The way software is developed and deployed experienced an explosive change within the last two decades. Agile methods and practices lead this change and continue to gain momentum.
Agile practices, are exceptionally positioned to allow businesses to take techniques that have been wildly successful in the demanding field of software development and apply them to the general business environment at large.
Scrum, an iterative and incremental Agile software development framework, is arguably the most popular of these practices—to the point where it is now considered conventional within the IT industry. This makes knowledge of Agile and Scrum crucial for any individual in the IT industry.
In fact, a recent survey shows growing interest in Scrum outside of IT as well, proving its effectiveness:
- 41% in the IT industry
- 12% in Finance
- 6% in Government
- 6% in Healthcare
- 5% in Telecommunications
The basics of Agile and Scrum
Agile came into existence in the IT industry in the 1990s, when it was not so popular as it is now. Agile got some of its inspiration from the lean methodologies practiced by the Japanese manufacturing companies several decades ago.
Its basis is the Agile Manifesto, which is made up of 12 Agile principles. These principles can be combined into the 4 core guidelines listed below.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Scrum framework was invented by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in the 1990s. Scrum unlike the Agile principles is a practical framework with clear rules on how it can be implemented. Scrum gained popularity after the millennium.
Scrum is defined as a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.
Per the Scrum guide, Scrum is a framework that has been used to manage complex product development since the early 1990s. Scrum is not a process or a technique for building products; rather, it is a framework within which you can employ various processes and techniques. Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and development practices so that you can improve.
Learn more about Agile & Scrum with these free online resources
- Scrum Guide [PDF]: I firmly believe that taking shortcuts don’t help when trying to learn something new. If you take shortcuts, you may miss out on the deeper understanding of the topic. Same thing goes for Scrum. The Scrum Guide is like the gold source of the Scrum framework. It is written by the inventors of Scrum in a simple yet clear form. The framework rules listed in it are very light hence readers can adapt from the simplicity as long as the rules are followed.
- Agile Manifesto: The Agile manifesto is the equivalent of the Scrum guide for Agile. The Agile manifesto can be considered the absolute source for all things Agile. If you are not following the principles listed in the Agile manifesto, then probably you are not truly Agile. The principles may seem subjective and loose but that was the intent of the Agile manifesto.
- Scrum Alliance: Scrum alliance is a non-profit organisation that has arguably become the largest hub for Scrum resources. On the Scrum alliance website, you can find lots of material on Scrum, articles from members, reports on the state of Scrum, information about Scrum events, and guidelines on professional development. It is a great free resource for Scrum enthusiasts who are looking to move forward in their professional career.
- Agile Alliance: This site is for Agile, what Scrum Alliance is for Scrum. Agile alliance is a nonprofit organisation with global membership, committed to advancing Agile development principles and practices.
- Scrum.org: This site was founded by the inventor of Scrum, Ken Schwaber. Here you can find articles on Scrum, the fundamentals of Scrum, Scrum glossary, the guide to nexus which is a Scrum at scale framework.
- Mountain Goat Software: This is an another exceptional hub for Agile and Scrum resources. It was created by Mike Cohn who started using Scrum since 1994. He has vast experience and in-depth knowledge of Agile and Scrum. He has written several books on Agile and that has helped him gain his credibility.
- Trello and ReQtest: Personally I found that implementing Scrum has given me more knowledge about Scrum than just learning the theory of Scrum. A great place to start with implementation is Trello, a Kanban tool which can be used for Agile projects. It is free and can be used by any organisation or company. However, it’s very likely that at some point you’ll mature beyond Trello and start finding it too basic. I recommend you take a look at ReQtest when that happens, since it offers more features and advanced options for teams working on complex projects.
- Scrum or Agile Google Groups: One of the quickest and easiest way to learn more about Scrum is to converse with people who are interested in learning it too. This could be done by joining a local Scrum or Agile user group. It is free and members are typically very open about sharing their first hand experiences from which you could progress at a much faster pace.
- Scrum Meetup Events: Another invaluable free resource is meetup, which can be used for meeting local Scrum and Agile enthusiasts. This is a very underestimated tool because the knowledge gained by attending lectures on Agile or Scrum topics is not even comparable to the knowledge gained by book learning. It is free and easy to use.
- ScrumHub: ScrumHub is another excellent free resource for guides, videos, articles, and blogs about Scrum.
- Scaled Agile Framework: The Scaled Agile Framework emerged due to common problem faced by large organisations trying to implement Scrum or Agile. This framework addresses the scaling pains faced by several companies in the last decade or so. It has a lot of free resources on how to make Agile work in large organisations.
- Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is a gamified question and answer tool which is a good resource to go to if you have learnt the theory of Agile but have questions on implementation. In my career, I have learnt more from answering questions than from reading answers, so it is also a good way to test your skills and get appreciated for it.
- Wikipedia: An extremely underestimated free resource for Agile and Scrum fundamental knowledge is Wikipedia. The best thing about it is that it is living web document and is constantly kept up-to-date by volunteer writers.
- Collabnet: A player in the Agile market for more than a decade now. They have brilliant short e-learning videos on Agile concepts.
- And finally, our own blog: We have written tons of articles over the years, many of them on Agile topics. If you haven’t subscribed to our newsletter yet, I strongly suggest you join the 20,000+ people that get the latest blog post every week. Sign up here!
- There has been a sudden increase in use of Agile and Scrum by organisations within the last two decades.
- A recent survey has shown that Scrum was used 41% in the IT industry, 12% in Finance, 6% in Government, 6% in Healthcare and 5% in Telecommunications.
- Our list of 15 free Agile and Scrum resources – Scrum Guide, Agile Manifesto, Scrum Alliance, Agile Alliance, Scrum.org, Mountain Goat Software, Trello, Scrum Google Groups, Scrum Meetup Events, ScrumHub, Scaled Agile Framework, Stack Overflow, Wikipedia, Collabnet, and, of course, this blog!
There is no doubt that Scrum has become the mainstream Agile methodology in the IT industry. Research has shown that it is even spreading beyond IT into domains such as healthcare, finance and government.
With the growing popularity of Scrum and Agile, it has become easier than ever to find free resources to learn it theoretically. However, don’t just stop at theoretical learning because the best learning happens when Scrum is implemented over and over again in various different scenarios!