The Three Scrum Artifacts and Their Commitments

by Scrum Alliance
Overview / Framework / Team / Events / Artifacts

Scrum defines three artifacts: product backlog, sprint backlog, and a potentially releasable product increment.

Please note, the following information comes from the thought leadership of our Certified Scrum Trainers and Certified Agile Coaches, as well as other reputable sources, including the Agile Manifesto and the November 2017 version of the Scrum Guide.

Learn about the Three Scrum Artifacts

Scrum uses three artifacts to help manage work. All three are defined and described below.

Product Backlog

The product backlog is an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in a product. It is constantly evolving and is never complete.

Sprint Backlog

The sprint backlog is a list of everything that the team commits to achieve in a given sprint. Once created, no one can add to the sprint backlog except the development team. 

If the development team needs to drop an item from the sprint backlog, they must negotiate it with the Product Owner. During this negotiation, the Scrum Master should work with the development team and Product Owner to try to find ways to create some smaller increment of an item rather than drop it altogether.

Potentially Releasable Product Increment

At the end of every sprint, the team must complete a product increment that is potentially releasable, meaning that meets their agreed-upon definition of done. (An example might be fully tested and fully approved.)

Tracking Progress with Sprint Burndown Charts

A sprint burndown (or burnup) chart is not an official Scrum artifact but many teams use it to communicate and track progress toward the sprint goal during the sprint. 

Related: The Trouble with Sprint Burndowns

What Is the Purpose of the Sprint Burndown Chart?

Sprint burndown charts help teams gauge whether they will complete the work of a sprint. Burndown charts also reinforce the Scrum values of commitment, focus, and openness and one of the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency. 

What Is a Sprint Burndown Chart?

Sprint burndowns are a graphical way of showing how much work is remaining in the sprint, typically in terms of task hours. It is typically updated at the daily scrum. As the sprint progresses, the amount of work remaining should steadily decrease and should trend toward being complete on the last day of the sprint. Burndowns that show increasing work or few completed tasks are signals to the Scrum Master and the team that the sprint is not going well.


Overview / Framework / Team / Events / Artifacts

Transitioning to an agile framework such as Scrum requires a new mindset and overall cultural adjustments. And like all change, it doesn't come easy. But when teams and organizations fully commit to Scrum, they'll discover a new sense of flexibility, creativity, and inspiration - all of which will lead to greater results. 

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