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The pitfalls of waterscrumming

In software, building the thing right is easy… identifying the right thing to build isn’t!

“The pitfalls of waterscrumming”, by Charles Bronzwaer.

This blog has been on my mind for a while now, as I continue to marvel at the effect that a project approach has on the success of a project. Why do we see very capable teams perform much worse than anticipated?

In recent years, we at Bizzomate have seen many companies try to adopt an agile project approach to replace the more traditional waterfall approach. As you probably know, the waterfall approach tries to simplify the complex software development process with significant documentation beforehand. This waterfall approach works if you specifically know your needs before starting. Any specification changes will be treated as irregularities and are not natively part of the approach. Nevertheless, even with a waterfall approach, you will be able to adapt to changes.

With an agile strategy, you accept that you do not know everything. However, this sacrifices costs. You do not accurately know what your investment will be to achieve your success criteria.

Uncertainty makes managers go no-no

Most traditional managers avoid uncertainty because they want assurance of receiving a guaranteed investment return. This reasoning is flawed. Would you prefer an approach that gives you false hope of fixed investment and results or a method that is more flexible and focused on delivering essential business value quickly? This is a crucial choice you need to make to succeed in executing agile projects.

Agile requires whatever it takes

I regularly see companies doing agile. You cannot do agile—you have to embrace it. You have to accept uncertainty. You have to focus on business value. Most importantly, you have to do whatever it takes, or it fails. My firm conviction is that it is much better to follow either an agile or a waterfall method than to mix and match from both and come up with your own approach to suit your internal politics. This sort of freewheeling is often called ‘Waterscrumming’.

Waterscrumming happens when organisations search for a false sense of control. Symptoms are;

  • The team is usually running some, but not all of the Scrum ceremonies
  • The Product Owner does not have the full mandate to decide and acts more like a classic project manager
  • The Scrum team is not allowed to independently solve problems, which will make your best people to look for other opportunities
  • There is no (dedicated) Scrum Master
  • Instead of quickly releasing in short cycles, the project stays in development way too long;
  • There is a disconnect between the Scrum team and the business stake holders

Overcome the challenge, become agile

Trying to change an organisation into believing, thinking and acting agile is a big challenge. Still, I believe this is a challenge you have to overcome to survive. The status quo is strong, and people don’t want to change by nature, that requires discipline and determination. If you have the discipline to follow your approach, and if you hire an excellent agile coach/Scrum Master, you will see the benefits very soon.

 

We are software “architects, analysts, techies and designers” and throughout the years we’ve created a pragmatic and creative approach to identify the right problems to solve before you start with the development of the bits and bytes. No long research studies, no thick reports but 4 clear steps to success.

Are you solving the right problems, or are you making software that nobody asked for??

Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Charles Bronzwaer – Factory Leader @ Bizzomate

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