The Agile Revolution

The top companies worldwide are turning to Agile methodologies including Scrum. Scrum enables you to tackle complex and unpredictable projects with greater confidence and lower risk than traditional waterfall methods. But that is the "why" of Scrum - below is a quick summary of "what" of scrum?

Mock CSM test

Our mock test prepares you for the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) evaluation.

The WhatIsScrum practice test is very similar to the one you can expect after attending the prerequisite 2 day course CSM Course. In fact it has been created by experienced Scrum Masters who are familiar with the latest exam format for 2014. Remember CSM is not just for would-be Scrum Masters. It is for any member of a Scrum team. As well as grading your test we will also provide you with detailed feedback and ongoing references for every question.

The CSM Mock test take might be taken as practice before you sit the real test, or you might just be interested to know just how Scrummy you are before attending a job interview. Either way - good luck and happy studies!

What is Scrum?

Scrum roles

Within a Scrum project there are three defined roles you should know about: the Product Owner, who is responsible for the product, the Scrum Master who owns the process and coaches The Team (5 to 9 people), who are responsible for doing the work.

Sprints

Scrum projects are broken down in to smaller chunks, known as sprints, which typically will be 2-4 weeks long. The end result of the Sprint will be potentially production-ready code, i.e. full vertical slices of functionality.

Sprint planning

Before the Sprint starts there is the Sprint planning session. During this period the team will agree and volunteer to take on tasks from the Product backlog (prioritised by the Product Owner). These items get moved in to the Sprint backlog. In simple terms the Product and Sprint backlog can be just thought of as a task list for the project, and a list for the Sprint.

There will often be a tension between the Product Owner and The Team over what gets included in each Sprint. Although the business priority is defined by the Product Owner, the technical complexity of a specific feature might mean it is prudent to deliver it in an earlier sprint. The Sprint planning is an opportunity for such negotation.

The teams' self-assignment of tasks is a key feature that ensures Scrum projects experience increased motivation levels that are often absent in traditional top-down management approaches. Individuals volunteer for tasks and have a forum to state whether they can deliver on time.

Daily scrum

Once a Sprint commences, and the team are focussed on delivering the Sprint backlog, the communication aspects still remain. A key feature of Scrum is the Daily Scrum or "Stand-up" which is characterised by being a brief session to report on:

  1. Progress made in the past day
  2. Intentions for the coming day
  3. A chance to report any impediments
  4. That's it!

The Scrum Master coaches, supports and protects the development team during the Sprint. The Daily Scrum should provide an open forum where the team should feel comfortable to speak freely and without any line-management pressures.

End of sprint

The sprint cycle is followed by a Sprint retrospective. This is a forum to review what went well (and what did not) in the last Sprint with the view to build on this knowledge for the next Sprint. As well as building better processes it also enhances team motivation as opportunities to voice frustrations and issues can be aired and hopefully resolved.

The whole Sprint cycle repeats until all of the requirements from the Product backlog are delivered.

Further reading

View our reading recommendations in the right hand column. Start with our free 2 minute cheat-sheet, then visit Scrum 101, also the free official Scrum Guide, Do Better Scrum and the Scrum Primer and if you wish to build on this then we recommend the excellent reference Succeeding with Agile.

Updated 15 May 2012

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Free cheat sheet

cheat sheet Download our free 2 minute cheat-sheet for a summary of the key aspects that you need to know to pass the Certified Scrum Master test. Either stick it on your desk or give it to your team.

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