What are Scrum Artifacts?
Scrum Artifacts are critical for the success of any Scrum Team and defines all the work that needs to be done in a project. Scrum Artifacts is all the information that the team and stakeholders use to describe the product or service which is being developed, the actions required to produce it, and the tasks which are to be performed throughout the project.
There are three Scrum Artifacts, each of which we will explore in more detail in this article. The artifacts are essentially different categories, and comprise the below:
- Product Backlog
- Sprint Backlog
- Product increment
The three artifacts show the progress the Scrum team has made and what steps are needed to be taken next. In doing so, they ensure that the team all have the same level of knowledge and that all progress made by the Development Team remains transparent. We will explore each of the artifacts in more detail next.
The Product Backlog is one of the three core scrum artifacts and helps guide and manage your work as a team. This is a list of all features, functions, and requirements that might be necessary for the product. The Product Backlog is continuously evolving and is updated as new information comes to light. Subsequently, it is sometimes referred to as a ‘live’ artifact. The Backlog is dependent on input sources such as market demands, feedback, and competitor analysis.
Keeping the Product Backlog up to date is beneficial as it ensures the team knows what the project requirements are, and which ones have priority.
You can read more about Product Backlog in our article [here].
The Sprint Backlog is the list of everything needed in the current Sprint and is composed of a set of Product Backlog Items and the task needed for delivering those items. While the Product Backlog lists everything that needs to be delivered by the end of the project, the Sprint Backlog includes only what needs to be delivered in the current Sprint. It, therefore, has more specific detail on each item than the rest of the Product Backlog.
Before each Sprint, the Scrum Team will hold a Sprint Planning Meeting where they decide which items on the Product Backlog should be added to the Sprint Backlog. Consequently, the items on the Sprint Backlog must be delivered during the current Sprint. This artifact is beneficial as it provides an accurate picture of the work the Development Team plans to accomplish.
Similarly to the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog should be regularly reviewed and updated. Tasks should be removed if they become redundant and new tasks added as information and knowledge increase. It should have enough detail that the team can inspect their progress in the Daily Scrum.
The Product Increment is the version of the product, or a part of the product, that will be delivered at the end of each Sprint. An item from the Sprint Backlog becomes part of the Product Increment once the Scrum Team sets it as complete. This is often considered the most crucial of the three artifacts of Scrum. And for good reason, as it provides tracking for work that has been delivered by the team in each Sprint.
Work cannot be considered part of an Increment unless it meets the Definition of Done. The Team must have a shared understanding of ‘Done’ to assess when work is completed and ensure transparency.
4 tips for managing Scrum Artifacts Effectively
It is crucial to understand the Product Backlog, Product Backlog Items and the Refinement process in detail if you are using Scrum. Every individual who has started to work on agile methodology must know about the practices and processes of the Scrum framework. It might therefore be a good idea to consider a scrum course to make sure you are up to scratch.
Scrum Teams that doesn’t name their Product Backlog Items well end up with an incoherent Product Backlog. Good names have consistency and explanation which is not always easy. Use descriptive naming, be consistent in the terms you use and minimize length.
Apply burndown charts
There are two types of burndown charts: Sprint Burndown and Release Burndown.
A Sprint Burndown Chart is a valuable tool for the Scrum Team because it makes their work visible and helps them to forecast if they are reaching the Sprint Goal or not. If not, the Developers must make the appropriate actions to come back on track. This is often done by finding a shorter path to the Sprint Goal than the original one.
A Release Burndown Chart is a valuable tool for the Product Owner to evaluate if the long term plan, covering many sprints, still is valid. If not, the Product Owner must reprioritse the Product Backlog.
Have a clear definition of done
It is vital to have a clear Definition of Done. The Definition of Done ensures that everyone on the Team knows exactly what is expected of everything the Scrum Team delivers. If a Product Backlog Item doesn’t have a clear definition of done, it shouldn’t be presented at the Sprint Review.
Make use of Backlog Refinement
A Product Backlog is never complete; it is a constantly changing entity that needs care and attention. Backlog Refinement is used to discuss, review and prioritize items in the Backlog. The goal of Backlog Refinement is to keep the Backlog up-to-date and to make sure that its items are prepared for upcoming Sprints.
Summary of the Scrum Artifacts
The Scrum Artifacts are an essential part of the Scrum framework. Scrum involves completing a list of items (from the Sprint Backlog) within a short period (the Sprint) without losing sight of the overall project goal (the Product Backlog). Maintaining all of these elements requires strong collaboration between the team, regular communication, transparency and confidence that artifacts are up to date and correct.