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10 Lingering Scrum Challenges

Agile keeps evolving, but the barriers to implementation stay largely the same. With scrum in particular, businesses keep banging their heads on the same roadblocks. In an article for Scrum Alliance, Zoran Vujkov discusses 10 of these lingering challenges:

  1. Company culture
  2. Treating scrum as a silver bullet
  3. Understanding scrum principles
  4. Poorly written requirements
  5. Lacking definition of done
  6. Dysfunctional leadership
  7. Poor agile coaching
  8. Improper use of scrum ceremonies
  9. Lack of visibility
  10. Improper use of scrum roles

Perennial Problems

When company culture does not agree with scrum, too many businesses opt to change scrum rather than their culture. That defeats the purpose of using scrum at all, and it shows a lack of comprehension of scrum principles. Every time that a business tries to “do agile” because they just assume it will make things better, the implementation is labored, painful, and seldom results in the expected benefits.

Many of the challenges Vujkov discusses center around misunderstanding and misuse of scrum principles, such as choosing to skip daily standups or trying to make people become hybrid scrum master-project managers. Other problems are a result of sloppiness, such as thinking that scrum is a license to create vague requirements in the name of limiting documentation. Having a weak or nonexistent definition of done does not help things either:

Many Scrum Teams have software that is not “done” at the end of the sprint. One of the main reasons is related to a poor, undefined, or unclear Definition of Done (DoD). Typically, these Scrum Teams lack engineering practices (e.g., review code, automated integration testing, unit testing, continuous integration, etc.). As a consequence, these Scrum Teams create bad code and accumulate technical debt, which reduces the team’s velocity. DoD should not only include different engineering practices but also integration testing and continuous integration. The key is to contain bugs within a sprint by fixing them immediately, because that will increase the team’s velocity.

In virtually all cases, uninformed or dysfunctional leadership is ultimately to blame for stifled agile implementations. So if businesses would like to succeed with scrum, maybe the education on it should begin at the top.

For further elaboration on each of these challenges, you can view the original article here: https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2017/november/why-so-many-companies-struggle-with-the-scrum-fram

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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