Scrum 101 for IT Graduates

20/12/19

You’ve just completed your IT degree and think you’re ready for the workforce. You’ve gone to some job interviews, and they’re asking you about your experience with Scrum and agile work environments.

The trouble is… you haven’t had that experience, and you’re not really sure what they’re talking about and you have no idea where to start.

We’ve got you covered. Here is our handy introduction guide to Scrum and agile work.

Scrum is an agile form of methodology for project management

When IT teams tackle projects, there are a number of project management methodologies (aka ways of planning, executing and delivering projects) that they can use. Scrum is one of the most popular agile processes used in Australia.

Agile processes are mainly adopted by IT development teams due to their flexibility and openness to change. The ability to adapt to change is important; sometimes project objectives and requirements evolve ahead of deadlines/release dates, so you have to be able to pivot and adjust what you’re doing! Because of this, Scrum is a useful method as it enables the release process to be smoother and adapts to change. In the world of IT, projects often change throughout their development.

Sprints are a period of time where specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. Sprint cycles are generally either two or four weeks long, depending on the release cycle. This short time-frame illustrates how crucial communication skills are within IT teams, as release teams have to be across any changes that take place (especially those that impact on deadlines).

The Scrum Master

The role of a Scrum Master is important to the success of an agile development team. They are the facilitator – the person who keeps track of sprints, workflow and so much more.

The Scrum Master is a valuable asset because they can remove project obstacles, and allow for continuous improvement and the maturing of processes. If something isn’t working, the Scrum Master will find alternative ways of ensuring teams can get back on track.

Encouraging collaboration between the Scrum Team, the product owner and stakeholders is an essential activity that is primarily dependent on the Scrum Master. This is how successful teams are created, through cross functionality whilst driving for continuous improvement. For students, being the Scrum Master can be a huge learning curve, but remember that with more practice and experience the easier it will flow.

How Scrum meetings work

The agreed objectives of any project are more achievable through using an agile cycle, which includes the daily Scrum meeting. The daily scrum is basically a catch up and review of the work that is assigned for that day. It allows for constant feedback regarding workload and the process.

These meetings are essential to the flow of each sprint as they allow for more clear and concise communication. The agile cycle also includes other important meetings which the scrum master is responsible for, such as product backlog grooming, sprint planning (identifying the number of story points and items of work that can be completed), sprint demo and sprint retrospective.

With this, the Scrum master’s organisation skills and attention to detail are key to this process. Consistent documentation and knowledge management is also important for the team to refer to and to ensure everyone is on the same page.

The Retrospective Meeting

Most agile workers would agree that the sprint retrospective meeting is vital. The Sprint Retrospective meeting is an opportunity for the whole Scrum Team to reflect and learn. This meeting is key in order for the agile process to develop and mature.

It’s the Scrum Master’s responsibility to ensure this type of meeting is not missed. Nowadays, the location of the meetings often tend to be virtual due to global locations of teams and working from home. Using tools such as Fun Retro are fundamental to the success of this meeting.

The Sprint Retrospective not only reflects on the work completed in the previous sprint, but inspects the process and tools for improvements and what the plan of action is going forward.

Putting it all together

Keeping across work methodologies like Scrum can help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to job applications. To make the most of your internship and workplace experience, make sure you ask your mentor about the different learning opportunities available to you. While you might not be able to participate directly in a Scrum, you might be able to observe it and see how it works. Staying eager to learn will get you far, and you never know – you might learn something that helps you get a new job, or even a promotion!

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