Today, product companies are shifting their focus from the traditional approach to new-age digital technologies to remain competitive and reach out to market faster. The companies are leveraging Agile methodology for a well-organized project management practice as it encourages frequent feedback, iterative development, teamwork, rapid and frequent delivery with a high-quality build and more.

When it comes to Agile, Scrum is the most widely used Agile framework which handles complex software and product development by utilizing iterative practices. Scrum processes allow organizations to effortlessly accept ever-evolving requirements and develop a product that meets the business goals. Scrum’s simplicity in concept is probably the reason why it gets abused.

Following are some examples and scenarios leading to scrum mistakes with general recommendations to turn them around.

  1. Faux Scrum approach: Usually, it’s seen as companies that claim they are working on scrum go through scrum events without actually embracing the principles of agile and eventually end up creating waterfall deliverables and products under the false scrum titles. This is called cargo cult agile and it’s a sure path to avoiding the benefits of scrum. Using scrum along with waterfall processes, meetings, and documents is also a faux scrum approach. In addition, double work agile results in quick project team burnout. If you’re doing twice the work, you aren’t doing Scrum, neither are you adhering to agile principles.

    Solution: Scrum needs to be followed thoroughly along with ensuring that non-agile principles and practices are avoided completely. The Agile principles are what make the practices work well along with sustainable in the long run.

  2. Agile transformation takes time: Agile transformation is complex and every so often starts out messy. Any sort of transformation exposes prevailing organization problems—from lack of communication to accountability, training, budgeting etc. To have an effective Agile transformation—a complete culture change in organizational level along with acceptance by the leadership team is required.

    Solution: Be prepared to run the entire gamut of pain and resistance to cultural changes in your organization to encourage an overall commitment to scrum.

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  3. Product Owner who guides more than drives: Driving a scrum team requires a product owner who has the right temperament and expertise to work well with the team on a daily basis. A dominant controlling mindset is counter to the Agile framework. Great agile teams are generally self-organizing having a Scrum Master who acts as a servant leader. Such teams learn to become better at working together and delivering greater value more efficiently by regular inspection and adaption.

    Solution: A scrum project needs an owner who has the time, expertise, and temperament to be a good product owner. Training the product owner is fundamental to a project success. The scrum master can coach the product owner and take care of the roadblocks and obstacle that prevents the product owner from being effective.

  4. Lack of training: Training the Scrum team provides a quicker, better learning environment that helps them avoid many mistakes. Not investing in training the team indicates an overall lack of organizational commitment to scrum.

    Solution: Make training mandatory in your implementation strategy. Give the scrum team a right foundation at the start of your scrum transition.

  5. An unready product backlog: One of the most common reasons for sprint failure and the unmotivated team is product backlog that isn’t “ready”. Usually, the new product owners need instruction, coaching, and hand-holding for the first few sprints as they learn to develop and maintain a product backlog that has enough valuable features estimated at a high level, and prioritized by business value. Product owner has to ensure that the product backlog is ready for the next sprint. Your team should never run out of work to do, and that work must be prioritized by the product owner.

    Solution: Product owner has a complex and multifaceted role. It’s important to set the right expectations, provide all the training, and help the product owner to keep the flow of value coming.

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  6. Lack of automated testing: Automated testing is essential in every sprint, without which it may be impossible to fully complete and test work within a sprint. Most manual testing is a waste of time that fast-moving scrum teams don’t have.

    Solution: Find low-cost, open-source testing tools on the market and make a commitment as a development team to use those tools.

  7. Sloppy daily stand-up meetings: The daily stand-up meeting is critical for scrum projects from several aspects. Being in the same building isn’t enough, scrum team needs to sit together in the same area and meet up for 15 minutes that forces communication and collaboration, and provides visibility and transparency into the project. Ask the three questions (what did I accomplish for the project yesterday, what will I work on today, what obstacles are blocking me from completing my work on time).

    Solution: Take action to bring the team together and set the right expectations up front so the team takes it seriously. Start the meeting on time and finish on time. Keep the team away from distractors, side conversations, or discussions during the stand-up. Stick to the objectives and be succinct.

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  8. Not raising impediments: The daily meetings provide a medium to discuss and communicate the shortcomings to getting the work done. The chief responsibility of the Scrum Master is to remove obstacles so that the team can focus on delivering software; but if obstacles are not raised, the Scrum Master can’t remove them. The team members should be communicating obstacles in a timely manner so that action can be taken to eliminate them before it’s too late.

    Solution: Remind the team at the beginning of every stand-up meeting to bring up issues and obstacles, or if there’s any chance something might delay their work or cause them to not live up to their sprint commitment.

About the Author

gaurav_handa

Gaurav Handa VP – Service Delivery linked-in icon

Gaurav Handa, Vice President – Service Delivery, is a path-breaking professional and business savvy enterprise architect with extensive industry experience of over 18 years. Gaurav authenticates delivery of superior business outcomes for customers while formulating and delivering state-of-the-art technology and business solutions across various domains. He has always been instrumental in driving all organization-wide initiatives and bringing business efficiencies through his expertise in project management methodologies of Agile, Scrum, Waterfall and delivery technicalities of Onsite, Offsite and Offshore model coupled with excellent hands-on experience in developing and executing complex and large projects.