5 Reasons Why Scrum Fails in Software Development

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5 Reasons Why Scrum Fails in Software Development

While your team and management may mean well, if your project is failing, here are five issues you might be facing.

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Generally, the majority of Scrum software development projects are completed successfully. However, there are situations where Scrum does not deliver the expected results. This article discusses why Scrum fails in software development and the possible reasons for it. This article is targeted toward those who have a good understanding and some experience on the Scrum framework.

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1. Lack of Understanding of The Scrum Framework Among Team Members

It is very important to have a good understanding of the Agile Scrum principles, strategies, and approaches. It is equally important that all team members have a common understanding of the Scrum framework, as well as the Scrum roles in the team. The team should know the distinct roles and responsibilities that the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and developers should play.

Typically, in the beginning, the entire team will go through formal training and hands-on exercises. The Scrum Master has a responsibility to constantly coach the team and arrange the same training for new members joining the team. In most organizations, this is not happening; that is one of the most common reasons that different members have a different understanding of the process.

Teams and organizations should both have buy-in for adopting Scrum. The teams that adopt the Agile methodologies proactively tend to be more successful than the teams that are mandated by management to use it.

2. Scrum as A Process Rather Than A Framework

Some experienced developers that work with other software development methodologies for a long time tend to see Scrum as just another process, but it is much more that. It is a framework for you to define your development process in order to match your requirement within a given set of guidelines. It is about fine-tuning and making continuous adjustments to the process based on empirical data from the short development and release cycles.

In every sprint, the team is expected to identify what they can improve in the process to be more efficient and productive. The sprint retrospective plays a critical role in refining and customizing the process. It is very important that the whole Scrum team reflects on each sprint and creates a plan for improvements, which can be adopted in the next sprint.

3. Scrum for All Types of Projects

Scrum has its own values and benefits, but only if applied for the correct project. A Scrum process will not provide the expected results if it is forced to fit a project, or vice versa.

Scrum encourages autonomy and flexibility in the team to find their way. This works extremely well when team members have shared skills and experience. So, if your project involves an abundance of research and consists of developers in specialized areas of knowledge and expertise, you need to think twice before adopting Scrum.

4. Scrum Purely as A Status Monitoring Tool

Scrum is designed to help the development team and make the development process more efficient and productive. It makes the developers' life easier and benefits the management and all stakeholders. 

Scrum is highly transparent and all stakeholders can get the status of the current software project by easily looking at what the team has produced. It eliminates the requirement of having lengthy status reports.

Daily stand-up is for the developers to collaborate, help each other, and see any impediments in the way of getting the sprint user stories successfully completed. However, in some Scrum teams, each member of the team is focused on giving a status update to their Scrum Master, not on what they were actually doing to move their work forward. In some situations, they say that, “Yesterday we made good progress” or, “I have completed 90% of my work and I only have 10% left,” especially if they’re transitioning from an environment where a large emphasis was placed on status reporting.

Scrum promotes evidence-based management practices, so there is no requirement to constantly monitor the individual or the team. Nevertheless, there are many tracking metrics such as burndown and velocity which are available for management to see the progress of the project.

5. Micromanagement of Scrum Teams

Waterfall teams follow the structure of the organization and scheduling is often “top down,” meaning that management sets the pace and schedule. In Agile development, the team is self-organizing. It sets its own schedule based on priorities from the Product Owner and the available capacity of the team.

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Scrum teams are defined as cross-functional, self-organizing teams. This means a group of motivated individuals, who work together toward a goal, have the ability and authority to make decisions and readily adapt to changing demands. They are empowered with decision-making within their scope, and they take on the full responsibility of developing a quality product.

Often, management transitioning from legacy software development processes to Scrum continue to cling to previous habits and practices. They might want to accomplish tasks in a certain way, but unwarranted interference will minimize the ability of the team to deliver project/product increments; this will take the empowerment and ownership away from the team, and the process may no longer comply with Scrum principles.

Further reading

How to Make Scrum Fail

When Scrum Is Not the Right Answer

agile methodologies, antipatterns, autonomy, scrum framework, software development

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