Understanding the Common Pitfalls in Scrum – Part 1

March 20, 2018

Scrum is a highly viable software development methodology, and the teams implementing Scrum seldom experience failure. However, it would be wrong to assume that Scrum is a panacea for all sorts of problems and impediments surfacing during the development process.

As a matter of fact, if the team implementing Scrum fails to deliver, Scrum is not to be blamed as a process by itself never goes wrong; instead, the shortcomings and flaws lie in the implementation of that methodology. To put this in other words, there are a number of pitfalls that a Scrum team can fall into as a result of which things can go haywire and the whole purpose of implementing Scrum can be defeated.

Some of the common Scrum pitfalls are mentioned below:

  • Excessive Up-front Planning– Scrum teams should not indulge in up-front planning; rather, the team should begin coding and development straight away. There is no point in wasting time on deciding the Product Backlog much in advance as the feedback gathered during Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives is important in planning the subsequent sprints.
  • Focus On Tools– Tools are not important; people and processes are. So, there is no need to worry about tools. ‘Finding the appropriate tool’ is just an obstacle to getting started, so the teams should start with the development right away.
  • Problem-Solving in the Daily Scrum– Daily Scrum is neither for discussing problems nor for finding solutions to those problems. Daily Scrums should essentially be time boxed to 5 minutes and be limited to answering the three questions.
  • Management or Stakeholders managing the team– Scrum requires teams to be self-organizing and self-managing; therefore, neither the management nor the stakeholders should try to manage the team or should assign them work. On the other hand, the team too should not wait for either the Project Manager or the Team Lead to delegate the tasks to the team members.
  • Scrum Master As a Contributor– Scrum Master is a specialized role; a Scrum Master is supposed to be watcher and a facilitator, not a developer or a tester. So, he should not be assigned any other duty. Also, he should not direct the team in what to do and what not to do as this would distract him from monitoring whether or not the team adheres to the Scrum principles.
  • Imposed Deadlines and Resources– Scrum teams know best what to complete in a particular Sprint, so neither the stakeholder nor the management should try imposing deadlines or prescribing resources as this would not only demotivate the team, but also reduce their productivity and the quality of the software produced.
  • Distributed Team– Scrum prefers collocated teams as distribution of team members impedes direct and open communication which in turn reduces productivity and quality.

Scrum is the most popular and promising frameworks of Agile. Practicing Scrum in the right way is crucial for building products and launching them faster to market. Scrum teams should make sure that they follow the best practices and avoid these common Scrum pitfalls.




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