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10 Scrum benefits and how to realize them

Scrum can be difficult to implement and manage, but the effort is usually rewarded. When run correctly, Scrum delivers valuable benefits for the business and the development team.

It's not always easy to organize development efforts around the Scrum framework, but a team that adheres to the key principles and operates effectively should expect to achieve numerous benefits.

To realize Scrum's benefits, Scrum team members should perform each Scrum team role properly and ensure that their teams have an efficient structure.

When a team's Scrum structure is weak, it likely will fail to properly create or prioritize a backlog, and stakeholders will be more inclined to change the sprint backlog within a sprint. These missteps will result in poor increment success, less stability in the product increment and a disjointed team.

Here are 10 Scrum benefits that make the framework worthwhile and some tips on how to achieve each benefit.

1. Clearly defined sprint goals

Every sprint interval has a clearly defined set of goals that the Scrum team establishes during the sprint planning meeting. It is essential to both set these goals and to make them realistic. To craft realistic goals, a team should weigh both the team's capacity for each particular sprint and the amount of work the team hopes to accomplish. The Scrum team maps onto the sprint the backlog items that comprise these goals and then, based on item sizing, determines how well that fits with the team capacity. If the load exceeds capacity, the team should reassess the goals and refine the backlog.

2. Flexibility to allow quick product changes

A key benefit to Scrum is flexibility -- i.e., the capability to quickly adapt to changes in product definition and to deliver to those changes within a few iterations. To enable this adaption, the Scrum team creates or modifies backlog items to align with the needed product changes. The team then grooms -- or re-grooms -- these items to ensure scope, clarity and sizing. Effective Scrum teams hold weekly product backlog meetings, which provide the mechanism for continual review, restructure and prioritization of product backlog items. Up until the time the Scrum team moves these items into the sprint, the team has an opportunity to adjust. Don't make changes, however, during the sprint itself. This rule is one reason why organizations generally prefer sprints that last one or two weeks over ones that last three or four weeks.

3. Tested, stable products

Testing and version control are essential elements of any software development process. Effective testing helps to eliminate product bugs through early detection and to resolve issues through versioning. The earlier this testing starts, the easier it is to find and rectify problems. Each sprint unit needs test coverage metrics. The Scrum team identifies the tools for test coverage and sets the acceptable metrics. Beyond unit testing coverage, the Scrum team performs product feature testing to validate story success criteria. While unit testing is a developer function, other Scrum team members can support feature testing, including the Scrum master and product owner. Engaging the entire Scrum team helps to produce the most stable product.

4. Productive Scrum meetings

Scrum defines four key time-boxed ceremonies (meetings) that a Scrum team should hold to ensure effective communication. Those meetings are: sprint planning, daily standup, sprint review and the sprint retrospective. While the daily standup requires participation from only the developers, include the product owner and Scrum master for the sprint planning and retrospective. Additionally, invite stakeholders to sprint review sessions. It's wise to maintain participation and time boxing rules for these events.

5. Timely Scrum feedback loops

Feedback is critical to product success and delivery. Early feedback is imbedded into the Scrum framework in multiple ways. Developers provide daily feedback to the team on any complications or blockers they have encountered. At a retrospective, the overall team will share successes along with lessons learned to modify and improve the process moving into the next sprint.

6. On-time delivery

To deliver software on time in Scrum, execute the elements of Scrum, which build upon each other. Stable, well-defined sprints ensure quality and predicable increments. Communication and feedback within the sprint allow participants to identify issues and to collaborate internally and externally. This enables you to resolve blocked work and or realign the backlog for the subsequent sprint.

7. Team cohesiveness

People naturally prefer to work on teams that communicate effectively, solve problems and meet deadlines. Scrum is designed to achieve this with minimum overhead. For developers, overhead in Scrum is time taken away from writing and testing code. Meetings are generally the least enjoyable element of a developer's day. Ensuring the time-box is held to during events forces effective communications and fosters a positive, trusting environment in which developers understand that their time is valued.

8. Developer growth

A key Scrum benefit is that it enables a team to hold a periodic hacking sprint. This is when developers team up or work individually on a piece of code that is related to the overall product but that isn't directly tied to a product feature. This sprint allows the team to brainstorm and implement new concepts, learn code or test techniques. At times, the work done in these hacking sprints can produce new product features that the team later integrates into the product.

9. Reduced risk

A natural consequence of any Agile framework -- especially Scrum -- is the reduction of risk. Scrum provides the opportunity to recognize and mitigate risk early in the process through cross-functional teams, sustainable and predictable delivery pace, continuous feedback and good practices.

10. Higher ROI

The ultimate benefit of Scrum is the high return on investment. Successful Scrum practices help the business realize rapid delivery with an adaptable delivery team that minimizes wasted effort.

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