Scrum definition


The scrum has become the most popular project methodology within the companies; but what is this method nimble? We will take advantage of this article to see what this framework is on which we have already written many articles.

If you were looking for an article that explain what scrum is, this is the article you should read!


Subtlety: we often talk about scrum method but this is an abuse of language. Scrum is a “framework” and not a method. Try to use the term framework instead of scrum method.

Scrum definition

What definition for scrum? This agile framework offers a light framework that can be complex to set up. Here are the 3 key points that characterize it:

  • sprints (iterations) and their events
  • the 3 key roles
  • the artifacts
    • product backlog
    • sprint backlog
    • increment
    • definition of done

By the way, you can watch our 2 minute video on the scrum definition (la minute agile):


The origins of the scrum

The New New Product Development Game

The word “Scrum” for a project management methodology appeared in 1986 in the publication The New New Product Development Game written by two Japanese Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka.

However, the foundations of this agile framework aren’t in this article; Besides, these two Japanese are not considered to be the fathers of the current framework.

The term Scrum was borrowed from Rugby which was very popular for these two Japanese. They decided to refer to Rugby which is a sport recognized to be a very collective sport.

This framawork brings the idea of consolidating the team after a failed course; we can quickly understand that this failure represents poor project management that bring the projects to fail.

mélée scrum

The first version of the scrum

In 1995, Ken Schwaber presented for the first time the foundations of what Scrum is that we know today. He co-wrote with Mike Beedle the Agile Software Development with Scrum in 2001; then they published this book in 2004.

Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber offered the Scrum Guide in 2001 available free on the Internet; the latter had some changes from time to time. The last version dates from November 2017 and offers some adjustments.

The Corporate Scrum

In this article and the various links you will find inside, you will see that everything doesn’t comply 100% with the Scrum Guide. I preferred to talk about the Scrum that is applied in today’s businesses. However, these possible adaptations will not disorient you.

In business, you will find an application of the adapted framework with practices that have become very popular such as user-stories or poker planning. You have to know that these two practices come from another agile framework called Extreme Programming; a lot of agile approaches use Extreme Programming like a real reference.

It is quite rare these days to see a scrum apply without these two popular practices.

What is Scrum?

This agile framework works with an incremental and iterative approach.

The development cycles are deliberately short and iterative; we are overwhelmingly with iterations of two weeks (some do it over 4 weeks) which we call sprints.

In Scrum, it is very important to have structured agile project cycles with short, rhythmic and equal iterations.

Agile projet cycle - scrum

These short iterations are essentials to allow the ability to quickly adapt the processes or the scope of the project; we take advantage of these very short iterations to obtain maximum feedback from customers (at the end of each iteration) which eventually allows us to increment the product with new evolutions.

These iterations are represented simply by different ceremonies that we will see in more detail later in the following:

  • sprint planning which starts the iteration
  • daily stand-up every morning,
  • sprint review
  • retrospectives which close the sprint.

Here is a diagram which presents this framework:

scrum canvas

The 3 pillars of Scrum


Scrum remind the importance of sharing all aspects of the process with all decision makers and the overall vision of developments with all observers.

For my part, I don’t hesitate to setup a complete visual management in order to help a complete transparency.

Make a full wall board
Visual management in Agile
Tips in visual management


It is essential to follow the progress of the team’s developments and objectives. This inspection is done:

  • thanks to the visual management in a transparent way
  • at the review where the team makes a point at the end of each iteration about the work accomplished
  • with the daily (meeting each day to align the team about the progress on the sprint)
  • about the process during the retrospective

Some scrum teams use monitoring indicators to properly monitor the progress of a sprint and / or product development:

Burndown Chart – know how to build it
Burnup Chart: project monitoring


Scrum recommends to adapt the processes and the work environment in order to provide an optimal context for the team. The retrospective ceremony at the end of the sprint makes it possible to define axis of improvement in order to be in a real process of continuous improvement.

The scrum team will be able to test new practices which it will decide to adopt or not depending on the results; it will also not hesitate to remove practices that have become obsolete.

continuous improvement of the process
continuous improvement of the process

The 3 key roles of Scrum

The framework purposes 3 different key roles:

I strongly recommend that you read these articles; know that anyone who is neither a Product Owner nor a Scrum Master, is in the development team. The development team isn’t just made up of developers (programer).

Here are some possible additional roles that we can have in these teams that adapt to the complicated contexts:

What is a Proxy Product Owner?
Agile tester
Business Analyst

The main ceremonies

The scrum proposes different ceremonies (meeting) to punctuate the sprints (iterations) as we saw it briefly below.

A sprint consists of:

  • a sprint planning:
    • opening sprint
    • the team starts a sprint by planning the work to be done.
    • it set a sprint goal
    • it defined the plan to achieve this goal
  • a sprint review:
    • sprint closure
    • the team reviews the work done during the sprint
    • the team invites stakeholders / customers to give feedback on the product with the latest “done” developments
  • a retrospective sprint:
    • after the review
    • the team makes a point together to look for areas for improvement
  • a daily stand-up:
    • the development team meets to harmonize together: what it was done yesterday, what we will today, is there an alert
      each morning

To learn more about all the ceremonies of a scrum sprint, here is an article that I recommend to you very complete on the subject:

Sprint ceremonies

Agile Scrum Artifacts

This framework purposes 4 artifacts (including 1 related to transparency) that the teams must know.

Product backlog

The product backlog represents the grouping of all the things to be done on the product for its evolution; it is under the responsibility of the product owner. Unlike the V-model / waterfall methods, the backlog is constantly evolving to take into account the numerous feedbacks obtained.

Here is a full article on the subject and which offers you many articles around this product backlog:

Product Backlog – definition
Product backlog example

Sprint backlog

The sprint backlog represents all the items that are taken care of by the development team during the current sprint; it will also contain the plan to deliver these items in a stable environment. We consider that each sprint has its own backlog sprint.

Sprint backlog


The increment represents the set of items that are “done” in the current sprint added to the increment of the previous sprint. For simplicity, it’s the product in a stable state.

Definition of Done

The development team will define together all the criteria which will allow to confirm that one item (user story for example) can be considered as “done”. We commonly call this practice by the acronym Dod

Definition of Done (DOD)


Conclusion scrum

To conclude, don’t hesitate to go and discover all our full articles on scrum that I regularly publish on this blog. However, don’t forget that this is not a method but a light framework which must be completed with the adapted practices to improve the environment of the team.

So, ready to set up this agile framework?

Useful link: articles in the french agile blog


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About Judicaël Paquet 190 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My activities in France and Switzerland: - agile transformation architect - customized agile training - sensitization and manager coaching - agile maturity audits and situations - agile coaching (teams, orga, product owner, scrum master, agile coach) Specialties: scrum, kanban, management 3.0, scalability, lean startup, agile method.

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