Scrum is by far the most successful framework that falls under the Agile umbrella, and the results it has helped achieve for countless teams and organizations around the world speak for themselves. According to one survey of software development practices, eight out of ten organizations have committed to adopting an Agile framework, which means they must figure out how to introduce the Scrum methodology to teams that have never worked with it.
In this article, we are looking at the biggest challenges that arise from introducing the Scrum methodology into your projects without creating too much friction and resistance in the process. By avoiding the pitfalls that commonly occur during the changeover from waterfall to agile project management, it becomes possible to reap the benefits of the Scrum methodology right from the start and quickly build momentum within the organization.
Overcoming resistance when introducing the Scrum methodology
Most people can’t help but resist change, and software developers, including mobile and web app developers, are no exception. As much as software developers like to believe that it’s in their nature to constantly learn new skills and adapt to changing market demands, the truth is that they get used to their own ways of doing things just as quickly as everyone else.
Despite its simplicity, the Scrum methodology is a massive disruption that dismantles most existing roles and introduces a plethora of Scrum-related terms. For developers that have been practicing waterfall development for the last few decades, the introduction of Scrum may feel as if they were forced to learn a new language.
Instead of developers, testers, business analysts, and project managers, the Scrum methodology specifies three roles: product owner (holds the vision for the product), scrum master (helps the team leverage Scrum to build the product), and the development team (builds the product).
The Scrum methodology also fundamentally changes how teams approach problems and work together.
“Much like a rugby team (where it gets its name) training for the big game, Scrum encourages teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve,”
– Claire Drumond, a marketing strategist, speaker, and writer for Atlassian.
There’s only one way how to successfully overcome resistance to change: a gradual transition from a heavyweight software development approach to an Agile methodology such as Scrum. Everyone affected by the transition to Scrum should be familiar with its benefits, understand its potential pitfalls, and know what their new role will be.
Software developers value facts and logical arguments over empty promises, and they can appreciate innovations with clear benefits.
Adopting iterative and incremental mindset
Just because a team breaks down a waterfall project into multiple iterations, doesn’t mean that the team is Agile. By building each feature one after another and at the same time gradually increasing feature richness, Agile combines an iterative and incremental approach, which separates it from the iterative waterfall.
Even though both Agile and the Scrum methodology have been around for a long time, many software developers have yet to adopt the right mindset. Why? Because they’re often not familiar with the underlying principles that underpin the Scrum methodology, as described in the framework presented in A Guide to the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK Guide):
- Empirical Process Control: Make decisions based on transparency, inspection, and adaptation—not theory.
- Self-organization: Teams deliver significantly greater value when self-organized and autonomous, resulting in better team buy-in and shared ownership.
- Collaboration: Advocating project management as a shared value-creation process, this principle discourages direct management of teams.
- Value-based Prioritization: Scrum strives to deliver maximum business value by putting the most important tasks first and ensuring that no time is wasted on things that do not add immediate value.
- Time-boxing: When time is used as a limiting constraint by setting time boxes and refusing to extend them, the team can fall into a productive rhythm and achieve more in less time.
“The nature of scrum promotes inclusiveness of people to work together as a single unit working towards a common goal and objective with shared commitments, it promotes rapid feedback cycles which we come to know as inspect and adapt cycles not only of the working product but also of the process,”
“It focuses on producing working software as the primary measure of success and gives us the tools to rapidly respond to change.”
– Thomas Reynolds, the author of The Agile Mindset.
The good news is that developers are usually quick to adopt the right mindset once they recognize the positive benefits of the Scrum methodology. When they experience first-hand how quickly and painlessly it allows them to release an early version of software, they will never want to go back.
To successfully introduce the Scrum methodology in your project, you must proceed methodically and don’t force it too suddenly on people who have no experience with Agile software development. Once you successfully overcome the initial resistance, you can be sure that Scrum will show its full potential and convince everyone that Agile is the way to go.