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Why Hasn’t Agile Or Scrum Improved My Software Development?

How to Diagnose Why Scrum “Isn’t Working” A lot of software development teams switch to Agile development in order to solve some immediate problems they are experiencing.  A few sprints in, it becomes clear:  the problem wasn’t solved.  It’s easy to want to throw in the towel and go back to your old software development methodology.  Yeah, […]

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May 02, 2013

How to Diagnose Why Scrum “Isn’t Working”

A lot of software development teams switch to Agile development in order to solve some immediate problems they are experiencing.  A few sprints in, it becomes clear:  the problem wasn’t solved.  It’s easy to want to throw in the towel and go back to your old software development methodology.  Yeah, there were problems before, but it felt like you knew the scope of your team’s problems.

It’s also easy to blame Agile for why your team is struggling in the first place.  But, before you cut bait with Agile, let’s try to identify some common problems Agile teams face and how to use that information to create your own solutions to improve your software, increase your timeliness of delivery, and increase the satisfaction of your team or customers.

Your Culture Needs to Be More Agile

There are several organizational aspects that help a team adopt Agile, including enterprise-level support, transparency, and asking for the right information.

You Need to Improve Your Software Engineering

I often hear Agile teams talk about how tough it is to do development AND testing in such a short period, and why don’t we just do testing in a different sprint?  Because that introduces risk!  Ken Schwaber talks about how work in progress is inventory waste, one of the seven deadly wastes from Post-World War II Japanese manufacturing.  Keep your risk low by getting to done-done, not developer-done in one sprint.  There are a lot of software engineering practices that help your Scrum team work smarter, not harder.  Your team should look into:

You are Getting Fancy Without Thinking About the Basics

Especially when starting out, it’s natural to want to do Agile in a way that doesn’t cause lots of organizational disruption.  So, terms like “Scrum-ish” get tossed around.  Fine.  Go for it.  Just make sure that you focus on what’s important:

So, these are my three guesses as to why Scrum isn’t “working” for you.  But, just remember:

Agile and Scrum don’t solve your problems, they only illuminate them.

So, what do you think?  You knew that software development would be slow and buggy, but a known-known is better than an unknown-unknown, right?  What other challenges has Scrum or Agile illuminated for you?

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