Critical Scrum Success Factors

Something interesting happened this last week. Ken Schwaber visited Microsoft and several Microsoft groups presented their experiences with Scrum. This event sparked a large interest in Scrum from more teams. Our own team has already been pinged several times this week from folks in different groups asking about where to get more information on Scrum, how we do our reports, and even if they can sit in on a daily Scrum.

While interest in Scrum and new ways of doing things is good, I always get nervous when lots of folks start jumping onto a bandwagon. Folks may be jumping on because they see Scrum as a silver bullet, or because their manager told them to. There's the risk of disillusionment from improper expectations, or even worse, failure stemming from these reasons. So it seems worthwhile to share some critical success factors for our team implementing Scrum. There are two that I want to discuss in this post, but this is by no means a conclusive list.

Train, Train, Train

Training is very important. A team won't be very effective if only 1 or 2 people understand the process. Interestingly, most people on our team have a copy of Agile Project Management with Scrum. We've also shared the ScrumMaster role so that everyone gets a chance to understand that role. Everyone does their best to understand how Scrum works and how to apply it. Plus we are learning every day we follow Scrum and in each Retrospective. I think the better the team understands Scrum, the better your chances of success.

Of course, books aren't the only source of information. If you have the time and money you can attend courses listed at, or

Management Support

Another big success factor for us is that our manager supports our Scrum process. In fact, our manager isn't idle about Scrum. She expects us to keep the backlog up-to-date so she knows status. She expects us to manage our backlog by ourselves and involve her when necessary. She gets us resources we need to keep moving. This is a tremendous help, and I just have to think that if you don't have the support of management, then you will have an uphill battle.

I think it's very important on day 1 to communicate to management why you are implementing Scrum, how they are involved, and what they should expect. Once management buys into Scrum, I think you have a much better chance of succeeding.


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