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A Practical Perspective On Addressing The Pitfalls During Scrum Adoption

Scrum is a roadmap that guides you to perform in project management with remarkable excellence as expected by all the stakeholders. Scrum master holds the responsibility to ensure that Scrum theory, rules and practices are enacted with perfect understanding. The high expectations of the Product Owner, Scrum team members, and organization make the Scrum adoption more challenging even for the experienced project managers but great results never come on their own; you need to do something different. Here, I share 5 major pitfalls identified for putting barriers to smooth performance of projects and Scrum Masters are:  <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HfLolyzZeWU" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>   1.Pitfall: Resistance to Recommended Changes: The resistance to change organizational culture and philosophy is the very first pitfall you come across on your Scrum journey. Sometimes, the extra efforts to fit Agile elements into the non-Agile framework make the task more complex. Accepting change is difficult and uncomfortable for the most; you see many stakeholders keeping distance from it. In other words, the majority of Scrum team members or the people concerned with the project in one way or the other poses rigidness when their comfortable routines are disrupted. Also, some experienced team members have a mindset “this is the way we have always done it and succeeded”.  Solution: The Practical Perspective:  So, change is the fundamental requirement for Scrum adoption; because you wouldn’t be planning for Scrum adoption if the changes were not required to improve. And, all the concerned members must be willing to accept the changes to improve the collective performance. As an efficient Scrum master, you must be able to perform as the change agent being proactive in resolving the resistances to change. The following 6 steps will help you overcome the resistance to Scrum rollout:  Explain the importance & need for the suggested changes  Actively listen to the members and incorporate their feedback into the process changes Highlight the benefits for winners and losers both while defining roles Use the key influencers to make the messages clear and accepted Measure the outcome & share the success to inspire the team members Identify and isolate the stubborn detractors    2.Pitfall: Lack Of Scrum Training Having trained and efficient project team is essential for successful Scrum adoption because Scrum is not a pre-scripted methodology; instead, it is a suggestive approach that delineates the processes and practices to keep the team members on the right track. The lack of training results in lack of commitment to Scrum adoption. The team members not comfortable in Scrum rules implementation tend to shift to old practices; they love to work in their own areas without much concern with others; such knowledge silos put diverse hurdles to your Scrum transition journey.  <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ny1C_w4mLN8" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>  Solution: The Practical Perspective:  Scrum training should be a part of Scrum adoption strategy; especially, if it is being introduced in the organization first time. Giving the team members deep insights into Scrum methodology is a must for smooth scrum transition. Schwaber, in his book Enterprise and Scrum (2007), states that limited size maximizes the speed, content accuracy and communications; and the ideal team size is nine people. As a Scrum Master, you are responsible to help the team members hit the goals fixed in sprint meetings. To plan for the role specific Scrum training, you need to fix the following three parameters:  Numbers of people for Scrum training  The specific roles Requirement of certification On-site video training or classroom training      3.Pitfall: Distributed Team Scrum allows the team members to work from different locales but the distributed Scrum teams face certain major issues that retard the project’s progress:  Conflicting working hours and different time zones impair effectiveness and collaboration. Delay caused by lack of zero gap communication  Cultural differences & language barriers create confusions and misunderstanding  Team members have divergent preferences for technologies.  Solution: The Practical Perspective: As a Scrum Master, you need to assemble the distributed team for building trust and respect for each other. Try the following three experienced based hacks to solve the problem:  Make the communication fast, transparent and understandable to all despite the difference in working hours Give the team members ownership of their work to improve their commitment & motivation levels  Organize the camps to crush the boundaries of cultural and language differences    Present the clear picture of tooling, standards, and architecture design to keep everyone on the same track  <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Z0ZsDGAGzU" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> 4.Pitfall: Changes In Team To Manage Resourcing Problems Some organizations on the first time journey to Scrum adoption make massive changes in the team to manage the resourcing problems because of not knowing the hidden pitfalls. Although Scrum team members are trained to face the changes, still, frequent changes break the rhythm by disrupting the team’s velocity. Every member needs stability to perform; when the frequent role changes are applied, even the performing members quit. The replacement of old member with new member poses new problems for the other team members during the settling period. Assuming changes as the best feasible solution for improvement is a big pitfall in the journey of Scrum adoption.   Solution: The Practical Perspective: As a Scrum team leader, it is your responsibility to help and train every team member to speak the same language. How?  To retain the members, make sure every team member has Scrum training The required changes in Scrum team should be discussed with senior members but you need to have valid reasons  Keeping right person at right position is the responsibility of Scrum Master; it makes the individual’s performance evaluation more important   The task of making changes doesn’t end just by adding new member; you also need to track the cooperation between the new member and old members     <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KApy2bpDMaQ" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> 5.Pitfall: On The Demand Tasks and Outcomes of Old Practices  Handling the unexpected urgent requests thrown by the client or the technical support team is one of the biggest challenges for the Scrum Masters. The other unexpected problem often faced by the Scrum Masters is the outcome of old practices even before they came into the picture. Some of such issues can be put into the backlog but many of these are needed to be handled at top priority. It harms the efforts to protect the team members from any interruption to let them drive in the secluded environment.  Solution: The practical perspective: Iterative product development is the part of Scrum approach. Respect the new demands and urgencies as the opportunities to test your capability. Whatsoever kind of problems you may face in managing on the demand tasks and bugs of old practices, you are expected to do it and you must do it the deliver the quality product ensuring 100% satisfaction to the client. Try the following 3 tricks to ease down the pressure:  Take the Bugs and urgent requests as the stuff for the superhero; and, you are indeed.  As Robin was important for Batman; you too need Robin to be called in for action.  Allocate sufficient time and resources separately to manage Bug Backlog and Product Backlog.   Conclusion:  On the way of Scrum adoption, you need to make several changes at diverse stages. Deep insights into Scrum principles, learning from problems, zero gap communication, effective team building and optimized use of tools/technology etc are the core strengths of successful Scrum Master to lead the team. The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) courses, separately designed for class room and team/corporate training modules give you knowledge, practical experience and confidence to get the best from Scrum adoption by incorporating the changes as the acceptable working culture transformation.   
A Practical Perspective On Addressing The Pitfalls During Scrum Adoption
Shubhranshu Agarwal
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A Practical Perspective On Addressing The Pitfalls During Scrum Adoption

Shubhranshu Agarwal
Agile Management
11th Jan, 2018
A Practical Perspective On Addressing The Pitfalls During Scrum Adoption

Scrum is a roadmap that guides you to perform in project management with remarkable excellence as expected by all the stakeholders. Scrum master holds the responsibility to ensure that Scrum theory, rules and practices are enacted with perfect understanding. The high expectations of the Product Owner, Scrum team members, and organization make the Scrum adoption more challenging even for the experienced project managers but great results never come on their own; you need to do something different. Here, I share 5 major pitfalls identified for putting barriers to smooth performance of projects and Scrum Masters are: 

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HfLolyzZeWU" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>


 

1.Pitfall: Resistance to Recommended Changes:

The resistance to change organizational culture and philosophy is the very first pitfall you come across on your Scrum journey. Sometimes, the extra efforts to fit Agile elements into the non-Agile framework make the task more complex. Accepting change is difficult and uncomfortable for the most; you see many stakeholders keeping distance from it. In other words, the majority of Scrum team members or the people concerned with the project in one way or the other poses rigidness when their comfortable routines are disrupted. Also, some experienced team members have a mindset “this is the way we have always done it and succeeded”. 

Solution: The Practical Perspective: 

So, change is the fundamental requirement for Scrum adoption; because you wouldn’t be planning for Scrum adoption if the changes were not required to improve. And, all the concerned members must be willing to accept the changes to improve the collective performance. As an efficient Scrum master, you must be able to perform as the change agent being proactive in resolving the resistances to change. The following 6 steps will help you overcome the resistance to Scrum rollout: 

  • Explain the importance & need for the suggested changes 
  • Actively listen to the members and incorporate their feedback into the process changes
  • Highlight the benefits for winners and losers both while defining roles
  • Use the key influencers to make the messages clear and accepted
  • Measure the outcome & share the success to inspire the team members
  • Identify and isolate the stubborn detractors 
     

2.Pitfall: Lack Of Scrum Training

Having trained and efficient project team is essential for successful Scrum adoption because Scrum is not a pre-scripted methodology; instead, it is a suggestive approach that delineates the processes and practices to keep the team members on the right track. The lack of training results in lack of commitment to Scrum adoption. The team members not comfortable in Scrum rules implementation tend to shift to old practices; they love to work in their own areas without much concern with others; such knowledge silos put diverse hurdles to your Scrum transition journey. 


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ny1C_w4mLN8" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 Solution: The Practical Perspective: 

Scrum training should be a part of Scrum adoption strategy; especially, if it is being introduced in the organization first time. Giving the team members deep insights into Scrum methodology is a must for smooth scrum transition. Schwaber, in his book Enterprise and Scrum (2007), states that limited size maximizes the speed, content accuracy and communications; and the ideal team size is nine people. As a Scrum Master, you are responsible to help the team members hit the goals fixed in sprint meetings. To plan for the role specific Scrum training, you need to fix the following three parameters: 

  • Numbers of people for Scrum training 
  • The specific roles
  • Requirement of certification
  • On-site video training or classroom training   
     

3.Pitfall: Distributed Team

Scrum allows the team members to work from different locales but the distributed Scrum teams face certain major issues that retard the project’s progress: 

  • Conflicting working hours and different time zones impair effectiveness and collaboration.
  • Delay caused by lack of zero gap communication 
  • Cultural differences & language barriers create confusions and misunderstanding 
  • Team members have divergent preferences for technologies. 

Solution: The Practical Perspective:

As a Scrum Master, you need to assemble the distributed team for building trust and respect for each other. Try the following three experienced based hacks to solve the problem: 

  • Make the communication fast, transparent and understandable to all despite the difference in working hours
  • Give the team members ownership of their work to improve their commitment & motivation levels 
  • Organize the camps to crush the boundaries of cultural and language differences   
  • Present the clear picture of tooling, standards, and architecture design to keep everyone on the same track 

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Z0ZsDGAGzU" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

4.Pitfall: Changes In Team To Manage Resourcing Problems

Some organizations on the first time journey to Scrum adoption make massive changes in the team to manage the resourcing problems because of not knowing the hidden pitfalls. Although Scrum team members are trained to face the changes, still, frequent changes break the rhythm by disrupting the team’s velocity. Every member needs stability to perform; when the frequent role changes are applied, even the performing members quit. The replacement of old member with new member poses new problems for the other team members during the settling period. Assuming changes as the best feasible solution for improvement is a big pitfall in the journey of Scrum adoption.  

Solution: The Practical Perspective:

As a Scrum team leader, it is your responsibility to help and train every team member to speak the same language. How? 

  • To retain the members, make sure every team member has Scrum training
  • The required changes in Scrum team should be discussed with senior members but you need to have valid reasons 
  • Keeping right person at right position is the responsibility of Scrum Master; it makes the individual’s performance evaluation more important  
  • The task of making changes doesn’t end just by adding new member; you also need to track the cooperation between the new member and old members  
     

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KApy2bpDMaQ" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

5.Pitfall: On The Demand Tasks and Outcomes of Old Practices 

Handling the unexpected urgent requests thrown by the client or the technical support team is one of the biggest challenges for the Scrum Masters. The other unexpected problem often faced by the Scrum Masters is the outcome of old practices even before they came into the picture. Some of such issues can be put into the backlog but many of these are needed to be handled at top priority. It harms the efforts to protect the team members from any interruption to let them drive in the secluded environment. 

Solution: The practical perspective:

Iterative product development is the part of Scrum approach. Respect the new demands and urgencies as the opportunities to test your capability. Whatsoever kind of problems you may face in managing on the demand tasks and bugs of old practices, you are expected to do it and you must do it the deliver the quality product ensuring 100% satisfaction to the client. Try the following 3 tricks to ease down the pressure: 

  • Take the Bugs and urgent requests as the stuff for the superhero; and, you are indeed. 
  • As Robin was important for Batman; you too need Robin to be called in for action. 
  • Allocate sufficient time and resources separately to manage Bug Backlog and Product Backlog.
     

Conclusion: 

On the way of Scrum adoption, you need to make several changes at diverse stages. Deep insights into Scrum principles, learning from problems, zero gap communication, effective team building and optimized use of tools/technology etc are the core strengths of successful Scrum Master to lead the team. The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) courses, separately designed for class room and team/corporate training modules give you knowledge, practical experience and confidence to get the best from Scrum adoption by incorporating the changes as the acceptable working culture transformation. 

 

Shubhranshu
Blog Author

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies. 

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