When we mention “scrum sprints”, we’re not referring to rugby.
Instead, we’re referring to a feature that belongs to Scrum, a project management framework, that many teams use for being more iterative and collaborative while staying efficient.
For years, Scrum’s been championed for helping the modern business build flexible work environments that are more tuned to our real-time digital world.
However, these positive outcomes are only part of the story because implementing it comes with many potential problems – problems that involve a clashing of team members, workflow processes that are wasteful and don’t meet requirements, and an overall uninspiring work culture.
If you’re team is facing these problems with the introduction of Scrum, we’ll breakdown a number of solutions so that your work culture will thrive and fully realize Scrum’s advantages.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a project management framework in which work is completed and reviewed in repeatable work cycles (not exceeding 30 days). Milestones contribute to the overall completion of a project such as the development of software or a product, and are completed within fixed-length iterations, which are labelled as Sprints. Smaller tasks within Sprints are completed at approximately 4-16 hours in length. Once complete, stakeholders and team members meet to plan the next objectives.
This sounds great in theory, but occasionally in practice, everybody feels frustrated because Scrum has just put more pressure on team members, resulting in deliverables that are mediocre at best.
Why Scrum Isn’t Working and Solutions to Fix Them
If Scrum is creating more challenges for you and your team members, here’s 3 effective steps you can take.
1. You Believe Your Team isn’t Suited to Scrum
It can be difficult with highly creative, discover-focused or experimental teams to complete Scrum Sprints 4-16 hours tasks. This is because these departments may be reliant on external partners or other external dependencies, or they don’t deliver demo products ready for a review at the end of a Sprint.
Take for example, a sales team, a department that doesn’t have a physical product to reveal for feedback, potentially making the review process uncomfortable for them in front of stakeholders and other team members.
Discuss and plan out what an effective review would look like and keep this in mind when planning the next Sprint. Rather than showing dry metrics and receiving negative feedback at the end of an iteration, help the team come up with a more effective approach.
For example, a sales team can quote customers, and outline discovered customer behaviours and their needs, which in turn the software developers or designers may find very useful to take on board.
This will help diffuse any stress build up, or resentment within the work culture against Scrum.
2. The Product Owner is Not Available
Is your product owner busy or missing and not being part of the team? The product owner needs to be available to stakeholders, customers, the development team and especially the Scrum Master so they can pass on important information and answer questions in a timely manner.
If the product owner is regularly failing to show up to sprint plan or review meetings, the team will end up determining the criteria on their own and potentially deliver incorrectly at the end of the project.
The Scrum Master will try to establish what is preventing the Product Owner from attending meetings or reviewing the work regularly, and determine if this a systemic issue or something than can be resolved. A representative could be appointed to fill the role of the Product Owner if required.
3. Work Turnaround Dates Have Become Unreasonable
Another potential problem with Scrum is when team members (maybe Product Owners, managers) will try to overload the 2-week Sprint with more work than can reasonably be handled, that will result in extremely stressed team members and a poor result. Or perhaps it’s a misjudgment.
Regardless, when milestones start becoming difficult to complete, it’s only a matter of time before team members start to internalize this as a failure of their own and a failure of Scrum. And now there’s a risk of bad feeling creeping into the work culture. But the problem isn’t Scrum, it’s bad management.
The Scrum Master should explain their realization to the team, and then give the team autonomy to get tasks done to clear the backlog by assigning each task to a specific team member. This will boost productivity and allow creativity to flow.
Assess Whether Scrum Sprints are Right for Your Team
The Scrum framework should never force you to compromise on quality nor exacerbate problems. The chances of project failure are high if people are not very committed or cooperative, but hopefully with these solutions you can successfully navigate the bumps in the road.
Sometimes, Scrum just doesn’t work for certain projects, and that’s something that needs to be thought about as a final option.