What Are The Phases Of Scrum?

January 3, 2023
4 minute read

Scrum is an Agile project management framework that enables teams to work together in an efficient, organized way. It is divided into five distinct phases - initiation, planning and estimates,  implementation, review and retrospective, and release phase. Let’s talk about each stage and the processes related to each of them.


1. Initiation Phase

The initiation phase is one of the most critical steps of the Scrum methodology, as it sets the foundation for the rest of the project.

During this phase, the team will create the project's vision, essentially outlining a roadmap with the main objectives, goals, and deliverables. They will also identify all stakeholders, assign team members to each role, and determine epics forming the project backlog. 

The product backlog is a list that contains features (product epics) that will be implemented during development, ordered by priority. A Product Owner creates these based on the project’s vision and the client’s needs, and they’re usually formatted as follows:

As a/the [user role], I want to [product capability] so that [user benefit].

Here are a few examples of product epics:

For a website: As an aspiring entrepreneur, I want to sign up for this coaching program quickly so I can complete my registration without spending more than 5 minutes on a registration form.

For a media launch event: As a blogger, I want to film and document exclusive and exciting experiences with the newly-released product line so that I can publish exclusive content on my blog.

Once all the processes related to this phase are complete, the team will be ready to move on to the next phase.

2. Planning & Estimates Phase

Product epics are rarely accomplished with just one task or feature. To achieve the goals of a product epic, the Scrum team would have to complete several actions. These are called user stories.

User stories are formatted in the same way product epics are formatted. However, they are typically quicker to implement.


Source: Delibr Blog


Continuing from the example above:

Product Epic: As an aspiring entrepreneur, I want to sign up for this coaching program quickly so I can complete my registration without spending more than 5 minutes on a registration form.

User Stories:

  • As an aspiring entrepreneur, I want to see a summary of all the package inclusions before I sign up so I can clearly see what I’m paying for.
  • As an aspiring entrepreneur, I want a registration form with fewer than five items to fill up so I can finish registration in less than 5 minutes.
  • As an aspiring entrepreneur, I want a registration form with an auto-fill feature so I won’t have to write all my info manually.

User stories break the product epic into lightweight tasks to make them more manageable. Product Owners typically identify user stories, but the development team can also do it in coordination with the Product Owner. 

User stories constitute the product backlog, a list of necessary capabilities the product or service needs.

One of the critical principles of Scrum is its iterative development framework. Work is organized into scrum sprints, 2-4 week periods that end with shippable increments of a product.

During the planning and estimates phase, the Scrum development team does sprint planning. Here, the team identifies which user stories they’d like to work on during the sprint, called a sprint backlog. A sprint board can be used to plan this, either created physically or through software like Workamajig.

Workamajig is the only project management tool built specifically for agencies and creative teams. It includes project management, CRM, task management, resource management, and accounting features. This allows you to organize your project in one platform across all Scrum steps.

Once this phase is complete, the team can move on to the next phase of the Scrum methodology steps - the Execution phase. This is where the team will start to work on the tasks and complete them within the sprint.


3. Implementation Phase

The implementation phase is about the execution of tasks and activities to accomplish product goals and complete project deliverables.

Scrum processes that are key to this phase are daily stand-up meetings and burndown chart monitoring.

Daily stand-up meetings are regular (but quick) touch bases that the team does to check on task status, align on sprint progress, and check for possible issues. During these meetings, each team member gets the chance to share the following:

  • What tasks he/she did yesterday
  • What tasks he/she plans to work on next today
  • What issues he/she faced (if any)

Burndown charts are graphs that illustrate how much the team has done compared to how much they should accomplish.

Source: Forbes

Burndown chart components:

  • X-axis - Time remaining until the project deadline
  • Y-axis - Amount of tasks
  • Ideal work remaining - Illustrates the perfect pace of the team
  • Actual time remaining - Tracks the team’s actual progress in real-time

This phase of Scrum can be demanding, but it's also gratifying. With the right team and the right processes in place, you can ensure that communication is constant among the development team and the product is progressing as planned.


4. Review & Retrospective Phase

The review & retrospective phase is an essential part of the agile scrum process and should be done after every sprint ends. It's an opportunity to evaluate what was successful, what could be improved, and how to move forward by gathering customer feedback and team insights. 

This phase constitutes the following Scrum processes:

  • Sprint review
  • Sprint retrospective
  • Product backlog grooming
  • Project retrospective (when the project ends)

The sprint review allows stakeholders and team members to assess the project's progress. In contrast, the sprint retrospective provides a chance to reflect on their experience, share their thoughts, and decide how to optimize the process. The sprint review focuses on the product and is usually headed by the Product Owner. Meanwhile, the sprint retrospective focuses on the process facilitated by the Scrum Master.

Retrospective Questions:

  • What did we do well?
  • What did we not do well?
  • How can we improve?

In the sprint review, the progress during the previous sprint is evaluated against the product backlog. Based on its results, the Product Owner decides which user stories have been completed and if new ones need to be added. Updating the product backlog is called product backlog grooming. This helps ensure that the product backlog is suitable for planning the next sprint.


Source: Hygger Blog


The process typically goes back to the planning and estimates phase –once a sprint is finished and evaluated, a new sprint planning begins, and the cycle goes. However, once the final deliverable is submitted, a product retrospective can be done to assess how the team can improve in future projects.


5. Release Phase

The Release phase is the final phase of the Scrum methodology steps and is all about getting the final project deliverables ready and turning them over to the relevant stakeholders. Here, the team needs to ensure that all their hard work is rewarded with a successful completion. 

As mentioned earlier, a project retrospective can also be done to ensure improvements in the team’s following projects.


Wrapping Up

Scrum is a widely-used project management methodology because it promotes self-managing teams and iterative development. To maximize its benefits, it’s essential to understand how each Scrum phase contributes to ensuring that projects and services are constantly improving and that user feedback and benefits are always accounted for.

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