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Impact of Scrum on Technology Projects

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Impact of Scrum on Technology Projects

July 20, 2018


Abstract

The primary objective of this paper is to examine the impact of the Scrum framework on technology projects. Considering a widespread adoption of Scrum in the current industry, it is important to evaluate the extent to which Scrum has been efficient to meet the customer needs and to gain the market advantage. The research involves conducting a literature review to analyze how the dynamics of Scrum framework impacts the productivity of the large projects. I have utilized resources such as scholarly eBooks, journals from the KSU library, Galileo library, google scholar database and general content websites, case studies from Google. The research revealed that the outstanding challenges to adopt Scrum in large-scale projects is the collaboration of self-organizational teams. The literature review also showcased that there is a significant improvement in the productivity of teams, ROI and product value when Scrum is employed in small, medium as well as large organizations. Companies like Microsoft, Ericsson, Intel, Toyota, Nokia etc. has reported significant benefits with Scrum adoption. “Toyota routinely achieves four times the productivity and 12 times the quality of competitors” (Sutherland, Viktorov, Blount & Pintukov, 2011, p. 93).

              Keywords: Scrum, iterations, Agile Scrum, Agile project management.


Impact of Scrum on Technology Projects

              Scrum framework has proven to be one of the rapidly growing Project Management methodology for managing highly complex projects. Many Organizations are keen to adopt Scrum to produce incremental working products quickly with moderate risks and shorter lead times. Scrum a light weighted, and a less complicated structure is initially designed for small size projects. However, medium and few large-scale organizations have also started implementing Scrum when the new framework has proven to adapt to constant changes and achieve fixed goals with more complex external factors coming into existence daily. Scrum being fairly new and evolving when compared to the traditional project methodologies like Waterfall etc., few large-scale organizations still doubt or fear that Scrum cannot address large or distributed projects. Having said that, there is a compelling need for having a quantitative research or study developed on empirical evidence to prove that the Scrum is beneficial to a project of any size. The need for such researches is particularly high because such a transformation impacts the business heavily due to operational disruptions and the tremendous increase in implementation costs. There are exceptionally few systematic scientific researches conducted and available on large-scale Agile Scrum adoptions. There should be enough statistical data on which the community or the market can rely on and accept Agile Scrum as a powerful and proven practice for all type of industries and projects.

             The demand for having a study available to address the questions like, ‘1. What is the impact of Scrum on large-scale Technology projects’ and ‘2. What factors or challenges affect the Scrum adoptions in large-scale organizations.’ is the motivation behind this study. In this context, large-scale means having a Scrum team of more than 7-9 members which it normally has. The study evaluates the success stories of Scrum adoption in small, medium and large-scale projects and discusses the challenges of implementing Scrum for large-scale projects or by large-scale organizations. The research also aimed at studying the various suggestions and recommendations by scholars in the field to resolve the identified challenges.

Theoretical Background

            This background section describes the Scrum, an agile software development methodology and focuses on challenges in using Scrum for large projects in detail. The systematic literature review identifies the various impacts of Scrum on software development projects. Finally, it explains the need for having a more detailed research and future studies in this field.

Scrum framework.

Scrum is a simple iterative framework formalized in late 1990 facilitates incremental product development with self-organizational and cross-functional teams. It is an iterative, timeboxed, incremental project management method based on a simple “inspect and adapt” framework (Herbsleb & Moitra, 2001). The framework is a combination of a set of rules, roles, events, artifacts and techniques which are often interwoven for delivering high-quality products and services. Scrum in its newer way of managing a project is based on observation and experience than on pure theory or logic. Having said that, Scrum does not have any pre-defined algorithm to be followed at any given time like the traditional project methodologies which rely heavily on fixed algorithms. Scrum teams are often responsible for remodeling their processes according to this framework.

Scrum uses smaller iterations also known as sprints with a fixed time period of either 4 weeks or 2 weeks to produce a shippable working product increment. The work starts with a product backlog which contains the Client requirements collected in the form of prioritized user stories. Scrum teams select the high priority items from the product backlog to be implemented in the coming Sprint and then create a sprint backlog. This happens during the Sprint Planning meeting before every Sprint commences. The goal of the first Sprint should be to "demonstrate any piece of user functionality on the selected technology" (Schwaber and Beedle 2002, p. 59). Sprint backlog and Product backlog are the artifacts in the Scrum framework. During every Sprint, Scrum teams design, develop, test and integrate into the already developed product and the result is a working product increment at the end of each Sprint. The team reviews and demonstrates the developed product increment in a Sprint Review meeting with stakeholders, product owner and Scrum Master. Therefore, the essential components in the Scrum framework are the roles, artifacts and processes. Scrum Master, Scrum teams, and Product owner are the roles whereas Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Sprint retrospective meetings are the processes of Scrum. During every Sprint, a Scrum meeting is held within the Scrum team of 15minute duration daily to discuss the progress, impending challenges preventing the work and the next action plan. In Addition to the three meetings discussed above, there is also a Sprint Retrospective meeting held between Scrum teams, Scrum Master and Product Owner to discuss the challenges faced during the Sprint and improvements needed for the upcoming iteration to make the Sprint more efficient. The idea of a Scrum team is cross-functional, it typically comprises of seven to nine members each having proficiency in either testing, coding, design, database, support, integration, documentation etc. The teams are self-organizing and pick their work by themselves without having a Project Manager to allot the work for the team. A product owner is responsible for handling the requirements and thereby the product backlog. The prioritization and changes or updates to the Product backlog should be done by him. A Scrum Master helps and guides the team to follow and apply the Scrum principles to achieve maximum productivity. He is responsible for encouraging self-organization and management among the team itself. Scrum Master who is often referred to as facilitator helps Scrum teams to achieve tasks and work to their full capacity. Thus, the Sprint framework believes in people and their interaction than the processes or plans. The framework encourages responding to changes than a strict scope, working product over dozens and dozens of documentations. It is an empirical approach to applying the ideas of industrial process control theory to systems development resulting in an approach that reintroduces the ideas of flexibility, adaptability and productivity (Schwaber and Beedle 2002).

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