by having previous experience in working on that area.
A Sprint Review is the last-second meeting conducted by the Scrum team where all the features are verified before they are released in the market. The stakeholders give a review about these increments and the development team works on this feedback to make the product increment better. The features which are agreed upon by the stakeholders are released as a product update in the market.
Definition of Done
Definition of Done is the commitment of the Scrum team to the increment. Work is considered to be finished when it meets the definition of done which is a list of criteria framed by the product owner. It is the formal description of the characteristics that the increment has to fulfill, for it to be considered as completed. The DoD helps the Scrum team to produce the quality required for the products. When the Product Backlog items satisfy the DoD, the increment is created. The main aim of the DoD is to create transparency and ideas for everyone who is working on an increment. It provides a shared understanding of what the team members should work on so that their work gets approved. When a Product Backlog item does not meet the DoD, they are not released or even presented at the Sprint review. It reaches future consideration and the team moves on with other backlog items. Suppose an organization does not create a DoD, in such cases, the developers themselves should create DoD which is suitable for the product. When many Scrum teams are working on a complex product, they should all decide and mutually agree on a common definition of done.
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The three Scrum Artifacts are the main tools of Scrum which should be understood by every Scrum professional. The Product Backlog helps the team organize all the features in a single list such that they easily select the items for the Sprint Backlog. The product goal gives a direction to the entire project and helps the team see the bigger picture of the product they are building. Hence, it provides an eagle’s view of the project and helps the team to work effectively. The Sprint Backlog helps the team make effective decisions and makes them come up with an actionable plan to complete the list of features they selected. Sprint Goal gives the team a short term which gives them a sense of achievement once completed. The Sprint Goal could be an ant’s view for the Scrum team, which went completed one by one, the team achieving the product goal. Lastly, the increment is the additive of all the work added to the product which helps the product provide more value to the customers and users. The commitment to the increment called the definition of done gives an exact measurement of what the developers should complete. Hence, the three Scrum Artifacts are the heart of Scrum and contribute greatly to making the Scrum project a success.