SCRUM Guide 2020

(Read this several times)


Scrum is a framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.

It requires a Scrum Master, to foster an environment where:

  • A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog
  • The Scrum Team turns a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint
  • The Scrum Team and its stakeholders inspect the results and adjust for the next Sprint

The Scrum framework is purposefully incomplete, only defining the parts required to implement Scrum theory. Rather than provide people with detailed instructions, the rules of Scrum guide their relationships and interactions. Scrum makes visible the relative efficacy of current management, environment and work techniques, so that improvements can be made.

Scrum Theory

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking.

  • Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed.
  • Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and to control risk. It engages groups of people who collectively have the skills to do the work and share or acquire such skills. Scrum combines four formal events for inspection and adaption within a fifth containing event, the Sprint.

The empirical Scrum pillars are:

  • transparency
  • inspection
  • adaption


The process and work must be visible to those performing the work as well as those receiving the work. Transparency enables Inspection. Inspection without transparency is misleading and wasteful.


The Scrum artifacts and the progress towards agreed goals must be inspected frequently to detect potentialy undesirable variances or problems. Inspection enables adaption. Inspection without adaptions is pointless.

Scrum events are designed to provoke change.


If any aspects of a process deviate outside of acceptable limits or if the resulting product is unacceptable, the process being applied or the materials being produced must be adjusted. The adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.

Adaption becomes more difficult when the people involved are not empowered or self-managing. A Scrum Team is expected to adapt the moment it learns anything new through inspection.

Scrum Values

They are:

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Courage

The primary focus of the Scrum Team is on the work of the Sprint to make the best possible progress toward these goals.

The Scrum Team and its stakeholders are open about the work and the challenges. The Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people and are respected as such. The team members have the courage to do the right thing, to work on though problems.

These values give direction to the Scrum Team with regard to their work, actions and behavior. All actions should reinforce these values, not diminish or undermine them.

Scrum Team

Scrum defines three specific accountabilities within the Scrum Team: Developers, Product Owner and Scrum Master.

Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies. It’s a cohesive unit of professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal.

Scrum Teams are cross-functional. The members have all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint. They’re also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.

The Scrum Team is small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work with a Sprint, typically 10 or fewer people, as they communicate better and are more productive.
If teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple Teams, each focused on the same product, sharing the same goal, backlog and product owner.

The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities from stakeholder collaboration, verification, maintenance, operation, experimentation, research and development, and anything else that might be required. They are structured and empowered to manage their own work. Working in Sprints at a sustainable pace improves the Team focus and consistency.

The entire Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint.


Developers are people in the Scrum Team that are commited to creating any aspect of a usable Increment each Sprint. They are not restricted to programmers. They may also be researches, analysts, etc.

They’re accountable for:

  • Create a plan for the Sprint, the Sprint Backlog.
  • Instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done
  • Adapting their plan each day toward the Sprint Goal
  • Holding each other accountable

Product Owner

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. How this is done may vary widely.

It’s accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal
  • Creating and communicating Product Backlog Items
  • Ordering Product Backlog Items
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood

The Product Owner may do the above work or delegate the responsibility to others. He remains accountable, regardless of what he does.

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. He may represent the needs of many stakeholders in the Product Backlog. Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by convincing the Product Owner.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide.
They help everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization.

The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework.

The Scrum Master serves the Scrum Team, as he:

  • Coaches the team members in self-management and cross-functionality
  • Helps the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done
  • Causes the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress
  • Ensures that all scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner, as he:

  • Helps to find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management
  • Helps the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items
  • Helps establish empirical product planning for a complex environment
  • Facilitates stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed

The Scrum Master serves the Organization, as he:

  • Leads, trains, and coaches the organization in its Scrum adoption
  • Plans and advises Scrum implementations withint the organization
  • Helps employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work
  • Removes barries between stakeholders and Scrum Teams

Scrum Events

The Sprint is a container for all other events. Each event is an opportunity to inspect and adapt Scrum artifacts. These events are designed for transparency. Events are used to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. Optimally, all events are held at the same time and place to reduce complexity.

The Sprint

They’re fixed lengths events of one month or less to create consistency. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

All the necessary work happens within Sprints.

During the Sprint:

  • No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal.
  • Quality does not decrease.
  • The Product Backlog is refined as needed.
  • Scope may be clarified and renegotiated with the Product Owner as more is learned.
    Sprints enable predictability by ensuring inspection and adaption at least every calendar month. When a Sprint’s horizon is too long the Sprint Goal may become invalid, complexity may rise and risk may increase.

Shorter Sprints can be employed to generate more learning cycles and limit risk of cost and effort to a smaller time frame. Each Sprint may be considered a short project.

A Sprint could be cancelled if the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete. Only the Product Owner has the authority to cancel the Sprint.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning initiates the Sprint by laying out the work to be performed for the Sprint. This resulting plan is created by the collaborative work of the entire Scrum Team.

The Product Owner ensures that attendees are prepared to disscuss the most important Product Backlog items and how they map to the Product Goal. The Scrum Team may algo invite other people to attend Sprint Planning to provide advice.

Sprint Planning addreses the following topics:

Topic One: Why is this Sprint valuable?

The Product Owner proposes how the product could increase its value and utility in the current Sprint. The whole Scrum Team then collaborates to define a Sprint Goal that communicates why the Sprint is valuable to stakeholders. The Sprint Goal must be finalized prior to the end of Sprint Planning.

Topic Two: What can be done this Sprint?

Though discussion with the Product Owner, the Developers select items from the Product Backlog to include in the current Sprint. The Scrum Team may refine these items during this process, which increases understaning and confidence.

The more the developers know about past performances, upcoming capacity and Definition of Done, the more confident they will be in their Sprint forecasts.

Topic Three: How will the chosen work get done?

For each selected Product Backlog item, the Developers plan the work necessary to create an Increment that meets the Definition of Done. This is done by decomposing Product Backlog into smaller work items of one day or less. How this is done is at the Developer’s discretion. No one else tells them how to turn Product Backlog items into Increments of value.

The Sprint Goal, the Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus the plan for delivering them are together referred to as the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Planning is timeboxed to a max. of eight hours for a one-month Sprint.

Daily Scrum

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team, optionally, the Product Owner and Scrum Master may also participate if they’re actively working on items. To reduce complexity, it’s held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint.

The Developers can select whatever structure and techniques they want, as long as the Daily focuses on progress towards the Sprint Goal, and produces an actionable plan for the next day of work.

Dailies improve communications, identify impediments, promote quick decision-making and consequently eliminate the need for other meetings.

This is not the only time Developers are allowed to adjust their plan. They often meet throughout the day for more detailed discussions about adapting or re-planning the rest of the Sprint’s work.

Sprint Review

The purpose of the Sprint Review is to inspect the outcome of the Sprint and determine future adaptions. The Scrum Team presents the result of their work to key stakeholders and progress towards the Product Goal is discussed.

During the event, the Scrum Team and stakeholders review what was accomplished in the Sprint and what has changed in their environment. Based on this information, attendees collaborate on what to do next. The Product Backlog may also be adjusted to meet new opportunities. The Sprint Review is a working session and the Scrum Team should avoid limiting it to a presentation.

The Sprint Review is the second to last event of the Sprint and is timeboxed to a max. of four hours for a one-month Sprint.

Sprint Retrospective

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.

The Scrum Team inspects how the last Sprint went with regards to individuals, interactions, processes, tools and their Definition of Done. Inspected elements often vary with the domain of work. Assumptions that led them astray are identified and their origins explored. The Scrum Team discusses what went well during the Sprint, what problems it encountered, and how those problems were (or not) solved.

The Scrum Team identifies the most helpful changes to improve its effectiveness. The most impactful improvements are addressed as soon as possible. They may even be added to the Sprint Backlog for the next Sprint.

The Sprint Retrospective concludes the Sprint. It’s timeboxed to a max. of three hours for a one-month Sprint.

Sprint Event Max. duration for a 1 month Sprint
Sprint Planning 8 hours
Sprint Review 4 hours
Sprint Retrospective 3 hours

Scrum Artifacts

Scrum Artifacts represent work or value. They’re designed to maximize transparency. Everyone inspecting them has the same basis for adaptation.

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

  • For the Product Backlog, it’s the Product Goal.
  • For the Sprint Backlog, it’s the Sprint Goal.
  • For the Increment, it’s the Definition of Done.

Product Backlog

The Product Backlog is an emergent, ordered list of what’s needed to improve the product. It’s the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team.

Product Backlog items that can be done by the Scrum Team within one Sprint are deemed ready of selection in a Sprint Planning event. They acquire this degree of transparency after refining activities. Product Backlog refinement is the act of breaking down and further defining Product Backlog items into smaller more precise items. This is an ongoing activity to add details, such as description, order, and size.

The Developers who will be doing the work are responsible for the sizing. The Product Owner may influence the Developers by helping them understand and select trade-offs.

Commitment: Product Goal

The Product Goal descibes a future state of the product which can serve as a target for the Scrum Team to plan against. The Product Goal is in the Product Backlog. The rest of the Product Backlog emerges to define “what” will fulfill the Product Goal.

A product is a vehicle to deliver value. It has a clear boundary, known stakeholders, well-defined users or customers. A product could be a service, a physical product, or something more abstract.

The Product Goal is the long-term objective for the Scrum Team. They must fulfill (or abandon) one objective before taking on the next.

Spring Backlog

The Sprint Backlog is composed of the Sprint Goal (why), the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint (what), as well as an actionable plan for the delivering the Increment (how).

The Sprint Backlog is a plan by and for the Developers. It’s a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Developers plan to accomplish during the Sprint in order to achieve the Sprint Goal.
Consequently, the Sprint Backlog is updated throughout the Sprint as more is learned. It should have enough detail that they can inspect their progress in the Daily Scrum.

Commitment: Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. Algouth the Sprint Goal is a commitment by the Developers, it provides flexibility in terms of the exact work needed to achieve it. The Sprint Goal also creates coherence and focus, encouraging the Scrum Team to work together.

The Sprint Goal is created during the Sprint Planning event and then added to the Sprint Backlog. As the Developers work during the Sprint, they keep the Sprint Goal in mind. If the work turns out to be different than they expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of the Sprint Backlog within the Sprint without affecting the Sprint Goal.


An Increment is a concrete stepping stone towawrds the Product Goal. Each Increment is additive to all prior Increments and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together. **In order to provide value, the Increment must be usable. **

Multiple Increments may be created within a Sprint. The sum of the Increments is presented at the Sprint Review. An Increment may be delivered to stakeholders prior to the end of the Sprint. The Sprint Review should never be considered a gate to releasing value.

Work cannot be considered part of an Increment unless it meets the Definition of Done.

Commitment: Definition of Done

The Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product.

An Increment is a Product Backlog item that meets the Definition of Done.

The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the Increment. If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it returns to the Product Backlog for future consideration.

If the Definition of Done for an increment is part of the standards of the organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If it’s not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropiate for the product.

The Developers are required to conform to the Definition of Done. If there’re multiple Scrum Teams working together on a product, they must mutually define and comply with the same Definition of Done.