Challenges in Scaling Scrum That You Should Address Immediately

13 Nov, 2015
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Software companies that are new to the concept of Agile and Scrum often want to know what are the challenges in scaling Scrum. Such organizations typically try to scale Scrum with the desire to complete development functions swiftly by adding more number of members to the product backlog. However in that process, they at times ignore the challenges, they might face in the long run.

For many organizations, the desire to scale Scrum often suffers from loopholes that were originally meant to be tackled through Scrum. Issues such as products release date not working, technical debt rising rapidly, and setbacks related to cross-teams halting continuous integration, shouldn’t be seen as small and ignored by software teams. If not addressed on time, these issues can drive a project towards failure. So let’s find out what are some of the common challenges in scaling Scrum that a software organization can face.

Ideal team size

Software organizations often don’t pay much attention to this aspect while scaling Scrum. It is highly debatable what should be the optimal size of a Scrum team. In most cases, organizations agree that smaller the size of the team, it becomes more functional and productive. However, defining the optimal size of a Scrum team remains a challenge. The ideal size for a Scrum team, including testers, should be around 7 with the option of plus/minus 2. But the ideal team size can change, if there is a need to handle a big project. In such condition, just going by what’s written on book would not be a smart thing to do.

Stand-up meetings

In any Scrum project, daily stand-up meetings hold lot of significance. A daily Scrum or stand-up meeting set the context for the coming day’s work. Generally, each team will plan their own sprint and daily stand-ups. In most cases, it’s been observed that new Scrum teams are not aware about the Scrum process and the intended purpose of daily stand-up meetings. To avoid such issues, Scrum teams need to be coached and trained properly, and a Scrum Master plays a pivotal role in doing that.

Role of a Scrum Master

A Scrum Master bears an essential role, as a focused facilitator, a coach and a servant leader in an Agile development team. He/she is responsible for delivering maximum value to the customer by ensuring that all the team members are equipped with the resources they need, have access to an efficient communication system and are shielded from unnecessary distractions or hurdles. If a software organization hires a single Scrum Master to handle multiple Scrum teams, then the entire objective of having a Scrum is bound to suffer. If the Scrum Master is not aware what’s happening in a team and has to manage multiple teams at the same time, it is definitely going to impact the overall efficiency of a Scrum team. A single Scrum Master for a single team is the ideal solution for the team to perform efficiently.

Importance of a Product Owner

The Product Owner plays a very important part in Scrum. The Product Owner apart from creating and updating the release plan and release reports also coordinates with the team and the stakeholders during the entire release. In many cases, software companies find it difficult to fill the role of a Product Owner with one person. As a quick fix to the problem, these companies split the Product Owner’s responsibilities across multiple individuals and as a result lose most of the power of the Product Owner role and fail to benefit from massive opportunities.

These are some common challenges in scaling Scrum that Scrum teams often face and need to address them right away to progress smoothly. There are certainly other issues that a Scrum team might face during their planning meetings. Let us know about your experience in the comments!

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Anirban Guha
Software Engineer at coMakeIT

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