The Scrum framework defines several meetings as part of iterative project delivery. Formalizing these as means of communication and progress management is one of the key strengths of the framework. To help manage this, a number of artifacts are defined. These aid with planning and control of the work being carried out in each iteration.
The Importance of Scrum Artifacts
Good communication and proper planning are at the heart of the Scrum framework. The Scrum team plans each iteration carefully, taking into account all the tasks that remain and the team’s capacity.
Such communication and planning need a way to measure work planned and in progress. This is where the Scrum Artifacts come in. Scrum defines specific key pieces of information that are used to define work to be completed and to measure project progress. The most important are the Product Backlog, the Scrum Backlog, and the Increment.
The Product Backlog
The Product Backlog is a complete list of all work tasks (known as items) that are required for the whole project. Items are ordered within the list by priority.
The Product Owner (a role defined in the Scrum framework) is responsible for creating and maintaining the Product Backlog. This includes confirming the priority of items and ensuring that items are sufficiently divided to make them includable in a Scrum Sprint.
The Sprint Backlog
The Product Backlog needs to be split up into smaller sets of work items for each Sprint. The resulting list to be delivered in a single Sprint is known as the Sprint Backlog. The contents of this are determined in the Sprint Planning meeting that takes place before the start of each Sprint.
To decide on content, the team will take into account the current project requirements, the value or priority of the remaining items, and the capacity of the team. This discussion involves all team members, the Scrum Master, and the Product Owner – but the team members should have the final say on item inclusion.
The Sprint Backlog also includes a Sprint Goal. This is likewise defined during the Sprint Planning meeting. It sets the high-level objective for what the team aims to achieve during that Sprint. This is a crucial factor to be reviewed during each Daily Scrum meeting to ensure progress and highlight problems early.
An increment refers to all the Product Backlog items that were completed during a Sprint. As each Sprint completes, the items that are complete are marked as a ‘done’ increment.
To ensure items are marked as completed correctly, a formal Definition of Done, or DOD, is set that all team members must follow. If the work item meets the definition, it is added to the Increment. If it does not, it is returned to the Product Backlog.