10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum- Impetus White Paper


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Mistakes by Scrum adopters, in tweaking or avoiding defined Scrum rules, can result in the reduction of the benefits offered by Scrum practices. Scrum practitioners need to adhere to Scrum rules and avoid customizing the practice.

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10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum- Impetus White Paper

  1. 1. 10 Mistakes to Avoid inScrumAbstractMistakes by Scrum adopters, in tweaking or avoiding definedScrum rules, can result in the reduction of the benefits offeredby Scrum practices. Scrum practitioners need to adhere to Scrumrules and avoid customizing the practice.Impetus Technologies Inc.www.impetus.comW H I T E P A P E R
  2. 2. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum2Table of ContentsIntroduction...........................................................................................................310 mistakes to avoid..............................................................................................3Case Study..............................................................................................................6Summary................................................................................................................7
  3. 3. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum3IntroductionScrum adopters tend to bypass Scrum rules as they are more familiar andcomfortable with traditional methodologies. In order to make the process moreconvenient for them, they sometimes tweak Scrum rules and create their ownversion of the Scrum practice. However, these mistakes cost them as they leadto a reduction in the benefits offered by Scrum.Some of these mistakes not only impact the productivity and efficiency of theteam, but also reduce its synergy. Scrum rules have been defined to make theprocess more effective for the team, which is why the team and managementexecutives must strive to enhance the practice and achieve the maximumbenefits.This white paper highlights some of typical mistakes that Scrum adopters maketheir causes, impact, and the ways in which they can be avoided and corrected.10 Mistakes to Avoid1. Incomplete User stories and lack of Backlog groomingDefining User stories with complete details is the factor of time andintention. Sometimes, product owners and team members are so engagedin their current Sprint work that they overlook the backlog groomingprocess and the preparation for the next Sprint. The leads to more time andeffort being spent during the next Sprint. Product owners sometimesbelieve that the work for a particular User story is so intuitive that noadditional details are required. They then refrain from completing itsdetails. However, this can result in confusion and unexpected results at alater stage.To avoid any potential confusion for the Scrum team, it is essential that Userstories have the complete details and that backlog grooming is regularlypracticed to uncover any hidden details.2. Estimating the User story size based on effort estimationAlthough the Scrum practice does not give a lot weightage to accurateestimation of the User story, it is important to determine its appropriatesize to understand the velocity and productivity of the Scrum team. As Userstories are estimated in arbitrary units like User story points, Scrum
  4. 4. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum4provides a platform to compare two User stories and determine the team’sefficiency in implementing them.It has been observed that some teams use the estimated efforts todetermine the User story size. This practice not only varies the size of theUser story based on the team’s efficiency, but also makes it more difficult todetermine the change in the team’s productivity with time.The use of the ‘caparison’ method is recommended for determining the sizeof the User story. It suggests that size be determined by comparing thecurrent User story with the previous ones that have been similarlydeployed. Initially it is difficult to determine the size, but becomes easierwith experience.3. Introducing work scope changes in the middle of the SprintThis is a very common mistake which can be disruptive for the team. Theremay be some practical reasons which invite the changes, but these canimpact the planned commitments for the Sprint. They can also sometimesdemoralize team members.The scope of the work should be locked down for a Sprint and any changesin the middle of the Sprint should be discouraged. If product owners believethere are higher priority User stories, they can cancel the current Sprint andstart a new one with an updated Sprint goal.4. Shuffling team members in the middle of the SprintOrganization dynamics make changes inevitable, but they can impact theplanned deliverables for a Sprint if introduced in during its course.Shuffling team members makes collaboration difficult within the team andcauses confusion.All team members for a particular Sprint should be locked down andchanges avoided in the middle of the Sprint. If the changes are unavoidable,product owners can cancel the current Sprint and start a new one withupdated Sprint goals.5. Spilling over incomplete work to the next SprintSometimes, the Scrum team tries to move the incomplete User stories tothe next Sprint as they may not be complete in all respects. It can be theresult of poor or no backlog grooming, but defeats the purpose of Scrum todeliver the ‘potentially shippable’ product.
  5. 5. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum5First of all, it is very important to define the meaning of ‘Done’ for the team.Any User story, planned for a particular Sprint, should be complied with‘Done’ by the end of the Sprint. If there are any exceptions, product ownershold the right to accept or reject the work. But, these exceptions should beavoided or minimized in order to provide better predictability and visibility.6. Not following Scrum ceremonies as prescribedSome Scrum teams try to alter the formats prescribed by the Scrum practiceby changing the agenda or deviating from the time limits. This can result inreducing the productive time available to the team. Moreover, sometimes,certain ceremonies are missed in the Sprint.The recommended formats for Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, SprintRetrospective and Sprint Review are defined to make the maximum use ofthe time and avoid any other potential requirements for unnecessarymeetings. It is therefore suggested that the Scrum ceremonies be followedin their prescribed format in order to gain the most benefits.7. Playing by hierarchy of the team structureScrum defines all team members as ‘Developers’ and recommends nothaving any titles. However, most of the organizations have a hierarchicalstructure and titles for employees. This hierarchical structure sometimesbecomes a hindrance to collaboration. Moreover, team members also getinfluenced by non-Scrum members as they report to them, which may resultin a deviation from the Sprint goal.All team members may be playing different roles, but they are at the samelevel in the Scrum team. Therefore, ego clashes should be avoided. Anychanges suggested by non-Scrum members should be first discussed withthe Scrum Master and product owner, who can then communicate them tothe team. The Scrum Master should protect the team from any outsideimpacts.8. Distinction of roles among cross-functional team membersThe Scrum team consists of cross-functional team members playingdifferent roles. But, sometime, they are so rigid about their roles that theydo not want to cross their functional boundaries. For example, someprogrammers say no to test the User story. It may result in the Scrum goalnot being met.The Scrum team may consist of cross-functional team members, but they allwork to meet the Sprint goal. It may require them to wear different hats as
  6. 6. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum6the situation demands, which means that team members should begroomed to play any required role as needed.9. Trying to match up the estimated task hours ignoring actualsTeam members estimate their task efforts based on their assessment of theUser story work in the Sprint planning meeting. However, as they go along,they might experience the deviation between estimated and actual effort. Itmay drive team members to start tweaking actual hours to make them closeto the estimated ones. This practice blurs the shortcomings andimprovements required in task estimation.Team members should be groomed and prepared for the fact that thedifference between estimated and actual task efforts can happen. Theymust understand that this provides them with the opportunity to examinethe situation in retrospect and improve on the task estimation.10. Working without a Sprint goalThe Sprint goal is the outcome of a Sprint planning meeting and defines theobjective for the Sprint work. If the goal is not met at the end of the Sprint,the product owner can actually reject the Sprint work. However, someteams overlook the concept of the Sprint goal and do not define it for theSprints. Without this, it is difficult to weigh the success or failure of theSprint.The Scrum goal should be stated in terms of recognizable (usually, workingsoftware) outcomes. The goal helps team members to recognize what isimportant when weighing options during the Sprint. It usually representsthe minimum functionality to be delivered.Case StudyThe challengeWe observed in one of the engagements that the Scrum team memberswere deviating from the hierarchy they reported to. This was occasionallygoing against the goal of the Sprint. It was causing confusion among teammembers regarding the expectations and priority of their tasks. It was notonly impacting the commitments for the Sprint, but also demoralizing teammembers.Solution offered
  7. 7. 10 Mistakes to avoid in Scrum7The first step for Impetus was to negotiate and publish a workingagreement between the Management and the Scrum Team. The mostimportant task was to ensure that managers did not meddle with thepriorities within the Sprint, and that the team provided a full transparentdaily status. Managers were allowed to influence the priorities of the nextSprint by negotiating with the product owners. They were invited to Backloggrooming activities if they had a legitimate stake in the priorities.The second step was to introduce an internal service desk for the managers,including department managers and upper managers, and convince themabout the important of using the service desk to submit their requests. Thisallowed us to manage these request from outside the Scrum team.SummaryThe Scrum practice has defined the rules for Scrum teams to follow and allowedthem to choose their own operational strategies. Following prescribed Scrumrules makes things more efficient and disciplined. Altering these rules mayprovide short-term gains, but may result in disadvantages in the longer run.About ImpetusImpetus is a Software Solutions and Services Company with deeptechnical maturity that brings you thought leadership, proactiveinnovation, and a track record of success. Our Services and Solutionsportfolio includes Carrier grade large systems, Big Data, Cloud,Enterprise Mobility, and Test and Performance Engineering.Website: www.impetus.com | Email: inquiry@impetus.com© 2013 Impetus Technologies, Inc.All rights reserved. Product andcompany names mentioned hereinmay be trademarks of theirrespective companies. May 2013