What Is Scrum?
A lean approach to software development
Scrum is an agile software development framework. Work is structured in cycles of work called sprints, iterations of work that are typically two to four weeks in duration. During each sprint, teams pull from a prioritized list of customer requirements, called user stories, so that the features that are developed first are of the highest value to the customer. At the end of each sprint, a potentially shippable product is delivered.
A simple framework
Scrum is made up of three roles, three ceremonies, and three artifacts.
Three roles: the Product Owner, who is responsible for the business value of the project; the ScrumMaster, who ensures that the team is functional and productive; and the self-organized team. Read more about Scrum roles.
Three ceremonies: the sprint planning meeting, daily scrum meetings, and sprint review meetings. Read more about Scrum ceremonies.
Three artifacts for prioritizing and tracking tasks: the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and a burndown chart. Read more about Scrum artifacts.
A time-tested process
When Jeff Sutherland created the scrum process in 1993, he borrowed the term "scrum" from an analogy put forth in a 1986 study by Takeuchi and Nonaka, published in the Harvard Business Review. In that study, Takeuchi and Nonaka compare high-performing, cross-functional teams to the scrum formation used by Rugby teams. Ken Schwaber formalized the process for the worldwide software industry in the first published paper on Scrum at OOPSLA 1995. (Download Ken's whitepaper on Scrum.)
Since then, Scrum has become one of the leading agile development methodologies, used by fortune 500 companies around the world, as you can see by glancing through the list of Scrum Alliance members and their companies.