Scrum is popular and growing. The most recent data shows that 87% of Agile teams use Scrum. But the fact is, while Scrum benefits many teams, it’s not right for every organization.
That’s right, despite what its supporters might say, Scrum is not always the right choice for everyone. That’s why we wrote this article. We want to give you an unbiased look at the five core benefits of Scrum so you can decide whether it might be a good fit for you and your team.
The main benefits of Scrum are:
- Deliver value faster and more often.
- Boost communication, motivation, and productivity.
- Adapt better to changing circumstances.
- Make continuous improvement a reality.
- Strengthen stakeholder relationships.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand what these five benefits can mean for your team and how Scrum can help turn them into a reality. Plus, we include relevant stats, quotes from industry leaders, and potential drawbacks to Scrum so you can decide whether investing in Scrum is the right choice for your organization.
1. Deliver value faster and more often
Delivering value quickly and consistently is what every company wants. By adopting the Scrum framework, organizations find they can accelerate product delivery, ensuring they stay ahead in their competitive markets. There’s a reason why Jeff Sutherland’s original book on Scrum promotes the framework as “the art of doing twice the work in half the time”.
Here are a couple of Scrum features that make it easier for teams to deliver more value faster:
- Breaking work down: You get a faster time to market because you break larger projects into manageable chunks (“sprints“).
- Deliverables: Scrum steers teams towards creating usable deliverables at the end of each sprint.
- Frequent feedback: Incremental product deliveries allow for frequent feedback from users so you can quickly refine your product, prevent or fix problems, and move toward actual customer value.
- Prioritization: The product backlog and Product Owner role ensure continuous prioritization of the features your users are actually looking for – helping you build the most high value thing next.
- Less admin: Scrum’s emphasis on working software over comprehensive documentation ensures teams spend more time creating and less on administrative tasks.
As Seth Besse, CEO of Undivided.io, points out, Scrum has helped his team by making everyone more intentional and focused on a single deliverable:
“By breaking our tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and having daily meetings to keep everyone in the loop, we’ve not only become more efficient but also more flexible. By implementing Scrum, we have an unbeatable advantage in providing exceptional assistance for both parents and caregivers.”
Scrum prioritizes efficiency and incremental value delivery over documentation and large periodic updates. This focus on prioritizing smaller chunks of work and continuous improvement helps teams deliver value to customers faster and more frequently.
2. Boost communication, motivation, and productivity
Scrum helps boost fundamental aspects of collaboration, like communication, motivation, and productivity.
According to the latest State of Agile report, teams practicing Scrum reported improved collaboration (69%), better alignment with business needs (54%), and enhanced work environments (39%).
Scrum is able to help teams work better together because of these key attributes:
- Role clarity: Scrum accountabilities empower individual members to take ownership of their tasks, promoting a more collaborative and motivating environment.
- Meaningful meetings: Scrum defines a set of events that give purpose to each meeting and encourage teams to assess their work and direction frequently.
- Built-in focusers: Timeboxed Sprint Goals (sometimes combined with Work In Progress limits) create rhythm and focus, ensuring teams aren’t spread too thin, leading to higher and better output.
- Continuous coaching: Scrum Masters help teams continuously improve through one-on-one and team coaching.
- Transparency: Scrum events like retrospectives and the daily scrum help people understand team goals and the progress they’ve made on them.
- Ownership: Scrum’s shared ownership for product delivery boosts collaboration and motivation since everyone is equally invested in the project’s success.
According to Gauri Manglik, CEO & co-founder of Instrumentl, implementing Scrum has helped her team work more efficiently because everyone is clear on what success looks like and their role in making it happen:
“In my experience, one of the top benefits of using Scrum is that it forces you to be clear about what you’re doing. If you’re working on a project, and your goal is to ship a feature or a product, you need to make sure that everyone on your team agrees on what it is you’re trying to accomplish.”
Scrum processes create more engaged teams. When everyone knows what they’re doing and has the support they need, work gets done faster by a more motivated team.
3. Adapt to changing circumstances
Scrum helps teams be more nimble and flexible. This agility makes Scrum ideal in environments where change is constant and swift responses are critical to maintain a competitive advantage.
Scrum enables agility by promoting these core tenets across all team members:
- Autonomy: Teams are cross-functional and self-managed. They don’t need approval or resources from another team if they have to course correct.
- Reflection: Sprint planning, sprint review, and retrospective events provide opportunities for feedback and reflection so teams never run in the wrong direction for too long.
- Prioritization: The dynamic prioritization of the product backlog allows the Product Owner to reprioritize work when circumstances change.
- Visibility: Scrum artifacts like the product backlog, sprint backlog, and burndown charts offer transparency, so when changes occur, everyone can provide feedback or suggestions.
By making sure teams excel in these four areas, it becomes possible for Scrum teams to react far more quickly to the needs of their users and clients. As Sydney Cohen, CTO at Axolo, puts it:
“Using Scrum has helped us be more nimble and adapt to our customers’ needs quickly based on their feedback. Incorporating feedback at the end of one sprint and prioritizing new features for the next sprint demonstrates our ability to iterate rapidly.”
Scrum’s structure, centered around autonomy, regular reflection, and transparency, provides teams with the tools and mindset they need to quickly pivot as project demands change. By embracing these principles, teams can keep pace with changes and turn them into opportunities for growth and improvement.
4. Make continuous improvement a reality
In Scrum, improvement is not an aspirational goal but a practical reality that happens through intentional parts of the Scrum process.
Here are a few ways that Scrum makes continuous improvement a primary focus:
- Structured learning: Scrum structures a team’s learning process through regular retrospectives and other feedback loops. In a retrospective, Scrum teams learn how to improve their output by analyzing interactions, processes, tools — anything that could help improve the end product or their process for building it.
- Checkpoints: The focus on delivering increments of shippable functionality ensures there’s tangible output to evaluate, learn from, and improve upon.
- Risk management: Short iterations and retrospectives prevent risks getting out of hand. There’s always a way to address them early in the process.
All of these chances to learn mean that teams implementing Scrum see a steadily improved work quality. According to one study, Scrum implementation resulted in a 250% increase in quality, as measured by defect density.
Scrum’s embrace of regular reflection, guided learning, and frequent delivery instills a culture of continuous improvement in teams. This culture is not just about fixing what’s broken but also about seeking ways to perform better.
5. Strengthen stakeholder relationships
Scrum isn’t just a benefit at the team level – it also strengthens relationships with stakeholders. According to a survey of nearly 2,000 Scrum teams by Christiaan Verwijs, stakeholder satisfaction increased as teams became more agile.
There are many reasons why Scrum helps strengthen stakeholder relationships; here are the most important ones:
- Involvement: Regular deliverables, reviews, and visible backlogs involve stakeholders in the development process, aligning products with customer needs because they can provide input early and often.
- Representation: The Product Owner is a dedicated role within Scrum teams that maintains the customer vision and interacts with both the development team and stakeholders, strengthening the relationship between the two in the process.
- Alignment on “done”: The definition of done – a minimum quality threshold for every task – is always established before work gets started, so there are fewer chances for disappointment or misalignment.
- Sprint Reviews: Scrum’s sprint review event offers stakeholders a chance to demo the working software a team has created during the sprint. This means there is a dedicated meeting once per sprint for stakeholders to take a look at any progress and give feedback.
- Less documentation: While Scrum recognizes contracts, it values collaboration between the development team and stakeholders more. This emphasis on collaboration over negotiation strengthens relationships.
David Godlewski, CEO of Intelliverse, underscores this last point as he has found that less documentation has helped his teams work better:
“Scrum prioritizes working software over extensive documentation. This not only saves resources but also allows our team to focus more on the real work of adapting to changes and customer feedback.”
By promoting regular involvement, clear representation, goal alignment, and collaboration, Scrum ensures that stakeholder relationships continuously strengthen. These relationships are key to delivering a product that not only meets but exceeds expectations, fostering trust and satisfaction on all sides.
Disadvantages of Scrum: Why Scrum doesn’t work sometimes
The last thing you want to do is promote Scrum at work only to find out that it’s not the right fit for your organization. To avoid this waste of time and resources, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of Scrum and the reasons why it sometimes fails to live up to the hype.
- Implementation problems: For teams without experience in Scrum or other Agile methodologies, making the switch to Scrum can be difficult without help from an expert.
- Dependency on team dynamics: Scrum requires strong team collaboration to work, so if team members have interpersonal issues or the company culture is toxic, you’ll likely have issues.
- Company buy-in: If only one team switches to Scrum while others do not, that can create company-wide friction.
- Misuse by managers and other stakeholders: Scrum requires team autonomy to work. If managers or other stakeholders are unable to loosen control, Scrum may not be a good fit and fail.
- Poor fit: Scrum typically works best where constant, incremental improvements are possible and valuable. If your teams are frequently changing or lack common goals, Scrum might not be best for you.
- Burnout: The pace of sprints and strict adherence to the Sprint Goal can lead to burnout, especially if Scrum’s principles and rules aren’t followed.
- Overhead costs: Scrum’s events can create overhead if they’re not managed well (e.g., daily scrum meetings that always go way past their 15-minute limit) or if they’re added on top of traditional meetings a team used to have before implementing Scrum (e.g., a weekly reporting meeting with management).
If even one or two of these points seem to speak to the kind of organization you’re currently working within, then Scrum might not be right for you. However, that doesn’t mean Scrum or Agile is completely off the table. All it means is that your Agile transformation will need to be well planned with these specific issues addressed ahead of time.
Another option is to look outside Scrum altogether. Read through our guide on Agile frameworks to see if another method would better suit your needs.
Scrum reflective checklist
Still not sure whether Scrum is right for you? Making the leap to Agile and Scrum isn’t something to be done lightly. If you’re still not sold on the benefits of Scrum or worry about how well it’ll suit your team and organization, try filling out our reflective checklist.
This resource walks you through everything you need to have in place to migrate your teams to a Scrum environment. This way, even if you decide Scrum isn’t right for you at this moment, you’ll know what you’ll need to work on so that Scrum can one day become the way you and your organization build better products.
You should aim to have most, if not all, of these items checked off before you begin your transition.
Education and buy-in
- Educate the entire team on what Scrum is and how it works by having them read this Scrum 101 Guide.
- Hold a workshop with an agile coach where you work through any questions, concerns, etc., about Scrum to get everyone’s buy-in before moving ahead.
- Have a qualified Scrum Master support the team as they get started.
- Have relevant managers and stakeholders read this guide to Agile transformation so they understand the processes and benefits of Scrum.
Experimentation and adaptation
- Choose a small sample of teams to start with Scrum first so you can learn from them.
- Determine which KPIs you will track to measure success for your implementation of Scrum.
- Map outcomes/deliverables/goals of traditional meetings to Scrum’s events so managers and stakeholders feel comfortable letting go of the old structure, as they can see how you’ll still achieve the desired outcomes.
Infrastructure and environment
- Reorganize into Scrum teams so that each team is cross-functional (self-sufficient) and of the right size (usually includes ten or fewer people).
- Work with teams to develop a roadmap to full Scrum implementation.
- Equip teams with collaboration tools that facilitate Scrum practices. For example, Parabol can help teams run better retrospectives.
- Translate traditional JDs to Scrum accountabilities within each team.
Get the most out of Scrum with Parabol
Imagine there was one tool that could help you run your Scrum events efficiently, with minimal setup, and maximum team engagement. That’s Parabol. It’s free to use and helps you run better sprint planning, sprint retrospective, and daily scrum meetings with your team. You can even use it to run fun icebreaker sessions and check in on your team health.
It might just be the easiest way to get started trying out Scrum with your team!