7 tips to know when to use Scrum in your project

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Is Scrum a part of your workflow? Learn when to use Scrum here and how to use it wisely in your software development projects.

All of us in the world of software development know that Scrum is the leading Agile methodology used by companies worldwide. Moreover, even though its advantages are well known (agility, quick feedback, better communication, flexibility, etc.), we might sometimes face the uncertainty of whether to use this framework or follow a traditional way for the development.

If it is well used, Scrum is a framework that can have a transforming power, but are we really sure when to use Scrum in our projects and how to ensure we get the most out of it?

Based on our experience, the following 7 aspects should be considered to determine when it is convenient to use Scrum in your software development project.

1. When requirements are not clearly defined

Many times, a client has a general idea of the product to develop, but he does not have clear or well defined details of how it must be. Not having a clear definition of the requirements has several consequences.

One of them is that it is practically impossible to make an estimation of the time and costs that would allow us to approach the project as a Fixed Price. Secondly, if the requirements are not defined, it is expected that, there will be a large number of changes during the development, which would make the use of a more traditional methodology more difficult.

This is when the use of Scrum is inevitable and more than convenient because of its flexible and adaptable nature throughout the entire process.

2. When the probability of changes during the development is high

While in software development, the changes of requirements can be a kind of common currency with specific processes for managing them. There are times when, despite the fact that the requirements are correctly defined, adaptations are likely to arise as the project progresses. This situation can occur in projects where, for example, there are technological changes or in the business context.

As I mentioned in the first point, using Scrum in these cases is recommended, given the flexibility this methodology offers to adjust more easily to changes and new requirements.

3. When there is a need to test the solution

This point is very related to the previous ones. In the construction of a new product, an MVP (minimum viable product) can be required in order to test certain characteristics in the market that you may want to verify, and that allows it to be iterated with the results obtained from that test.

As a result of this process, some changes are generated that have an impact on what has already been developed, or new ideas and features to be developed are generated.

Thanks to the use of Scrum, feedback is obtained early to correct what is necessary in the MVP and to guarantee that the final product is as expected. Introducing changes in the late stages of the development will always generate higher costs and possible delays in the delivery of the product.

4. When the Product Owner (PO) is fully available

The participation, dedication, and total availability of the PO in the project is a fundamental pillar for the correct use of Scrum.

The PO is the owner of the backlog, so it is he or she who prioritizes the User Stories and helps the team to refine the definitions.

If a client does not have a PO available for the project, it is very difficult for the implementation of this methodology to be successful.

5. When the team has self-management skills

Agile working teams require that their members have a certain level of seniority, because while there is the figure of the Scrum Master, the project requires a lot of self-management and collaboration. If the development team is very inexperienced, the correct implementation of these types of methodologies may become more complex.

Another important aspect of the team is its size. It is estimated that in order to obtain the greatest benefit, Scrum teams must be composed of between 5 and 9 people. In case the project requires a larger number of professionals, work cells can be configured, where each cell works in a different aspect of the development. There are different methods of Scrum scaling, for example, we use Scrum of Scrums.

6. When contracting is Time and Materials

It is necessary that the type of contract made with the client follows this methodology.

Even though some Scrum practices can be applied to Fixed Price projects, the bottom line is that a certain scope is always being managed (adding things at the expense of eliminating others).

When the agreement between the parties is defined under an open scope (Time and Materials) contract, the best alternative is to use Scrum so that all the necessary changes can be made throughout the development.

7. When the client’s culture is open to innovation and adapts to change

Finally, it is important to understand whether or not the client has experience with Scrum projects and if they are open to using this type of methodology.

It is very common that one of the biggest concerns is how much it costs and how long it will take to develop the product. Even though Agile methodologies such as Scrum make it possible to have a plan, a north, this is very difficult to determine in advance given the very nature of this methodology that accepts change at all times.

In order to counteract this, it is essential that trust is established between both parties so that the client feels that the team is doing its best to achieve the objectives.

We cannot forget that there are tools and processes that allow us to show the progress and performance of the team, which in short, help to build that trust.

To sum up

Sometimes it can be difficult to define when to use Scrum in your software projects, because there are many ways to approach it. One thing is clear to me: Scrum is an Agile framework that fits perfectly into complex projects where there is a high level of requirements and a very broad scope in the future, where the client’s culture is open to change, and where contexts and needs may vary from one moment to another, among many others.

Scrum is a brilliant framework that must be well implemented in order to see its great results. If you are uncertain whether to use it or not in your development, do not forget the principles I have showed you!