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Explore topics in Agile Software Development and Scrum to learn more about how these methodologies can improve your products and make the process more efficient.

Agile methodology is an alternative to traditional project management, typically used in software development. It helps teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints. Agile methodologies are an alternative to waterfall, or traditional sequential development. Agile development methodology provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout the development lifecycle.

Of all the agile methodologies, the Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities. Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing software projects and product or application development. Scrum focuses on project management institutions where it is difficult to plan ahead. In Scrum, projects are divided into succinct work cadences, known as sprints, which are typically one week, two weeks, or three weeks in duration. At the end of each sprint, stakeholders and team members meet to assess the progress of a project and plan its next steps. This allows a project’s direction to be adjusted or reoriented based on completed work, not speculation or predictions.

Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless. The Scrum framework is deceptively simple.

There are three core roles - Product Owner, Development Team and ScrumMaster. The Product Owner represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer. Scrum teams should have one Product Owner, and while they may also be a member of the development team, it is recommended that this role not be combined with that of ScrumMaster.

The Development Team is responsible for delivering potentially shippable product increments at the end of each Sprint. The Development Team in Scrum is

self-organizing and cross-functional skills who do the actual work such as analyze, design, develop, test, technical communication, document and etc.

The ScrumMaster acts as a facilitator for the Product Owner and the team. The ScrumMaster does not manage the team. The ScrumMaster helps the team remain creative and productive, while making sure its successes are visible to the Product Owner. The ScrumMaster also works to advise the Product Owner about how to maximize Return On Investment (ROI) for the team.

The first step in the Scrum process starts with the Product Backlog, which is a prioritized list of software requirements for the product. While anyone can add items to the Product Backlog, the Product Owner has the final say on the Product Backlog.

Each team chooses from the list of priorities and decides on their Sprint Backlog. The Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks that the team believes they can finish during the Sprint. During the Sprint, tasks are broken down into specific chunks of time. Each day, the time remaining on each task is updated. When the time remaining on the Sprint reaches zero, the team will provide a demonstration of the software to all involved.

During the course of the Scrum, a daily meeting will take place to update everyone on each team’s progress. A summary will be given of accomplishments since the last meeting, future plans and reasons why something was not accomplished. This allows the Scrum Master to see where each team is and possibly offer help, if required.

Agile development methodology helps companies build the right product. Instead of committing to market a piece of software that hasn’t even been written yet, agile empowers teams to continuously re-plan their release to optimize its value throughout development, allowing them to be as competitive as possible in the marketplace. Development using an agile methodology preserves a product’s critical market relevance and ensures a team’s work doesn’t wind up on a shelf, never released.