Why companies struggle with Scrum





Scrum has an extensive use in project management, but its exclusive use is still not there. From business executives to developers, there is a general expectation from everyone to have understanding how to implement Scrum, but mostly few are clear about its process and thus struggle due to misinformed ideas. This post covers all the reasons why companies struggle with Scrum along with solutions to implement it successfully.

You can arm yourself with the knowledge of how to use scrum on regular basis through project simulations, games, and hands-on practice. 

1.Lack of collaboration in teams

A manager can sense the need for collaboration if the team members can not describe the responsibilities of their coworkers or the team is not able to fit its mission within the company’s objectives. According to Israel Gat, director of the Cutter Consortium and author of The Concise Executive Guide to Agile,”Scrum emphasises on collaboration, especially when the focus is on problem-solving.”  The wisdom of the team is likely to increase as that of an individual when everyone works together in the team.

Encourage a collaborative process

According to Gat, sometimes, the problem is with those team members who are not a good fit, and new team members have to be introduced. If you have the team members who prefer to stay in their cubicles and want a minimum of communication, then it’s a sign of lack of agility in them. If an employee wants to work individually, they will fit better for waterfall methodology not for agile and unfortunately not for scrum too.

It is important for executives and managers to make sure that the team must be clear and open in communication. It’s all a matter of autonomy and structure. You need to give more opportunities to team members to communicate when the decision has to be made.

 2: The team is not allowed to work independently

Scrum has two key concepts autonomy and empowerment, and if a team cannot function independently; there is a problem. According to Michele Sliger, president of Sliger Consulting and coauthor of The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility, “The wrong assumption of new roles by team members can be the reason of it.” In many cases, a project manager has trouble to give up control to a team.

If a project manager is reluctant to give control, they may not be letting go of decision making and giving authority to a team to make decisions. When this happens, team members do not feel the part of a team, and they revert to take orders and start working according to their way which jumps them to Waterfall. If you expect accountability from your team, then you have to give them ownership.

To make the teams part of scrum, make sure your teams feel empowered to work independently, without any botheration of constant checking from higher executives or taking permission to make decisions. If a project manager can’t cede control, then one-on-one coaching may help to become adaptable with the new role in Scrum.

3.  Inflexibility in the team

According to Gat, “There’s no bigger red flag for team dysfunction than lack of red ink on the backlog. For example, if a team has a backlog of stories and there is no change in the backlog after two weeks then it means that the team is not adapting to change efficiently. It also reflects the company’s culture.

How to foster flexibility

It’s the responsibility of an executive or manager to find out what is wrong in the environment that prevents change. In many cases, it is usually a matter of mindset. Sometimes, an established baseline becomes a norm in a company and executives try to minimise variance to the plan. Executives should provide the right cultural context for the team to adapt to Scrum.

It means fostering a culture that is comfortable with any changes, big or small, in direction. Your team must be able to change, combine and reestablish stories to be the real part of Scrum. If members are not able to change the stories, then your culture needs top-down change. The managers need to look at issues such as adherence to strict delivery dates to exploit major benefits of Scrum.

4. The team is afraid to do experiments

A successful Scrum team is highly innovative and believes doing experiments. If it does not happen, it means that the team is not collaborating properly as they should. Further, if the team members criticise and blame each other for problems, then they are likely to have a fear of failure.

How can you reduce the fear of failure?

You can reduce a fear of failure by allowing to affordable experimentation. Set your team free to experiment with new things even if they fail.  The managers need to reassure that the mistakes are the part of a healthy agile process. You can find out what’s working and what’s not with checkpoints every two weeks rather than waiting for several months and then finding a problem.

5. Too much emphasis on delivery predictability

Scrum emphasise on trying to develop predictability around delivery. For example, things like burn-down, story point estimation, velocity, etc. The mentioned examples can be useful, but they can be seized on by managers to shoehorn the members into “predictable” releases and “performance management,” which is a terrible thing to do.

The solution to this is NoEstimates movement. The long-term estimations are not valuable, and managers should focus on reducing the uncertainty around benefits, not on costs. If your team feels that estimation is valuable, then you should encourage your team to do high-level estimation and to spend a little time on story point estimation.

You can even go for lightweight estimation for release planning. It will only work if organisations accept that precise date of software delivery is notoriously difficult to predict, and there is nothing wrong in that.

6. No to Change

People usually have a fear of change and shrink away as it becomes inherently challenging for them. When it comes to disrupting of comfort zones; the team members become rigid. The acceptance to change becomes difficult when team members hold various success stories but with the traditional approach.So, it becomes difficult to deploy scrum for established organisations. Moving from annual releases to weekly iterations is not easy.

The effective implementation of Scrum requires a fundamental agile mindset shift to shake up traditional methods and transform them into effective ones.Business stagnation means extinction in today’s market. You want to change that’s why you have decided to implement Scrum. So, if you seek improvement, then change is necessary.

As a manager, you have to deal smartly with your team which is resistant to change.

Come out of Comfort Zones to do great things

You can start digging down why team members are not able to adapt to scrum. Try to get their thoughts what they feel about it. This will give you a clear picture of the cause of the problem and will easily be able to find the ways to overcome it.

The idea is, rather than jumping to big, you should start doing it at an incremental pace. The results will be better if you will start with small, involving a part of the team initially and then motivate the entire team by showing the results.

Make sure that everyone gets enlightened in the proper way. You can even provide agile and scrum certification training to guide your team about specific practices, especially in the early days.

7.Distributed Team

It’s a perception that the co-located Scrum team is suited better to deliver the good result than the distributed team. Scrum, technically, allows team members to be in different places. However, it is important to point out the agile challenges that distributed teams face.

Communication hampers within distributed teams. Conflicting working hours and different time zones may impair overall capacity to do work, and collaboration becomes challenging.

A lack of communication may lead to delays, meaning client may need to wait before proceeding to the next step of a project. People communicate at unsociable hours due to time zone issues, which can become a reason for poor communication and ultimately drops down productivity.

Everyone’s on the Same Page

While assembling a distributed team, the focus should be on building trust. Communication is the key to ensure the regularity of work.

Below are the practical solutions that can improve communication within a team.

Boot Camps

Making a norm of playing games every day can lead to better interactions. The benefits of a kick-off session are the better understanding of customer goals, requirements, and expectations.

Remote Pairing

It is essential to pair up teams across different locations in case of any critical issue. If a member clocks off at a time, the corresponding team member who is about to start the work across the globe can take over at the same point.

The disciplined and frequent remote pairing is essential on a fixed schedule to avoid conflict in work.


Alignment of Technology

Complete adherence to coding standards, frameworks, tools, and engineering best practices is essential.

8 “How to manage the product backlog,” is not evident in the scrum.

There are two backlogs in scrum: the Sprint Backlog and the Product Backlog. The Sprint Backlog is the scope of work for the sprint and is straightforward. The sprint backlog includes all user stories that are about to be worked on a sprint. However, the Product Backlog is different as it covers all the ideas that may be implemented in the product in the future.

Scrum provides less knowledge on the management of product backlog. Product owners are likely to get confused without training and knowledge. They will go crazy while writing some random user stories and stuffing all into a tool.

It’s a wrong approach. Your team will waste much of its time trying to estimate and understand random ideas, most of which won’t be implemented, and some of which don’t add value in case implemented.

9. Not following as directed

Agile methods are “framework-based.” Frameworks provide the minimal set of roles, ceremonies, and artefacts necessary to create a product frequently. The people who adopt these methods can add those things to the framework in which they found worth. For instance, many teams often leverage practices from Extreme Programming like Pair Programming or Continuous Integration. The additions are appreciated as they are part of building the self-organising teams that Scrum supports.

Sometimes, organisations take this freedom for granted and start compromising on the simple set of practices that are necessary to scrum.

For example, Scrum requires a Product Owner who is knowledgeable and available to the team, but many organisations skip this as they don’t have the time to look for an experienced person. Scrum is a framework that a company adopts and moving forward with a product owner leads to its failure.

An organisation should invest in dedicated and well-trained scrum masters to realise the benefits of Scrum. A ScrumMaster is the facilitator who serves a Team through the Scrum framework and manages the process for how information is exchanged.

10.Change of Membership

Many Agile organisations still tackle resourcing problems by changing the membership of team to provide maximum business value for the stakeholders. No offence, but it’s a necessary evil that should happen.

The implementation of agile brings many changes and generally, most of the teams become uncomfortable with it. This disrupts the team’s rhythm and slows down its velocity. Your team needs to be focused all the time on success in Scrum.  The team will have to pass the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing. The stability is essential to reach the last stage. Switching of tasks, changing of membership and other such fluctuations destabilise the team, making it more difficult to adapt to agile, particularly Scrum.

The Same Language rule

The basic scrum practices remain constant and allow for easier assimilation even if the members of the team have different work ethics, variation in cultural backgrounds, and different processes.

A step to provide scrum training to every team member can significantly help in staff retention.

Author bio

This article is written by danish wadhwa. It is one of the leading certification training providers. “Danish Wadhwa is a strategic thinker and an IT Pro. With more than six years of expertise in the digital marketing industry, he is more than a results-driven individual. He is well-versed in providing high-end technical support, optimizing sales and automating tools to stimulate productivity for businesses.

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.

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