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  • Morten Gran

Scrum for teams - benefits, pitfalls and how to overcome them

Scrum has been around for 25+ years. Since its inception, Scrum has become one of the most widely adopted agile frameworks, and is used by teams and organizations around the world to manage a wide variety of projects, including software development, product development, and business operations. It is particularly well-suited to situations where there is a high degree of uncertainty or complexity, and where the needs of the customer are likely to change over the course of the project.

Improved communication: Scrum emphasizes face-to-face communication among team members, which helps to reduce misunderstandings and improve collaboration. Increased flexibility: Scrum allows teams to respond quickly to change and adapt to new requirements or challenges. Better risk management: Scrum helps teams to identify and address potential risks early in the project, which can prevent costly delays or failures. Higher quality: Scrum encourages the use of short iterations and regular testing, which helps to identify and fix problems early in the process. Increased transparency: Scrum promotes the use of clear and concise reporting, which helps stakeholders to understand the progress and status of the project. Overall, Scrum can be a useful tool for helping teams to deliver complex projects on time and within budget, while also maintaining high levels of quality and responsiveness to change. Agility and Scrum Some of Scrum's popularity might be credited to its lightweight approach and clear and concise rules. This leads to Scrum being relatively easy to implement. However, this is also one of the pitfalls of Scrum. If you expect Scrum to fix all your issues without having the correct foundation in the team or organisation, you will not be successful. It will be like putting a band-aid on an open wound that needs stitches. In order to get value from scrum you need a strong agile foundation. To illustrate why, let's use the Agile Onion model. The Agile Onion model is a useful tool for teams looking to understand and adopt an agile mindset, and can help them to identify areas for improvement and focus their efforts on building a strong foundation for agile transformation.

The model was created by Bruce A. Schneider, a thought leader in agile methodologies, to help teams understand the mindset and practices that are necessary for successful agile transformation. At the outer layers of the onion you will find values, principles and mindset. These are not very visible concepts, but they are crucial to succeeding. Values and principles represents the core values and principles of agile, such as collaboration, customer focus, and the ability to adapt to change. The mindset layer represents the mindset and behaviors that are necessary for agile transformation, including a focus on continuous learning, experimentation, and innovation. Scrum belongs to the layer called practices, representing the specific practices and processes that teams use to implement agile. This is key. Scrum is a framework to be used to implement agile, not agile itself. In order to succeed, the team or organisation must first understand agile and then how Scrum can be use to that effect. Challenges and how to solve them There are several challenges a team using scrum needs to overcome. One of them is difficulty with estimation. Accurately estimating the amount of work that can be completed within a sprint can be difficult, particularly for teams that are new to Scrum or have not yet developed a strong understanding of their capacity and capabilities. This can lead to sprints that are over- or under-committed, which can impact the team's ability to deliver on their commitments. Other common challenges include resistance to change, particularly among team members who are used to traditional waterfall approaches, and difficulty with team cohesion, especially when working with distributed or virtual teams. Luckily, there are techniques and tools we can use to address these issues. To improve estimation accuracy, teams can adopt techniques such as planning poker or reference stories to help them better understand the size and complexity of work items. It is also helpful to track and analyze historical data to identify patterns and improve future estimates. To address resistance to change, it is important to communicate the benefits of Scrum and involve team members in the decision-making process. Providing training and support, and making a concerted effort to listen to and address concerns, can also be helpful. To improve team cohesion, it is important to establish clear roles and responsibilities, and to establish regular communication channels such as daily stand-ups and retrospectives. It can also be helpful to encourage team bonding and establish norms and values to build trust and collaboration. Also it is important to create an environment where the team members identify as a part of a value stream by recognizing their role in contributing to the overall flow of value to the customer. This might involve understanding the specific tasks and responsibilities they are responsible for within their workflow and how they fit into the larger value stream. It could also involve actively collaborating with other team members and working together to identify and remove any bottlenecks or obstacles that may be impeding the flow of value. It is also worth noting that these challenges are not unique to Scrum, and that any team or organization undergoing a change process may encounter similar obstacles. The key is to be proactive in seeking out support and resources, and to be open to continuous improvement in order to overcome these challenges. To summarize. Scrum will not solve all your problems, but can be wonderful when used in a way that fits your team and its purpose. You will be able to react to change faster, improve collaboration within the organisation, increase quality and visiblity of progress and work without the need for strict reporting and status meetings. The team will also increase ownership of the product and generally improve commitment. If you find this interesting and want to discuss agility or Scrum, or if you want to learn more about the implementation of Scrum, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or e-mail.

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