Success Factors for Using Scrum and Getting Benefits

SuccessFactorsListen to SPaMCAST 250: Success with Agile!

There are organization who struggle to get Scrum implemented and used, and have difficulties to adopt agile ways of working. While the Scrum framework looks simple, getting people to work in an agile way with Scrum and getting benefits out of it appears to be difficult for some organizations. But I also see organizations that are successful with Scrum and agile, and which have found better ways to implement it. I made a list of the success factors that helped them to make a difference. Do you recognize them? Which ones do you know?

The success factors that I see to get Scrum implemented and used in organizations are:

  • The way that Scrum / Agile is introduced to teams, and the freedom that teams have to adopt it to their needs and to become self organizing
  • The opportunities that a team takes to reflect upon how they use Scrum, and how they adapt their way of working (e.g. by doing retrospectives)
  • The level of understanding of the “why” of agile and Scrum, which enables team members to develop an agile mindset (in stead of just doing Scrum without really understanding it)
  • The level of agile coaching and mentoring in an organization. The amount of support that professionals get in the why and how can crucial to make Scrum work
  • The way that Scrum teams manage to interface and collaborate with parts of the organization that are not Agile / Scrum. E.g. projects and programs, reporting, KPIs, line managers, etc.

Do you recognize these success factors? Are there other success factors that you see which help to get Scrum implemented and used? Please share them!

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. wenting

    I’m thinking about:
    – Don’t finger point.
    – Favor thorough retrospective : give team enough time to brainstorm and analyze the factors having positive or negative impacts on the sprint, iterate solution’s implementation. Don’t give up on first failures and blame that Agile doesn’t suit.
    – Keep it fun! Time is flying, but we do it with pleasure.

    1. BenLinders

      Thanks Wenting for your additions!

      I agree with you, teams should get enough room and support to learn a Scrum way of working, and adapt it to their needs, and the needs of the organization. Sometimes they have to take that time, if they do not reflect and adapt then it will take longer before they work as an effective team.

  2. Elena Yatzeck

    Thought provoking as always, Ben. I especially agree with your point about corporate commitment and investment in coaching. Upfront investment is needed for any serious change. I slightly disagree with the idea that “flexibility” for teams is a good lead measure for success. Eventually this would be true, but you want a nice, solid “Shu” phase to acquaint people with their options before they break out into spontaneous “ha” and “ri.” And the one I would add is that you need a well understood set of desired benefits to be accrued by adoption. Too often we try to sell scrum as beneficial in and of itself. But the motivation that pulls teams through the hard parts of the change curve will usually be a set of business drivers like increased quality, better risk handling, higher team morale, lower cost of ownership, accelerated ROI, etc.


    1. BenLinders

      Thanks for your remarks and additions Elena!

      Although I agree with you that teams should first have an understanding of Scrum (e.g. by doing some sprints “by the book”) before adapting their way of working, I’ve seen deployment fail when teams perceived it as something that they were pushed to do. It can create resistance when implementing agile, and a way to prevent this is to create enough flexibility for teams from the start.

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