Thursday, 10 June 2010

Scrum: Pain Points & Resolutions - Time

When you want to try scrum the biggest pain point is often the amount of time, real and perceived, that will be needed to implement the process.  This post attempts to outline the most frequently raised objections and potential resolutions.

Time required for all the meetings

The first objection is frequently related to time require to hold the various meetings which in turn reduces the time available by the developers for actually developing/supporting the software.

This can be a fairly easy objection to overcome as the majority of these activities were always going on in the organisation and scrum just makes this time visible to managers.  It is true that additional time will be taken up by daily stand-ups but as they are time boxed and should be no more than 15 minutes it is a small price to pay for ensuring everybody is up to date with the state of the work.

Time to perform related tasks

The next objection that is usually raised is related to the extra work people will have to do on top of their normal duties, it usually becomes more of an issue when you explain that you really want a dedicated person to take on the role of ScrumMaster let alone the need for a person to handle the Product Owner duties.

This is a far harder objection to overcome with only a limited number of resolutions to the problem.

The easiest way to resolve this is by having the support of senior management who understand the need and can reorganise roles/work as necessary to allow people to undertake their new role/responsibilities.

If you don’t have the explicit support of management to reorganise the work but you do have their implicit support to allow you to try and implement scrum as long as “the work gets done” another possibility is looking to share some of the work done by the people that are to take on new roles/responsibilities to give them space to do the work that is required.

The hardest situation is where you are trying to implement scrum without management knowing, and more than one team have done this.  To be successful the people involved have to make time to be able to perform the work which they will need to do and you’ll need dedicated people that understand what you are trying to achieve.

New technical practices slowing development

In relation to time this is the last objection where management believe that practices like Test Driven Development, Continuous Integration, Collective Code Ownership let alone Pair Programming, will simply add time to development.

This is the easiest objection to overcome as there have been many studies done in and around these practices showing the advantages and benefits of each and you can lay out what the organisation should expect you to be able to deliver if you are allowed to implement them.

Start by picking the practices you feel most confident with so that you can show tangible benefits of what you are doing which will make the managers feel happier with what you are doing and more likely to allow you to attempt the practices you are less familiar with.

So what's next?

Hopefully when you’ve overcome these objections you will be able to start doing scrum but be prepared as this will then cause more problems and objections to be surfaced but I’ll try and cover those in the next few posts.

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