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Does Scrum Apply To All Types Of Projects?

Scrum, undoubtedly, is one of the potentially viable approaches to managing software development projects. Scrum is just a development methodology which delineates the processes and practices that help in managing software development activities.However, before adopting any methodology one should ask these questions -Is the use of Scrum being forced upon you to fit into the project?Has the research been done to predict its success rate?Have you analyzed the risks associated with this adoption?What types of projects fall into the purview of Scrum framework?I worked in the IT industry for 9+ years on a wide variety of projects where the success rate of Scrum was very high. Hence, I got the impression that it works for all types of projects. Here is my experience with one of the projects that threw away all my misconceptions about Scrum and changed my opinion.My team worked on a huge, multi-dimensional project, that included distributed teams.Multiple versions of the product were already out in the market and customer satisfaction was running high. Then we decided to switch to Scrum for this particular project. As the software product was already out in the market, customer issues and complaints piled up that were assigned a priority level in order to be resolved.The team working on the newer version was also required to support the older versions as a part of the contract with the customer.  Therefore, the same team is working on new versions of the product including enhancements and new features while also addressing the customer issues and bug fixes for the older version of the software.Now, since the product owner had already groomed the backlog for the software release, whenever any new issue from the earlier versions was raised by the customer, we took them on priority. This leads to these issues being constantly added in the midst of the sprint to the backlog and the whole team started working on the issue, leaving their current work behind.As a result of these mid-Sprint changes-All of a sudden, team had to shift their focus.No planning was done for this issue while grooming.Unplanned work being added to the backlogDelay in creating and delivering current project deliverables.Then comes the conundrum -Are we really using Scrum the right way? Is our project really getting any benefit by using Scrum?The answer is probably NOT. But the management still wouldn’t agree and will continue to force the use of Scrum for this project.Now, let us discuss the below scenarios.1) Sometimes there were too many issues from the earlier versions but the other times too few issues (but of high priority) were thereIn these cases, we need to immediately switch our focus to a high-priority issue and provide a possible solution to the customer as early as possible. The current sprint needs to be cancelled and pending tasks need to be transferred to the next sprint.2) Sometimes no issues at all.Continue the sprint.3) Sometimes issues need to be addressed but the current project is also in a critical stage.An example is the build failure of the current project and where testers weren’t able to continue the testing. This becomes a critical condition for any project which needs to be addressed and planned for.Because of this critical situation, management switched its stance and agreed to abandon Scrum for this project as it stalled both the projects and instead used the waterfall model.Few suggestions to avoid this scenario -Make two separate teams - one for handling the issues of earlier versions and one for the current project sprintsSlowly and steadily we should stop giving the support to the earlier versions (End of life) and this should be clearly communicated to the customer in advance so that they can also prepare themselves. It should be coded in the contract at the time of signing. However, this is not always possible due to complex nature of projects that run big manufacturing and production plants which may adversely affect their productivity/throughput.The above two solutions can be addressed in the following ways:Plan and allocate budget to provide support to the earlier versions of the product instead of hiring the new team. In case of no issues, the team can continue to work on the current project.For such projects, Scrum and Kanban both methodologies should be used.Conclusion:In my opinion, before adopting any methodology we should always deep dive into it and understand its success rate in different scenarios of the project. We should not impose any methodology on any project by giving justification that it is already used by other projects.Also, start off with small (maybe internal) projects having few sprints and few team members just to predict the success rate of the methodologies and frameworks.“It’s better to fail first than at the end”.So, for the projects where there is high unpredictability (don’t know when new tasks will come), chances are there that Scrum may not work; so it is better to use Kanban in those situations.Inappropriate application of Scrum can lead to its doom – Scrum is not a prescriptive method, but a suggestive approach to software development. So, the way it is implemented makes all the difference.
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Does Scrum Apply To All Types Of Projects?

798
  • by Shilpi Jain
  • 10th Aug, 2018
  • Last updated on 06th Mar, 2019
  • 3 mins read
Does Scrum Apply To All Types Of Projects?

Scrum, undoubtedly, is one of the potentially viable approaches to managing software development projects. Scrum is just a development methodology which delineates the processes and practices that help in managing software development activities.

However, before adopting any methodology one should ask these questions -

  • Is the use of Scrum being forced upon you to fit into the project?
  • Has the research been done to predict its success rate?
  • Have you analyzed the risks associated with this adoption?
  • What types of projects fall into the purview of Scrum framework?

I worked in the IT industry for 9+ years on a wide variety of projects where the success rate of Scrum was very high. Hence, I got the impression that it works for all types of projects. Here is my experience with one of the projects that threw away all my misconceptions about Scrum and changed my opinion.

My team worked on a huge, multi-dimensional project, that included distributed teams.

Multiple versions of the product were already out in the market and customer satisfaction was running high. Then we decided to switch to Scrum for this particular project. As the software product was already out in the market, customer issues and complaints piled up that were assigned a priority level in order to be resolved.

The team working on the newer version was also required to support the older versions as a part of the contract with the customer.  Therefore, the same team is working on new versions of the product including enhancements and new features while also addressing the customer issues and bug fixes for the older version of the software.

Now, since the product owner had already groomed the backlog for the software release, whenever any new issue from the earlier versions was raised by the customer, we took them on priority. This leads to these issues being constantly added in the midst of the sprint to the backlog and the whole team started working on the issue, leaving their current work behind.

As a result of these mid-Sprint changes-

  1. All of a sudden, team had to shift their focus.
  2. No planning was done for this issue while grooming.
  3. Unplanned work being added to the backlog
  4. Delay in creating and delivering current project deliverables.

Then comes the conundrum -
Are we really using Scrum the right way? Is our project really getting any benefit by using Scrum?

The answer is probably NOT. But the management still wouldn’t agree and will continue to force the use of Scrum for this project.

Now, let us discuss the below scenarios.

1) Sometimes there were too many issues from the earlier versions but the other times too few issues (but of high priority) were there
In these cases, we need to immediately switch our focus to a high-priority issue and provide a possible solution to the customer as early as possible. The current sprint needs to be cancelled and pending tasks need to be transferred to the next sprint.

2) Sometimes no issues at all.
Continue the sprint.

3) Sometimes issues need to be addressed but the current project is also in a critical stage.
An example is the build failure of the current project and where testers weren’t able to continue the testing. This becomes a critical condition for any project which needs to be addressed and planned for.

Because of this critical situation, management switched its stance and agreed to abandon Scrum for this project as it stalled both the projects and instead used the waterfall model.

Few suggestions to avoid this scenario -

  1. Make two separate teams - one for handling the issues of earlier versions and one for the current project sprints
  2. Slowly and steadily we should stop giving the support to the earlier versions (End of life) and this should be clearly communicated to the customer in advance so that they can also prepare themselves. It should be coded in the contract at the time of signing. However, this is not always possible due to complex nature of projects that run big manufacturing and production plants which may adversely affect their productivity/throughput.

The above two solutions can be addressed in the following ways:

  1. Plan and allocate budget to provide support to the earlier versions of the product instead of hiring the new team. In case of no issues, the team can continue to work on the current project.
  2. For such projects, Scrum and Kanban both methodologies should be used.

Conclusion:

In my opinion, before adopting any methodology we should always deep dive into it and understand its success rate in different scenarios of the project. We should not impose any methodology on any project by giving justification that it is already used by other projects.

Also, start off with small (maybe internal) projects having few sprints and few team members just to predict the success rate of the methodologies and frameworks.

“It’s better to fail first than at the end”.

So, for the projects where there is high unpredictability (don’t know when new tasks will come), chances are there that Scrum may not work; so it is better to use Kanban in those situations.

Inappropriate application of Scrum can lead to its doom – Scrum is not a prescriptive method, but a suggestive approach to software development. So, the way it is implemented makes all the difference.

Shilpi

Shilpi Jain

Blog Author

Shilpi is an experienced Scrum Master have 9+ years of experience in IT industry. She worked in companies like GE Healthcare and Nokia Siemens and currently working as a freelancer where she has contributed in many Technical Articles on Scrum/Agile, Project Management Tools (Atlassian, Jira and Rally), Project Management, Scrum Agile Certifications Questions and Answers (Test Paper Writing). She carries certifications like Certified Scrum Master, Fundamentals of Scum, Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB). She always shares her personal experiences in her Articles. She is a passionate writer and blogger about the Scrum and Agile Methodology.

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5 comments

nicocasel 16 Aug 2018

Thanks for this article. We find only few testimonies / feedback about situations where Scrum is not the right approach. "for the projects where there is high unpredictability (don’t know when new tasks will come), chances are there that Scrum may not work; so it is better to use Kanban in those situations." It sounds obvious for experimented people in Agile, however this is important to remind it.

Shubham 15 Sep 2018

Not having much knowledge regarding scrum or Kanban...but definitely seems to be a good read. Can scrum be used for managing projects other IT one, like finance or general management...if so then maybe same can be a part of your posts to come. Knowledge can only bring change to this world, so keep writing keep sharing

SUNIL jain 16 Sep 2018

Excellent, good information

Vishal Singhal 16 Sep 2018

Nice article. Describing real pain points while following agile methodology. Keep up the good work.

kurunapi karthik 21 Nov 2018

Thanks Shilpi Jain .. thank you for the information

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This trend has prompted more industries to invest in Agile and Scrum training.  Let’s see some more benefits of having a certified Scrum Master on a project.Why should you be interested in getting a Scrum Master Certification?Scrum has become the finest choice of organizations to deliver more value to the customers. In State of Scrum 2018 survey, 85 percent of the respondents say Scrum continues to improve the quality of work life. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agreed that it has significantly helped improve their practice.Listed below are the reasons and benefits of having a Scrum Master certification (CSM).1. In-depth knowledge of Scrum:If you have not implemented Scrum before, earning the certification will help you to learn the Scrum skills effectively. With this certification, you can level-up your knowledge with the basics of Scrum and you will be able to:Make customers happy and satisfiedDeliver better quality product in less timeMaintain team collaborationLesser defectsFlexible working strategyTake a quick decision on an issue2. A number of companies moving to Agile:Nowadays, organizations are required to speed up their product development process to deliver fast according to the changing needs of the customers. This helps organizations to stay viable. Scrum produces in iterations and its self-organizing teams deliver products of maximum value. Due to this reason, a number of companies are shifting to Agile.      3. New career opportunities on the go:A CSM certification will bring more new career opportunities as more companies are migrating to the Agile approach and they need a professional who will guide a team to follow the Scrum approach. Being a certified Scrum Master, your chances of getting hired by the top employers with fair salary are more.    4. Increases collaboration:When it comes to working on a complex project, it needs collaboration among the team members. As a certified professional on a team, you can build and reinforce the basic understanding of Scrum to produce a value.  5. Switch to the Agile mindset:You need to develop an Agile mindset if you have to work with Agile methodologies. As a certified person on a team, you need to start thinking in an Agile way that will avoid differences in opinions and lead to successful projects with better team collaboration.    7. Organizations yield more:It is tough for any organization to accept new processes easily as it affects the complete structure of the organization. It affects processes, management, people, and clients. In this regard, you need a knowledgeable person in your team who will make the adoption a smooth process. Being a certified Scrum Master, you will be facilitating the tasks for the team members.  8. Enter the Scrum experts community:After taking a Certified ScrumMaster certification, an individual will get a chance to be a part of the Scrum experts community of Scrum Alliance. This community offers knowledge in a way to stay updated, find the events, and provide instructions to the certified members.Scrum Master vs. Project ManagerOnce we enter the industries, we often come across the term Project Manager along with the Scrum Master. These two roles are distinct from each other though they contribute to the projects. This creates confusion between the Scrum Master and Project Manager roles when an organization is undergoing an Agile transformation.A Scrum Master works on the Agile project associated with Scrum project management principles whereas a Project Manager’s work is based on the traditional disciplined project management principles. Let’s see the differences between a Scrum Master and Project Manager. Also, if you are serving as a Project Manager and willing to become a Scrum Master or vice versa, this information will help you to take a stand on this. Before going further, let's see the roles of the Scrum Master and Project Manager in brief.1. Scrum Master duties:Scrum Master responsibilities to the Product Owner (PO)-Helps the PO in managing the product backlogHelps the PO to convey the product requirement clearly to the team members  Facilitate Scrum events to the POScrum Master responsibilities towards the development team-Guiding and coaching the teams to follow Scrum rulesRemoves roadblocks that are inhibiting the project’s progressHelps to maintain team dynamics and high-value resultFacilitate the Scrum events and arrange Scrum meetingsDirecting the team in Scrum implementationMentor the team members who are new to Scrum adoption2. Project Manager roles:The Project Manager is responsible for:Delivering the product according to the project’s requirementsDefining the project scope and planning the project activities accordinglyEnsuring that the responsibilities assigned to team members are according to their skills and expertiseReporting the progress of the project to the stakeholdersTracking the project performance against the timelines and ensuring an effective project qualityMaking sure that the project documentation is properPlanning the tasks for the team members and ensuring that the team understands their roles in the projectPreparing a project budget and getting it approved from the senior managementManaging the StakeholdersMonitoring and controlling the risks in the projectDelivering the project on time with the project constraints like scope, the budget, time, and efficient resourcesLet’s figure out the major differences between a Scrum Master and Project ManagerScrum MasterAttributesProject ManagerMakes sure that the team members are well trained to follow Agile practices appropriately. Also, SM coaches the Scrum teams and mentions the timeline to finish the projectGoalsHas defined goals like-Completing the project on time, planned a budget, and scopeSM assures the quality and knows the importance of quality.Quality AssurancePM also knows the importance of quality, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. A consultant is usually hired to fix the errorsScrum Master always tries to keep things smaller. They like to work in small teams irrespective of budget.Team SizeProject Managers like to make things large. PM works with more people and a huge budget. In this way, they improve to Program ManagerThe average salary of a Certified ScrumMaster® is $116,659 per year.Average SalaryThe average salary of a Project Manager is $75,474 per yearCertified Scrum Master (CSM)®Advanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)®Certified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)®Professional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)Agile Scrum Master (ASM)Scrum Master Certified (SMC)SAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)CertificationsAgile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®Project Management Professional (PMP)®Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®Certified Project Manager (IAPM)CompTIA Project+Certified Scrum Master (CSM)- Scrum AllianceAdvanced-Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM)- Scrum AllianceCertified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master (CSP-SM)- Scrum AllianceProfessional Scrum Master (PSM I, PSM II, PSM III)- Scrum.orgAgile Scrum Master (ASM)- EXINScrum Master Certified (SMC)- SCRUMstudySAFe® Scrum Master (SSM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)- Scaled Agile Inc (SAI)Accreditation bodiesAgile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®- PMIProject Management Professional (PMP)®- PMICertified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®- PMICertified Project Manager (IAPM)- International Association of Project ManagersCompTIA Project+- CompTIAEfficient Scrum Master = Great OrganizationThe role of a Scrum Master may vary from one project to another or one organization to another but the importance of Scrum Master in a team will always be the same. The role of the Scrum Master in general is very challenging. It goes without saying that hiring a Scrum Master is the wisest decision for an organization undergoing a real transition to Agile!  
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Everything You Need to Know About Scrum Master

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