Inception Scrum

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Jul 29, 2023

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Inception Scrum  

A strong start is crucial for any project to increase its chances of successful completion. In this regard, the inception phase and Scrum often complement each other, leading to a special project kick-off. During this phase, the Project Owner assembles a Scrum Team, which collaboratively works toward delivering the initial pieces of the project. The Project Owner takes the lead in these meetings and provides the team with all the relevant information needed for the upcoming crucial phases of the project. The aim is to ensure everyone on the team is well-informed and aligned with the project's vision and goals. In the inception of Scrum, the team comes together to discuss and analyze all available information. The ultimate objective of this meeting is to foster effective communication and cultivate a shared understanding among all team members. 

Understanding Agile teachings  

While the Scrum Guide does not mention much about Kick-off, Inception, or other specific ceremonies that help establish a shared understanding of the project, this is the case for most things spoken about in Agile.

Only in texts that expand on the original Scrum Guide can you start understanding the concept behind “Inception Scrum” and other specific events created for the discussion and preparation phase of items to be produced.   

As you dive deeper into inception scrum, you will find large amounts of teachings that need capturing, Data analysis, and creativity that helps in understanding the why and what behind the need. While a vast list of literature is available to study inception scrum, the teachings' purpose remains the same.  

To create a clear picture of the problem and help your team gain a deeper insight into the what and why of the project so that they can make the initial proposal of how the delivery of the product may look. This aims to inform clients and the wider team about early estimates and approaches toward the task.

Inception scrum helps start a more profound discovery, breakdown, and, most importantly, the design of the product and does not need to create and hand over the complete list of requirements, planning, and design to the team.   

Is Inception Scrum Necessary?

The necessity of inception scrum depends on the complexity of the work and how new it is to the team. Most projects need some initial work that needs to be done to ensure the project gets the right start. Inception scrum can be that work that must be done before the project’s initiation.

The need for inception also depends on several factors, such as how knowledgeable the team is about the desired product, the size of the desired product, and any significant changes to the team or the desired outcome.

If you are still unsure about the need for inception scrum for your project, you can ask yourself the following questions; if the answer to even one of these questions is a “no,” then the project may benefit from an Inception.

  • Does the project, feature, or product already exist?   
  • Did the development team have a prior discussion about the estimated work?  
  • Is the estimated effort needed smaller than a single iteration?   
  • Did the initial desired outcomes change?   
  • Have the team’s circumstances changed from when the project was last estimated and discussed?   

Another factor that is usually taken into consideration during the decision process is technical designs and architecture. However, although these are important, you and your team only need to have them up front if the project’s size and the work’s complexity demand it.

Suppose the work is already defined as a Sprint or smaller. In that case, you acknowledge that it has low complexity and may not need any upfront artifacts, meaning they can be generated with other ceremonies. 

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What is the need for Inception Scrum?  

An inception scrum is especially useful when a new product is introduced or a new feature needs to be added to an existing product. In this case, the challenge is to ensure that you, the stakeholders, and your teams have a common understanding of what has to be built. Most often, team members assume the project’s requirements and may fail to ask the required questions that bring a clearer understanding of the requirement. An inception scrum gives the team members the time to ask tough questions and clear out any misconceptions or misunderstandings about the project.   

Who should attend the inception scrum meetings?  

All teams have multiple working parts that will run a smooth machine when in sync. All the members of the company who will be part of the project are usually needed to attend the inception scrum. These include:

  • A facilitator, often known as the Agile Coach or Scrum Master, is the most important person who needs to be present at the inception meeting.   
  • A subject matter expert who is well versed with the new initiative or product that needs to be created. This is also the product owner or the product manager. They are also the ones who usually call for the meeting.   
  • Members of one or more teams. The number of teams present at the inception scrum will depend on the project’s complexity; if the members of one team have all the required members to complete the project, then it can be just them.
  • However, if the project needs two or more teams to work in tandem, then it may be beneficial for members of both teams to be present at the meeting.   
  • Stakeholders are another vital part of the team as they are the ones who are invested in the products. However, they may not have the technical know-how needed to contribute to the project and hence can either attend it to get an update about the project if they want to or not without having too much of an impact on the outcome of the meeting.   

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An inception scrum is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you and your team are on the same page regarding the desired product. If a product manager is not well versed in Scrum or how to start and end inception, they should attend a Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification course. At StarAgile, we conduct two courses: PSM certification and PSM1 Certification. These are two-day workshops that help professionals hone these skills in agile methodology. Since Scrum is widely used in most IT sectors and is slowly finding its way into other industries, this course benefits anyone looking for a high-scope career or wanting to gain a management position.

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