Scrum in the world of agile


According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession Report from 2018, only 47% of projects used predictive/traditional approaches. At that time, almost half of all projects were agile in nature. To date, their share has increased significantly. Half of this is “purely agile”, i.e. mostly Scrum, and the other half is hybrid agility. Most companies see agility as essential to remaining competitive (71%).

This means that learning Scrum was a good investment since you will probably need these skills in every other project you undertake professionally. If we take a look at the main reasons for project failure, it becomes clear that Agile will become more and more important.

Here are the top reasons projects fail, according to PMI’s pulse of the profession:

  • Change in organisations priorities – 39%
  • Change in project goals – 37%
  • Inaccurate requirements gathering – 35%

In fourth place with 29%, the following points are tied,       

  • Inadequate vision or goal setting
  • Poor communication
  • Opportunities and risks have not been defined

When you consider these aspects, how do they fit into the Agile Manifest? How do they match the benefits we’ve discussed in previous articles about how Scrum works?

The reality is that Agile directly addresses the key challenges facing projects today: goals, requirements, and communication.

The State of Agile Report from Version One/ shows that most projects are using Scrum and that Agile continues to grow:

  • 56% use “pure” Scrum
  • 75% use Scrum, Scrumban, Scum/XP or Kanban methods

The reason behind this is that Scrum is simple, works and is suitable for small teams. But as we have already established, there is no larger “organization” in the Scrum model. So, what about the scope? How do these organizations using Scrum scale their agile approaches?

According to the Version One/ survey, there are four main types of scaling methods in use today:

  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFE) – 29%
  • Scrum of Scrums – 19%
  • Internally developed methods – 10%
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) – 5%
  • Large Scale Scrum (LESS) – 5%

Often, we see that internally created methods look more like hybrid methods. In the next sections we will examine SAFE, DAD and LESS. They all have the following points in common:

  • Everyone uses Scrum as a basic model for managing teams
  • All have product owners, scrum masters and development teams
  • All differ in how to manage “support teams” and how to make an organization agile

The easiest way to understand Agile at scale is to look at the two methods originally used to scale Agile:

  • Scrum of Scrums – Teams coordinate their work by sending representatives to daily stand ups across all teams.
  • Hybrid methodology – Teams are coordinated using predictive or traditional controls such as: B. Stage gates can be used to control delivery.

Scrum of Scrums:

Scrum of Scrums Stand Ups: The teams send a representative, usually this is a Product Owner or Scrum Master

  • Can literally take the same amount of time as a standard daily stand up
  • Focuses on highlighting completions and blockers
  • Opportunity to identify coordination needs among team members


Scrum of Scrums have a Scrum Master

  • Usually a senior person in the organization
  • Responsible for coordinating work
  • Responsible for the overall productivity of the Scrum of Scrum Team


Scrum of Scrums applies when two teams have potential dependencies

  • Shared resources (employees, services, etc.)
  • Joint product in development

Shared goal or vision

This was originally proposed by Jeff Sutherland, one of the founders of Scrum and signatory of the Agile Manifesto in 2001

  • “Agile Can Scale: Inventing and Reinventing SCRUM in Five Companies” – Jeff Sutherland, Cutter IT Journal, 2001
  • Reports on the use of Scrum of Scrums at IDX, where weekly product line scrums and monthly management scrums took place.
  • Some teams became “hyper-productive,” a state of Scrum teams that Jeff Sutherland talks about being 4 to 5 times more productive


Scrum of Scrums provides a very simple yet elegant way to scale Scrum. In fact, this practice has been used by many very large organizations to achieve organizational agility.

The HBR article Agile at Scale (2018) provides examples of Scrum of Scrums involving hundreds of people in under an hour:

  • Saab’s aviation division has over 100 agile teams for its Gripen fighter jet ($43 million project)
  • Daily stand ups take place from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  • At the end of the stand ups, which are carried out using the Scrum method, the leadership team knows the critical points that they need to address.
  • That’s over 500 people speaking out through word of mouth in less than 90 minutes.

This model is currently experiencing a resurgence among many Agile practitioners. Especially because many organizations are expanding their understanding of Agile and using hybrid methodologies or SAFE to develop into an Agile organization.

The Hybrid Model

The hybrid model most commonly used by organizations is quite simple:

Traditional means are used to control key decision points.

  • Stage gates are primarily used for requirements, design, and operation (deployment).
  • This provides the opportunity for traditional/predictive leadership to approve the next “stage” of the project

Agile (Scrum) methods are used to develop products quickly and iteratively in every phase.

  • Entire teams are deployed to develop requirements, designs, development and verification.
  • Entire teams are able to create prototypes and reusable documents.
  • Requirements are managed as user stories.
  • Stories are generated in requirements, refined in design, implemented in development and completed.
  • Development is often iterative and incremental to enable speed and learning.
  • Development may involve multiple releases in a “staging” or “pilot” environment.
  • System level requirements are verified using use cases.


This looks like iterations between stage gates and is often more successful in organizations that resist Agile. Since organizational resistance to Agile and a misunderstanding of Agile are the main reasons Agile fails (according to Version One/, this makes sense for many newbies learning Agile for the first time.

If we look at the main reasons for Agile failure, we see the following:

  • Organizational culture contradicts agile values – 53%
  • General organizational resistance to change – 46%
  • Insufficient support from management – 42%
  • Lack of skills or experience with agile methods – 41%

These statistics show why the hybrid model is so popular with about half of Agile practitioners in more traditional organizations. For this reason, “Internal Agile” is a great means of proving the effectiveness of the method when there is no support from upper management. However, the only way to truly achieve Agile is with leadership support and good Agile training.

So how can we convince the leaders who don’t believe in Agile? Show them the data:

Reasons for adopting Agile:

  • Acceleration of software development – 75%
  • Manage changing priorities – 64%
  • Increased productivity – 55%
  • Better alignment between business and IT – 49%
  • Increased software quality – 46%


Benefits of adopting Agile (percentages indicate number, not impact)

  • Better management of priorities – 71%
  • Project transparency – 66%
  • Alignment of business and IT – 65%
  • Delivery speed / time to market – 62%
  • Team productivity – 61%

When it comes to impact, the benefits can be four to five times the productivity and value, as the 2013 Ambysoft survey shows.

One scaling framework that was deliberately left out is Nexus. This offers another easy way to scale in Scrum, which experience shows seems to be a hidden champion. This will therefore be discussed in a separate article.

Now that you perhaps understand Scrum a little better in the world of Agile, you can try to answer a few questions:

  1. Which framework will you choose?
  2. How will you achieve the benefits (speed and innovation)?
  3. How will you manage change (leadership and control)?

In answering question 1, some of the following articles will be helpful.


VOQUZ - Masterclass

VOQUZ offers training in the IT sector under the label VOQUZ Masterclass. The training offer and concept is based on years of project experience of our coaches on site with our customers.

  • Scrum Masters
  • Product Owner

5 days – high practical content – Scrum outside of IT – certification exam

Pulse of the Profession 2018, Project Management Institute

Agile At Scale, DarrellK Rigby, Jeff Sutherland, and Andy Noble, Harvard Business Review

Scrum of Scrums, Agile Alliance

Agile Can Scale: Inventing and Reinventing Scrum in Five Companies, Jeff Sutherland, Cutter IT Journal

#scrum #agile #agiletransformation #agilecoaching #scrumtraining

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