Big Mistakes When Using Scrum

There is no doubt of how beneficial the agile methodology has been for those companies that are willing to embrace it. If you require some evidence of its effectiveness and are not yet using it yourself, you could take a glance at how some of the world’s biggest companies have relied on the agile approach as an essential part in their day to day activities; companies like IBM, Cisco, AT&T and Microsoft are just some of the extensive list of Fortune 500 companies using agile.

However, the agile framework can only be defined as a business tool, and as any tool it will only work depending on the effort, intention and execution behind it. As the saying goes “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”; if you are not properly using a tool with the right approach, goal and technique it is meant for, you will certainly be disappointed and end up rendering it useless.

Being that, we wanted to create a short list of mistakes to avoid when using scrum to help set you on the right track and positively affect your company’s endeavors.

Mistake #1: The Scrum Master is not your Standard Project Manager

Even though it is easy to confuse both, a Scrum Master and a Project Manager’s purpose differ and does not completely overlap in the tasks each should carry out.

While a Project Manager helps managing resources, scope and the timelines of any given project, a Scrum Master’s goal is to facilitate and ensure a team’s success over a single project via removing impediments, coaching, sprint monitoring and sprint planning among many other responsibilities. The job of a Project Manager is to bring projects to fruition and meeting business goals, a Scrum Master’s job is to bring the team cohesiveness by becoming the glue that holds it together.

Mistake #2: Copy-Pasting to Scale your Scrum Approach

Properly scaling scrum is not just about increasing numbers. In the manufacturing industry it makes sense to increase numbers when the end goal has been doubled or tripled. It sounds like basic math; if a team of 10 is currently producing 20 cars on a given period and you have to increase that number up to 40 during the same period you would just think about doubling the number of workers to 20, ¿right?. However, when developing software, for example, it is not possible to just increase the team size. Developing software is creative work and not plain production. Adding more people will not result in more productivity.

When an expected product size increases and a team faces a bigger scope of domains to take on, you fill find that understanding and maintaining these new requirements cannot be done by a single team. A need to increase the number of teams tackling different domains of the product arises in order to allow each group to be able to complete a subset of tasks.

Mistake #3: Getting Rid of Documentation Altogether

Scrum encourages adaptability and functionality over rigid documentation and that is a fact. Nevertheless, that does not mean you should completely get rid of documentation altogether.

One of the greatest benefits of using agile methodologies is the way it helps you change course quickly allowing you to prepare for the future in real time. But not documenting your past, even in if in the same current sprint, is a big mistake as you are basically letting go of the valuable knowledge and experience the team already has. Just make sure that anything you decide to write is valuable.

Speaking of valuable information, we do hope you find this article helpful. Remember that Agile is just a framework which makes it vulnerable to potentially unforeseen variables. However, the way it is structured will most likely allow you tackle each challenge, if not, don’t hesitate to reach out, we will be happy to help you.

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