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What is Agile Scrum and why should you use it when designing IT systems?

co to jest agile i scrum

When commissioning an IT company to develop a dedicated system, it is worth knowing the methods in which the development team preparing your project will operate. Nowadays, many IT companies, including ours, work according to the principles contained in the Agile and Scrum methodologies. So what are these two terms and why should you use them when developing IT systems?

From our article you will learn:

What is Agile?

Agile software development is an agile development methodology, created as an alternative to traditional working methods (e.g. Waterfall). Agile is actually a way of thinking about a project, the philosophy of which includes various project methodologies such as Scrum, Lean, Extreme Programming, Kanban, and ASD. All of them, despite some differences, share a common perception of the reality of IT projects. This was outlined in the Agile Manifesto published in 2001 by a group of seventeen software engineering professionals, proclaiming that agile programming is based on the following principles:

  • people and interaction over processes and tools,
  • working software over extensive documentation,
  • cooperation with the client beyond formal arrangements,
  • responding to change over and above following a plan.

agile waterfall

It is worth emphasising here, however, that Agile does not reject a process approach, the creation of documentation, formal agreements or plans, as its opponents often accuse it of doing. Instead, it says that these elements are less important than good collaboration between people, working code or adaptation to the current market situation and the degree of knowledge that may have changed during the course of the project. In fact, it is a set of good practices that allows the creation of flexible and modern solutions, tailored to real and current business needs.


What is Scrum and how does it work?

The Scrum method is one of the most popular agile approaches to software development. Its idea is based on delivering a system to the customer in parts. In practice, during regular monthly meetings, finished “pieces” of the programme, e.g. individual modules, are presented. Development work takes place in so-called sprints, i.e. short stages during which the client has an overview of the progress of activities.

This form enables changes to be made to the project on an ongoing basis, which on the one hand speeds up the work and implementation of the solution, and on the other allows the direction of the project to be changed if the need arises. For example, when it turns out that a particular functionality is no longer needed and should be replaced by something else.

Working on a project in the Scrum methodology usually starts with defining the product vision – its main goal. In contrast, it is not necessary to define precisely and in advance the operation of each of its functions. This is why many people are used to the traditional, cascading project creation, where first there are long (even months) planning sessions and only then the work on the system starts, according to a detailed plan, created mostly on a rigid basis, find it difficult to find their way in the scrum reality.

(Read more: How to choose the right software house and IT company billing models: Fixed Price, Time and Materials, subscription

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What are the roles in a scrum team? Who are the Scrum Master and Product Owner?

Scrum is a word borrowed from sporting terminology, specifically from the team game of rugby, in which the players form what is known as a ‘grinder’, and literally translated it is what Scrum means. This is a very apt borrowing, as working in Scrum is precisely a team game. Just like on the football pitch, there is no hierarchy of importance, i.e. a supervisor-employee relationship.

The scrum team is set up to have the necessary competencies to deliver the product. It is usually made up of three to nine specialists (analysts, testers, developers) and is usually called a development team. Each of its members has an equal position in decision-making and task completion, acting as an essential link on the way to achieving the goal. The people selected for scrum teams usually have different, complementary competencies. This makes it possible to create a top-quality product that responds to all customer needs.

agile scrum sprint

Two people work closely with the development team:

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master

The Product Owner acts as a representative of the customer. He has a vision for the product, manages tasks and sets priorities for the team. Decides what is most important at any given time. He indicates the direction of the work to the team, communicates the requirements from the customer and makes sure they are fulfilled.

The Scrum Master makes sure that the team works according to the principles adopted in Scrum, as well as removes any obstacles that prevent the task from being completed. He or she focuses on how the team works and then shares his or her observations, thereby helping to make the development team more efficient.


Where can Scrum be used?

As we mentioned earlier, Scrum works best for IT projects. At Kotrak, we primarily use work in accordance with Scrum methodology for the development of dedicated systems, as well as in projects involving the adaptation of various modules and the integration of different programmes. In this way, our clients can follow the progress of the development work in real-time and thus react to the solutions introduced by accepting or changing them on the fly.

Scrum allows us to work dynamically on a project, thus facilitating the creation of a solution that is fully tailored to the needs of a particular business. However, its methodology is not only applicable to IT and web services.

According to the Scrum Master Trends report, the methodology also works well in industries such as:

  • finance and insurance
  • consulting
  • engineering and technology solutions
  • telecommunications
  • logistics

Scrum works well in project activities, where the final product has to respond to the customer’s needs on the one hand and, on the other, be a flexible tool that can be further developed according to new requirements in the future.

(Read more: What technologies are used to create dedicated applications?)

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What tools are used when working in the Scrum methodology?

To work in the Scrum methodology on IT projects, tools are used that support three aspects:

  • source code management,
  • Product Backlog management (i.e. a list of tasks to be performed),
  • managing group work.

At Kotrak, we primarily use Jira Software when working on scrum projects. It’s a tool that provides us with agile software collaboration, allowing teams to plan, execute and summarise sprints accordingly. Jira also provides an easy way to view the progress of projects and thus stay up to date with the milestones.

tools for working in the Scrum methodology

In addition, we use the Jira system for subsequent maintenance and development, after the system has been implemented. In this way, our customers can quickly and easily report faults and problems to our helpdesk, as well as track their progress.


Why use Agile and Scrum when developing IT projects?

Applying Agile and Scrum principles to IT project development influences:

  • flexibility of the solution,
  • high system customisation,
  • facilitate the further development of the programme, thereby supporting the growth of the client company,
  • faster and more efficient implementation of the project, by being able to react to individual elements on the fly.

Agile in its conception also supports communication between the client and the software company. Doing so streamlines the entire project development process and allows good business relationships to be built.

Working according to the Scrum methodology may not seem easy at first. Scrum is extremely simple to understand but can be difficult to master. However, it is worthwhile to focus on it, as it allows great scope for optimising activities, solving complex problems and thus delivering an efficient, flexible and effective product of the highest quality.

Working in Scrum can be compared to a mirror, in which you look at the results of your actions every day and, if you are not satisfied with them, you change your way of doing things, developing a new, more effective one. Scrum unleashes innovation in the team, breaking out of established, standard patterns while providing effective tools to control project implementation.

(Read more: How to choose the web/mobile/desktop application type? and UX & UI – useful designing of custom-made applications)

This article was written in collaboration with Anna Ornat, Project Manager at Kotrak


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