You search the internet and find hundreds of sites providing different explanations about what Scrum is, and this confuses you. Some call it a process, and others call it a methodology and yet others call it a framework. So, which one is it?
Let’s have a look at some definitions from dictionaries to see if we can demystify this question and find an answer.
ProcessOxford Dictionary of English
A series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end.
MethodOxford Dictionary of English
A particular procedure or process for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one.
MethodologyOxford Dictionary of English
A system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity.
Now let’s have a closer look at what defines Scrum. Scrum defines:
- A set of values.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Activities and the order to execute them.
- Artifacts and how to use them.
Based on the definitions we see that a method can be a process and that both define ways to achieve an outcome.
The Scrum Activities are steps to achieve specified outcomes, the Artifacts. Each activity, e.g., Sprint Planning is a defined set of steps executed in a specified order by the Roles to produce the Sprint Backlog. You can consider the way to create the Sprint Backlog a method or a process. The same applies to the other Activities.
This explains why Scrum is often perceived as a methodology. There is a system of methods/processes there. When we take a closer look at the definitions, we see that Scrum is more like a framework. Scrum mixes in values, roles, and responsibilities, and artifacts and hence goes beyond a system of methods/methodology.
So, the final verdict is that Scrum is a framework to manage some processes. The next section provides a summary of the elements in the Scrum framework.
It’s not a big deal, but it matters that Scrum is a framework and not a methodology or a process. This suggests you can plug-in and plug-out elements within certain boundaries. We can add, extend, replace, remove and improve it to make it fit for our context. Scrum is not intended to be entirely prescriptive. It is empirical by design and provides teams a means to establish a hypothesis of how something works, try it out, reflect on the experience, and make adjustments.
Scrum Framework Summarized
The Values are Commitment, Courage, Focus, Openness, and Respect. For more details have a look at #Scrum Values
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles are Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Cross Functional and Self-Organising Teams. For more details have a look at #Scrum Roles. You can also find Scrum Coach as a complementary role.
The Activities are Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, and Daily Scrum. For more details have a look at #Scrum Events. You can also find Backlog Grooming as a complementary activity.
The Artifacts are Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burn-down Chart, Potentially Shippable Product Increment. You can also find complimentary artifacts, like the Definition of Done, the Definition of Ready, an Impediments List. For more details have a look at #Scrum Artifacts