Confessions of Agile Scrum Project

Agile Scrum is a widely used method of project management in the modern software development industry and it is very active and adopted in most companies considering its advantages of quick feedback cycle via early stakeholder involvement, flexible deliverables, adaptability etc. It enables organisations to easily accept changing requirements and create products that meet business objectives. Products were delivered market-fit using the Scrum framework with great efficiency and less effort wasted on delivering incorrect requirements. Scrum is simple and easy to apply to any size project or product.

However, many new teams that adopt Agile Scrum or matured teams that have been using Agile Scrum misinterpret and take exceptions, resulting in burned out products and teams.

The conceptual simplicity of Scrum is most likely the reason it is improperly adopted.

Improper education, improper comprehension, and the practicality of the product delivery situations are other reasons why projects eventually become more inefficient rather than maturing.

If you are someone new to Agile Scrum I would recommend checking out my compact ebook.

The following are some scenarios I’ve seen in various real-world scrum projects where the Scrum principles and guidance have been violated. I hope that these scenarios will help you identify, realise, and steer your projects in the right direction.

User Story Grooming during Sprint planning

Sprint planning meeting is conducted at the start of the sprint. In this meeting, team needs to pick up stories that have been fully groomed i.e. contain details what needs to be achieved in the form of acceptance criteria. Sometimes, the grooming sessions are not conducted duly, which results in a lack of groomed stories for sprint. Because of this, the team tends to groom stories either in sprint planning meeting or just pick up the story and groom along with the development which causes lot of burn out for the team with unclear requirements but defined deadline to deliver.

Absence/Skip of DoD

DoD stands for Definition of Done. Definition of Done is a collection of agreed-upon set of items that must be met before a user story can be considered complete. DoD applies for all the user stories across a project. DoD is not defined in some Agile scrum projects, or some stories comfortably skip DoD, which is a bad practise. Defining DoD clarifies when developers, product owners, and other stakeholders should consider a story completed.Without DoD, an inferior engineering product will be delivered.

No/Ineffective Retrospectives

Retrospective is a scrum ceremony in which the team meets to discuss “what went well” and “what did not go well” for the previous sprint. Some teams tend to skip this Retrospective ceremony, or they meet and create a big bucket list of action items to execute in order to increase the effectiveness of the next sprint, but they fail to execute even one action item.

No/Ineffective feedback from stakeholders during Sprint review

During sprint review, the team shows off their sprint work. These meetings can sometimes be very brief, with no time for feedback. Sometimes stakeholders don’t have much insight into the work being done by the team, so no feedback is given, which may eventually weaken the delivery enthusiasm and product conviction to deliver the customer-fit product.

Using Standup as status meetings

Standups are daily meetings that are run for max 15 minutes and are intended to be participative by the entire team. Some teams use these meetings as status updates, dragging them out for extended periods of time. These meetings are actually intended to be used by each agile scrum team member to convey what they are working on and any hindrances to entire team. Instead each team member use them the convey their work status to the team lead or manager which is a bad practice.

Lack of Sprint goal

Scrum guidelines state that each sprint should have a sprint goal and pertaining high priority user stories should be selected based on the sprint goal. Some teams do not define sprint goals, so they pick up disparate user stories, resulting in a cohesive team working in silos.

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