The New Scrum — Is It Better?

Last year, the people behind Scrum methodology announced an updated version of the Scrum guide, labelled The 2020 Scrum Guide. The latest iteration is explained to be cleaner, clearer, and more universal, as it intends to drive the team using it better towards succession.

To remember what exactly Scrum is, let’s look back into the definition from my previous article:

Scrum is a framework that helps teams work together on software development, it is a method that focuses on project leadership and how to manage it well until the team reaches the finished product. Scrum enables the team that uses it to sustain the development of complex products and is based on the values and principles of Agile methodology.

The Scrum methodology this course is using right now is still The 2017 Scrum Guide, which means it is outdated compared to the recently announced one. But what are the differences between the two versions and why one is better and more efficient than the other?

Firstly, let’s see what is removed from the older guide:

  • The typical three questions for the Daily Scrum;
  • Meeting after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions;
  • The use of an organization’s “Definition of Done”;
  • Progress monitoring methods towards the goal in Product Backlog;
  • The prescriptive elements of the Sprint Review;
  • The details on the outcomes defined in the purpose of the Sprint Retrospective;
  • The exact percentage of the capacity of the team for the Refinement session.

Removing all the previous Scrum components above does not mean that we also remove the core principles of Scrum itself. In fact, the removal is due to make scrum more efficient as we add new ways of bringing up the team together while still holding the core values of Scrum.

Here are the key changes made to The 2020 Scrum Guide:

  • The Introduction To Product Goal

The team will now direct their focus towards a larger objective, making their product closer to the overall goal every Sprint. Product Goal describes a future state of the product.

  • More Questions Asked In Sprint Planning

The new guide focuses on asking the ‘why’ part in planning a sprint, instead of ‘what’ and ‘how’, as it can heavily influence what the team must prioritize first to work on.

  • Artifacts Commitments

The 2020 Scrum Guide describes a commitment as:

“Each artifact contains a commitment to ensure it provides information that enhances transparency and focus against which progress can be measured.”

Providing a commitment to each of the artifacts brings more transparency and focus to the team progression on making a product.

Commitment: Product Backlog, Artifact: Product Goal

Commitment: Sprint Backlog, Artifact: Sprint Goal

Commitment: Increment, Artifact: the Definition of Done

  • More Self-Managing Team

Instead of a self-organizing team that decides how and who will do a particular work one-sided, the new guide proposes the team to self-manage, meaning they will be able to internally decide together who does what, when, and how.

  • Not Roles, Accountabilities

The newest guide replaces the term ‘role’ with “accountabilities”, in order to put an emphasis that each member has a set of responsibilities rather than job descriptions. The accountabilities consist of: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Developer.

Developer is a new accountability in this 2020 guide, where the previous one is referred to as ‘Development Team’. While just a simple name change, this provides a whole new context as the three accountabilities are more equal rather than one is higher than the other (‘us vs. them’). Each accountability has its own responsibility that has the same impact on the product, more or less.

  • A New Kind Of Leader

The term servant-leader was removed, and Scrum Masters are now described as “true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organization”.

Conclusions and Thoughts:

Using Scrum throughout this course has been a pleasant experience for me, as I just only learned it now and realized how effective it is for a team. But I’ll be lying if I say if it goes smoothly without minor setbacks. The fact is I actually didn’t know there is an updated version of Scrum and what my team is using is still the old one. A disadvantage I feel using the old Scrum is that we aren’t flexible enough to make changes and have to strictly follow the established Product Backlog Item that has been decided from the start, where changes of requirements are made during the time of the development and result in inconsistency. Meanwhile, the new guide allows the PBI to not be established in the early stages and is flexible enough to change following the situation of the development. Another disadvantage of the old guide is the notion of “us vs. them” where sometimes we, the development team, are feeling pressured to follow orders from both Product Owner, Client, and Scrum Master. The new guide fix this issue well by changing the term ‘roles’ into ‘accountabilities’ so that each member can feel the sense of equality and have more freedom to present ideas or even refuse.

What I hope in the future is that all the PPL class will start implementing the new 2020 Scrum guide in order to, as they stated —

”Drive the culture, focus, and alignment needed to innovate, create, and succeed.”

References Used:

Undergraduate Computer Science Student