Scrum — 17 things that need to be in place to succeed. And then one more!

List of items vital for Scrum

Scrum is the most popular Software Development framework in the world. It is also the most misunderstood framework. Many people say they use Scrum, but they are in fact missing out on very important factors of Scrum. As a result Scrum doesn’t work for them.

Sjoerd Nijland and I have written many articles within Serious Scrum on why Scrum might not work for you, what you may be doing wrong. This article turns it around. It will help you to understand what needs to be in place have the best prerequisites to succeed.

Empirical process control is in place: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

This is key if your Scrum journey is to succeed. Scrum is founded on empiricism.

“Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known.” — SG

Without this foundation Scrum can’t exist!

The Scrum team embraces the Scrum Values

The values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect need to be adhered to by all the team members.

The Product Owner is the only one responsible for managing the Product Backlog

The Development Team may be allowed to add, update and remove items from the Product Backlog, but the Product Owner remains accountable.

The entire organization respects the decisions of the Product Owner, who is one person and not a committee

As an example: it can’t be that a manager pushes an item on the Product Backlog without the approval of the Product Owner.

The Development Team is self-organizing

The Development Team is enabled to self-determine how they are going to create a potentially releasable “Done” increment.

The Development Team is cross-functional

All the skills required to create a potentially releasable “Done” increment are within the team.

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team

The Scrum Master doesn’t tell the Development Team what to do. Instead the Scum Master coaches the Development to in self-organization and cross-functionality.

The Scrum Master is enabled to lead and coach the organization in its Scrum adoption

The Scrum Master should be empowered to help the organization advance so that Scrum can be adopted properly. It is vital that the organization is transparent on what works and what does not for the Scrum Team, inspects and then adapts if needed.

The Development Team delivers a “Done“ and potentially releasable product Increment every Sprint

The foundation of Scrum is empiricism. This is why it is important to have a “Done” increment to inspect. This result into adaptations, a.o. of the Product Backlog.

Working software is the primary measure of progress. — Principle of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Sprint Events are time-boxed

It is very important to have the Sprint Events time-boxed as it will result into focus.

The Sprint always has all the Events (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective)

All the events are vital within Scrum as they in their way contribute to the empiricism of Scrum.

Every Sprint has a Sprint Goal

Without a Sprint goal there is no transparency why you work on certain items, which invalidates your options to inspect and adapt.

The Development Team has and sticks to a Definition of Done

The Definition of Done includes all criteria that mark an item as ready for release. This includes topics like quality criteria and compliance criteria.

Only one Product Backlog exists per Product

It is the single source of requirements for any changes to the product. If there would be more sources then transparency goes out of the window.

A Sprint Backlog is the Product Backlog Items selected for the Sprint and a plan to make them into a “Done” increment

To allow the Development Team to progress it is not sufficient to only have a list of items to work on. There should also be a plan how to get this “Done”.

The Scrum artifacts Sprint Backlog, Product Backlog and Increment are transparent. Same for the Definition of Done.

Scrum exists only with complete transparency. Decisions are made on the perceived state of the Product. As a result the artifacts needs to be transparent as well. This is also the case for the Definition of Done.

Willingness to use the Scrum Guide as a reference regularly

In order to properly adopt Scrum you should be willing to read (portions of) the Scrum Guide regularly. When in doubt: read the Scrum Guide instead of making assumptions. When you wonder why a certain event exists or why a certain role is defined: the Scrum Guide has the answers.

Empirical process control is in place: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Yes I mentioned this twice. It is so pivotal for a successful Scrum adoption it deserves an extra mention!

Did you like the article? Then it would be awesome if you’d clap 👏🏻. I am also very keen to learn what you think about this topic.


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Thank you for taking your time to read seriously.

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Thanks Jamie Collins for the improvement suggestions to make the story more clear and consistent!