What Are the 3 Artifacts of Scrum?

Scrum is a popular Agile project management methodology that can help your team effectively complete projects, especially when quick turnarounds and multiple deliveries are required. One of the foundations of the Scrum framework is its three artifacts. These three artifacts of Scrum help capture and share vital project information with project teams.

Read on for a detailed look at the three different artifacts in Scrum and some essential tips for managing them throughout your next project. 

A little background on Scrum

Scrum is an Agile project management framework that embraces an iterative approach to project management

Teams new to Scrum may find it difficult to adopt because the framework has many unique roles, elements, and terms. For instance, a Scrum master, rather than a project manager, leads Scrum teams. The Scrum master’s main job is to support the team’s autonomy and remove obstacles the team encounters. 

Despite its unique aspects, Scrum shares many similarities with other Agile frameworks. Projects are broken down into sprints that typically last one to four weeks, and each sprint ends with the delivery of a workable version of the final project deliverable. Scrum Masters host daily standups throughout each sprint to keep the team focused and on the same page. 

How artifacts work within the Scrum framework

What are Scrum artifacts? They are simply tools that help teams implement the Scrum framework and complete projects successfully. 

Scrum artifacts help ensure your team accomplishes what it needs to within each project sprint and for the final project deliverable. The three artifacts of Scrum enable you to identify and document the work that must be done for the project to be successful. 

These artifacts capture essential information about what your team must complete and where their priorities lie. By maintaining up-to-date artifacts that are easily accessed by all stakeholders, you increase transparency, and everyone can stay on top of what's coming down the pipe for future work.

These documents help keep everyone on the same page, regardless of whether they are co-located or working remotely

What are the 3 artifacts of Scrum called?

  1. Product backlog
  2. Spring backlog
  3. Product increment

1. Product backlog

The product backlog is an ordered list of the features and requirements needed to complete your project. The list can include bugs or defects that need to be resolved, features that must be added, and other technical or project work your team has to complete before the project is over. The order of the list is based on priority — with the items at the top being either the most critical tasks or tasks requiring immediate completion.

The product backlog helps ensure everyone knows what the project requirements are and which ones have priority. It also helps your team address the remaining project scope requirements and how much time may be needed to complete them. 

Features are generally listed in the backlog as user stories, which describe how the features will be useful to the customer. 

The product backlog is often called a “living artifact” since it is continuously updated to reflect changes in the project and customer feedback. The process of updating the product backlog is called product backlog refinement or backlog grooming

2. Sprint backlog

Where the product backlog lists everything that needs to be accomplished before the end of the project, the sprint backlog includes only what needs to be completed during the current sprint. 

Since the sprint backlog covers your most current activities, it often has greater detail and more complete user stories than the rest of the product backlog. Your sprint backlog should include your release plan explaining how you intend to achieve the features and meet your sprint requirements.

Before each sprint begins, your team will conduct a sprint planning meeting where you review the product backlog with the product owner and determine which requirements will move into the sprint backlog and which will have to wait for future sprints. 

As with the product backlog, the sprint backlog is a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated as changes occur. Items can be removed if they become unnecessary and new items added as requirements change. 

3. Product increment

The product increment is often thought of as the most critical of the three artifacts of Scrum. It's the version of the product that will be delivered at the end of each sprint. 

While the sprint backlog outlines what must be completed within a sprint, the product increment details the outcome of all that work. The increment is a prototype, draft, or working version of the final product expected by the customer. 

At the end of the initial sprint, your team will deliver product version one, including all of that sprint’s backlog items. At the end of the second sprint, version two will be delivered. Version two of the product increment should include all of the features and requirements already delivered in version one and any changes, new features, and requirements added in the second sprint. 

Each product increment should include the features of the current sprint and fully integrate all backlog items completed to date, from all past sprints. 

Tips for managing Scrum artifacts

Here are six tips for managing your artifacts in Scrum: 

  1. Use a burndown chart. Though not one of the essential three Scrum artifacts, the burndown chart is a valuable Scrum tool. It’s a graphic that shows how quickly your team is completing items on the product backlog, and it helps illustrate how efficient your team is and helps you pinpoint resource and schedule issues. 
  2. Use Kanban boards. Kanban boards aren’t just for Kanban anymore. They can be a great way to track and manage your Scrum sprint backlog to increase visibility and quickly drag and drop cards as priorities and statuses change. 
  3. Adopt a release plan. Scrum for Dummies emphasizes the importance of having a timetable for the completion of project goals. A release plan can help keep your team on track and ensure spring and overall project requirements are completed efficiently. 
  4. Groom your backlogs regularly. The whole team should regularly review the backlogs, provide feedback, and communicate changes to keep everyone on the same page and ensure no key features are missed. 
  5. Refine as you progress. Don’t waste too much time trying to overly define items lower on the product backlog list. Put your effort into detailing the current sprint backlog and product increment. The rest can be flushed out as it moves up the priority list. 
  6. Have a clear definition of “done.” Every stakeholder should understand what is required for a product increment and sprint to be “done.” Document and share acceptance criteria, so there is no doubt whether something is complete before moving off the backlog. 

Scrum involves completing a list of tasks (your sprint backlog) within a short period (sprint) without losing sight of your overall project goals and requirements (the product backlog). Juggling all of this effectively requires a great deal of transparency, frequent communication, and confidence that all artifacts are up-to-date and correct. 

Wrike’s project management features can help boost communication and collaboration, while also ensuring everyone involved is working off the correct version of the artifacts. Our dynamic dashboards, multiple views (including Kanban boards), and real-time reports all provide you with all the tools you need to stay on top of your artifacts and successfully complete your project. Sign up for a free trial today and discover how Wrike can streamline your next Scrum project.

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