Tug-of-War: Balancing Out Scrum and Fixed-Price Contracts

Finding Common Ground: Scrum and Fixed-Price Contracts Unpacked

Navigating the waters of fixed-price contracts in an Agile environment is much like a ship sailing through a storm—exhilarating yet fraught with peril. Fixed-price contracts present a host of challenges that seem at odds with the Agile philosophy inherent to Scrum. It forces a square peg into a round hole, demanding predictability and rigid planning in a framework that champions adaptability and fluidity.

The good news? It’s possible to reconcile the two, but doing so requires ingenuity, strategy, and a firm understanding of the methodology’s core tenets. This article will delve into the labyrinth of managing fixed-price Scrum projects and offer strategies for steering through it successfully.

The Paradox of Fixed-Price and Agility

The very essence of Scrum—its lifeblood—is adaptability. It thrives on empiricism, where decisions are made based on what is known, allowing for change and growth as the project evolves. Fixed-price contracts, conversely, seem to undermine this approach from the get-go. They demand a predefined scope, timeline, and budget, locking in expectations and leaving little room for maneuverability. This constraint goes against the Scrum values of openness, courage, and responsiveness, creating a paradox that can be a quagmire for the uninformed.

The difficulty lies in reconciling two conflicting philosophies. On the one hand, this methodology argues for a customer-centric approach, where features can be added, changed, or dropped as the customer’s needs evolve. On the other hand, fixed-price contracts demand that you deliver what was promised, no matter what changes come down the pipeline. This creates a tug-of-war between adhering to a rigid contract and maintaining the flexibility that allows Scrum teams to deliver the most value.

Additionally, the pressure to meet fixed deadlines and budgets can compromise the quality of the product. Teams might find themselves cutting corners or sacrificing best practices in the race to meet contractual obligations. This not only risks the product’s quality but also jeopardizes the team’s integrity and the trust built with the client.

However, all is not lost. Fixed-price contracts don’t have to be the Achilles’ heel of Agile projects. The trick lies in creating a harmonious balance that respects the contract’s limitations while allowing teams to operate within their Agile philosophy.

Risk Mitigation Strategies

The challenges of managing fixed-price Scrum projects are formidable but not insurmountable. To navigate these waters successfully, it’s crucial to employ a variety of risk mitigation tactics.

  1. Adaptive Scope Management

One of the most effective strategies is adaptive scope management. By prioritizing features based on their value to the customer and their fit within the fixed budget, you create a flexible scope that can be adjusted as the project progresses. This enables the Scrum team to deliver the most valuable features first while keeping an eye on the budget. Adaptive scope management is akin to the MoSCoW method used in traditional project management, where features are categorized into “Must-haves,” “Should-haves,” “Could-haves,” and “Won’t-haves.”

  1. Client Collaboration

Transparency and client collaboration go hand-in-hand. The more transparent you are about what can be achieved within the given constraints, the easier it becomes to manage client expectations. This enables a consultative relationship where both parties are invested in finding the best solutions within the contractual limitations.

  1. Early and Continuous Delivery

Finally, the principle of early and continuous delivery allows for quick feedback loops. Leveraging early releases can act as a ‘litmus test’ for the project, offering a reality check and an opportunity for course correction before it’s too late.

By employing these practices, teams can navigate the complex interplay between the rigidity of fixed-price contracts and the fluidity of Agile methodologies. The key is to find a balance that respects both the constraints of the contract and the flexible nature of this framework.

  1. Communication as the Keystone

In the nuanced ecosystem of fixed-price Scrum projects, effective communication serves as the keystone for success. It’s not just about keeping the team and stakeholders on the same page; it’s about building a symbiotic relationship where transparency, trust, and collaborative problem-solving thrive. Tailoring key Scrum ceremonies for this context can make a world of difference.

For example, during Sprint Planning, be explicit about what may realistically be accomplished within the fixed parameters. Daily Standups can focus on risk alleviation and flagging any scope creep. Sprint Reviews might serve as a platform for stakeholder feedback, reinforcing trust and setting the stage for adaptive changes. In essence, good communication transforms potential stumbling blocks into stepping stones, guiding the project towards successful completion.


Navigating the waters of fixed-price contracts while adhering to Scrum may seem like trying to sail in two directions at once. But as challenging as it may appear, remember that both this project management framework and contractual obligations are means to an end: delivering value. The tension between them isn’t a deadlock; it’s an opportunity for innovation, for redefining what’s possible.

You have the tools and strategies at your disposal—adaptive scope management, risk mitigation, and above all, impeccable communication. So, face the complexity with courage, creativity, and a touch of strategic ingenuity. Turn that complexity into a symphony of well-coordinated moves that bring forth the best of both worlds. In doing so, you’re not just delivering a project—you’re championing a new way to approach challenges, setting a precedent for what Agile can truly achieve.

Mastering the Balance: Best Practices to Prevent Burnout in Scrum

Beyond the Sprint: Addressing Burnout in Scrum Frameworks

Sprint cycles have become a cornerstone of the Agile methodology, promising deliverables within short, focused periods. While effective, there are instances when these cycles become unduly relentless, posing challenges to team members’ mental health. This article delves into the possible repercussions of this relentlessness and underscores the significance of mental well-being in Agile teams.

Sprint Cycles: A Constant Race Against Time

Sprints, characterized by their brief bursts of intense work with precise objectives, can sometimes shift from energizing to draining. Several factors can accentuate this shift:

  1. Tight Deadlines: While sprints inherently have deadlines, unrealistic timelines can heighten stress.
  2. Scope Creep: Adjusting to additional requirements in the midst of a sprint can disrupt workflow.
  3. Insufficient Resources or Changing Requirements: Last-minute alterations or inadequate resources can amplify pressure.

The Link between Sprint Pressure and Burnout in Scrum

Burnout, as defined by the WHO is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. It’s characterized by feelings of energy depletion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. Relentless sprint cycles can precipitate burnout through:

  1. Prolonged Stress and Overwork: Continuously pushing limits without reprieve.
  2. Lack of Recovery Time: Back-to-back sprints with no downtime can be detrimental.
  3. Emotional Toll: The pressure to continuously deliver can strain mental resilience.

Recent studies underscore the connection between Agile practices and mental health, indicating a clear correlation between non-stop sprints and heightened stress levels.

Prioritizing Mental Well-being in Agile Teams

The health of an Agile team is not merely defined by its output but by the well-being of its members. There are tangible ways to support a positive mental state:

  1. Regular Check-ins: Facilitate open dialogues about workloads, allowing team members to voice concerns.
  2. Downtime: It’s essential to incorporate breaks between sprints for recuperation.
  3. Mental Health Resources: Offering workshops, counseling, or even creating an open resource-sharing platform can make a difference and mitigate burnout in Scrum.
  4. Encouraging Openness: A culture where team members freely discuss concerns without judgment is crucial.

The role of Scrum Masters and Agile coaches in this is paramount. Their leadership has a great impact in setting the tone for a team’s mental well-being environment.

Closing Words

Addressing burnout in Scrum isn’t merely about adapting processes; it’s about redefining the whole project management framework. When we recognize and prioritize the well-being of our colleagues, we don’t just prevent stress overload; we transform Scrum teams into spaces of unparalleled creativity, support, and growth. Embracing a holistic approach ensures that our Agile surroundings are not only efficient but also nurturing and resilient against the challenges of workplace fatigue.

From Sceptics to Advocates: How to Win Over Non-Agile Stakeholders

How To Convince and Engage Non-Agile Stakeholders Efficiently

Working in an Agile framework often feels like driving a high-speed train—everything is coordinated, quick, and efficient. But what happens when non-Agile stakeholders aren’t on board this fast-moving train? Whether it’s because they are unfamiliar with the best practices or skeptical of the framework’s benefits, these individuals can create friction that hinders progress. The key to overcoming this challenge lies in effective communication and tailored strategies.

Understand Their Concerns: The First Step to Engaging Non-Agile Stakeholders

Understanding the concerns of stakeholders in Agile projects is the linchpin for building a harmonious relationship. If we consider that the methodology is built around empathy for the customer, it’s not a stretch to extend this empathy towards stakeholders as well. Dive deep to discover why they might be skeptical of Agile approaches. Is it a lack of understanding, or perhaps past experiences have made them cautious?

Sometimes stakeholders’ concerns are based on misconceptions or a lack of information. In other cases, their reservations may arise from specific business requirements that seem at odds with Agile practices. A detailed understanding of their concerns not only enhances your communication strategy but also helps you tailor your arguments to effectively advocate for such methodologies.

Building Bridges Between Non-Agile Stakeholders and Traditional Models

When dealing with non-Agile stakeholders who come from more traditional backgrounds, it’s crucial to “translate” the framework’s principles into terminology they are familiar with. Using industry-specific jargon or diving too deeply into the lexicon may widen the communication gap. Consider using simple analogies or real-world examples to demystify Agile practices. For example, equate the iterative approach of sprints to “trial runs” in product development or liken user stories to “customer needs.” Making these translations will not only clarify the methodology but also make stakeholders more comfortable and willing to engage.

A Hands-on Approach for Integrating Stakeholders in Agile

In Agile frameworks, showing often has a more profound impact than just telling. Once you’ve understood their concerns and communicated the principles in a language they comprehend, the next logical step is to involve non-Agile stakeholders in processes. Invite them to key ceremonies like Reviews or Sprint Planning Meetings. Let them see firsthand how the team prioritizes tasks, adapts to change, and delivers incrementally. Providing a window into how this world works allows stakeholders to personally experience its benefits, often turning skeptics into advocates.


Successfully navigating the landscape of non-Agile stakeholders is more than just a skill; it’s an art that enriches your professional journey. By remaining open, flexible, and patient, you not only help them understand all crucial principles but also build a more inclusive environment. So, keep engaging, keep translating, and keep involving. The rewards, both professional and personal, will be well worth the effort.

Dysfunctional Daily Scrum? Here’s How to Get Teammates Talking

Silent No More: Reclaiming Your Dysfunctional Daily Scrum

We’ve all been there: the daily stand-up that’s awkwardly one-sided, where the conversation flows like molasses and the silence becomes palpable. If you’ve faced this scenario, then you’ve encountered a dysfunctional Daily Scrum. Silence from team members is more than just an uncomfortable pause; it’s a symptom of deeper issues within your Agile team.

Below we will explore why some teammates might stay quiet during this essential ceremony and provide you with actionable strategies to engage them effectively.

The Silent Culprits Behind a Dysfunctional Daily Scrum

Silence in any meeting is often symptomatic of deeper underlying issues. To get to the heart of a dysfunctional Daily Scrum, you must first identify these root causes. One common culprit is a lack of clarity. When team members aren’t sure about their roles, tasks, or even the Scrum process, they naturally hesitate to speak up. This lack of clarity contributes to the ineffective atmosphere.

Another reason is the fear of judgment. In teams where a culture of blame or competitiveness prevails, members often hesitate to voice their opinions, leading to a stunted Daily Scrum. Lastly, let’s not overlook disengagement, a silent killer of productivity and communication. When teammates aren’t invested in the project, they are less likely to contribute meaningfully to the discussion, exacerbating the dysfunction.

By understanding these factors, you can tackle the issue head-on and make your stand-up gatherings more effective and engaging.

The Impact of Silence on the Daily Scrum

When mumming up prevails in your meetups, the ramifications go beyond mere awkwardness. The immediate consequence is impaired team communication. If your colleagues aren’t sharing information freely, it becomes challenging to identify blockers and effectively coordinate efforts. This leads to slowed progress, as unidentified issues fester and become larger problems down the line.

Lastly, dysfunctional Daily Scrums have the power to deteriorate morale and cohesion. Team members may begin to feel disconnected or undervalued, which saps the energy and enthusiasm that are vital in an Agile framework. Silence, therefore, not only hampers the effectiveness of your Scrum events but also poses a threat to the team’s overall performance and well-being.

Avoid Dysfunctional Daily Scrum by Engaging Team Members

Turning around a dysfunctional Daily Scrum involves proactive engagement. Start with targeted questioning aimed at quiet members, such as, “Can you give us an update on X?” or “Do you foresee any blockers?” This invites input without putting them on the spot. Creating an empowering environment is also key; make it clear that all opinions are valued, and mistakes are part of the learning process.

Finally, leverage the Retrospective to discuss the issue of silence openly. You can suggest adjustments to the Daily Scrum format or timing to suit everyone’s comfort levels. Implementing these strategies can drastically improve participation and breathe new life into your meetings.


Addressing the issue of dysfunctional Daily Scrums is not just an act of troubleshooting; it’s an investment in your team’s future success. Remember, functional Scrum ceremonies are the heartbeat of an Agile team. Be proactive, and take steps to engage every voice, enriching your professional experience and team synergy.

How do you keep your daily stand-up alive? Share your top tricks in the comments below!

Debunking a Common Scrum Trap: No Silver Bullets Here

Reality Check: Overcoming the Common Scrum Trap of The ‘One-size-fits-all’ Concept

There’s a pervasive myth circulating in the Agile community that Scrum is a cure-all for every organizational ailment. This notion, what we’ll term the “Scrum is a Silver Bullet” mindset, is a common Scrum trap even experienced professionals fall into. In the below sections we’ll dissect this fallacy and offer practical guidance.

The Idealistic Expectations vs. Reality

One of the most appealing features of Scrum is its promise of agility and efficiency, leading many to believe it’s an end-all, be-all solution. But adopting this technique doesn’t mean immediate and unequivocal success; this is a common Scrum trap that organizations should be wary of.

What’s often left unspoken is that this popular project management framework requires a specific set of conditions to flourish—conditions that don’t necessarily exist in every organization. Over-idealization leads to unrealistic expectations, setting the stage for eventual disappointments. It’s vital to confront these idealistic perceptions, scrutinizing whether your organization’s dynamics truly align with what the approach requires for optimal performance.

Related: Agile Leadership Has the Power to Transform Your Business

Overestimation is a Common Scrum Trap

The ramifications of overestimating Scrum’s capabilities may be far-reaching, impacting not just project outcomes but also team morale. It’s another common Scrum trap that sets a dangerous precedent. Teams are pressured to deliver impossible outcomes, leading to burnout, skepticism towards the whole framework, and a loop of project failures.

You might be also interested in: Agile QuickTip: Don’t Manage Cross-Team Dependencies – Eliminate Them

Organizations that succumb to this pitfall might even begin to lose faith in the approach altogether. Worse, these setbacks can cast a pall over future initiatives, making stakeholders reluctant to invest in agile methodologies again. To avoid these outcomes, it’s crucial to align organizational goals with what this methodology is able to realistically deliver, making room for genuine success and sustainable development practices.

How to Approach Scrum’s Limitations Honestly

A fair acknowledgment of Scrum’s limitations is crucial for making the most out of this agile methodology, yet many shy away from this, falling into the common Scrum trap of overconfidence. The method isn’t designed to solve every problem or fit every organizational model. Ignoring this fact is a disservice to both your team and the project at hand.

Instead of viewing this methodology as a universal remedy, approach its limitations openly. Engage in candid conversations with your team and stakeholders about what this project management technique can and can’t achieve in your specific context. By setting realistic expectations and openly addressing limitations, you pave the way for the technique to operate where it truly excels, enabling more targeted and effective solutions.

Closing Words

Navigating the Agile landscape is a journey of continuous adaptation and learning. By recognizing and sidestepping the common Scrum trap of seeing the framework as a universal solution, you amplify its true potential. In your pursuit of achieving mastery in this profession, let authenticity and discernment be your guiding lights.

How Content Helps You Launch & Develop Your Scrum Career

Building your personal brand is the long-term strategy for Scrum Masters that will pay big dividends

You’ve got your Scrum Master certification, you’ve beefed up your LinkedIn profile, and yet no one is beating down your door to hire you. That’s probably because you don’t stand out from the hundreds of other worthy candidates competing for jobs in the Scrum space. While most recruiters will have cast a quick glance at your CV to determine if you meet the basic criteria, they’re going to be looking for that extra ingredient that motivates them to look you up. 

Which brings us back to your LinkedIn profile. You’ve probably made sure that all your certifications and job history are listed. Perhaps you even have endorsements. However, the last thing you posted was photos from the company’s Halloween party and “Bring your dog to work” day.

So, they know you like superheroes in capes and your dog is cute. That’s all they know. Otherwise, you’re pretty much invisible. You’re not liking, sharing, or commenting on relevant posts in your space. You’re also not adding any value by sharing useful information or starting conversations about hot topics. 

You’ve bought the entrance ticket. Now get a front row seat.

By obtaining a Scrum Master certification, you’ve bought your entrance ticket to this job sector. How do you get a front row seat and be considered? What is your X factor? You need to tell a consistent story about yourself and who you are over time. You need to build your personal brand.

This is not only going to be useful to you today, but it’s also going to help you build credibility and stronger relationships because you are constantly delivering value. You will be putting your knowledge and expertise out into the world, freely and generously. 

When there are lots of people competing for the same job, the person who has consistently provided value, made someone think, laugh or look at something differently, or maybe helped them in their work today is the person who is going to have the competitive edge. 

To stand out, have your say

Whether you’re a scrum master, project manager, or in another field entirely, the one thing you can do right now to advance yourself is create and publish content. Your profile gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise through the content that you share. It could be a blog, video, Slideshare, or something else — the mode doesn’t really matter. Is your content insightful? Represent a unique point of view? Provide value to your peers? 

This is your opportunity to develop your own unique voice. You’re positioning yourself, making connections, and developing relationships. If you’re fortunate enough to create something that goes viral, you’re bringing value to a large number of people, which looks great and let’s be honest, it feels great too.

Once you’ve developed a great piece of content, don’t just post it on LinkedIn. Share it on other channels such as Medium or Reddit. Take time out from a Netflix binge and get savvy on social media. 

Lost for words? Start by curating content

If you found a piece of content valuable, others might too. If you’ve just read a great article, take the time to summarize it and what you liked about it. If you’re already devouring hours of YouTube content on scrum, pick the top five every month, review and share them. Perhaps you enjoy trying new tools. Take note of what you liked (and what you didn’t) and share your list of pros and cons. These are three easy ways to get started with content creation. There are many more.

Content is evergreen & it builds your personal brand

What you post on your profile gives your connections clues as to who you are. By consuming your content, people get to know you, how you communicate,and your breadth of expertise. Hopefully, they start looking forward to hearing your take on things.

Over time, you develop your voice, personality, and opinions. People develop a sense of familiarity and may trust you to the point where they invite you to be a speaker and invite you to join professional panels. You’re able to widen your professional circle and broaden the range of things that you’re doing.

The content you invest time and energy in developing can, and does, positively influence people’s perceptions. They may even quote you, share your post, or remember your name.

Warning: AI doesn’t make you look more intelligent

Before you rush off and start pumping out content from ChatGPT, take a deep breath. Yes, it’s an easy way to quickly generate content. However, it’s not necessarily good content and it’s probably not original or authentic. That means it’s not going to differentiate you. While it’s great for generating ideas, it’s your opinion, your unique take on things, that’s going to set you apart. 

As AI becomes more ubiquitous and built into many of the tools we’re using today, so too will be the tools that instantly identify AI content. Your AI-generated email is going to be flagged immediately, and leave the recipient wondering why their request or issue didn’t merit a personal response. People want to feel heard and be treated with respect.

That’s not to say that AI isn’t a useful tool and you shouldn’t use it. It’s when and how you use it that’s important. In a space where bots are mimicking human conversation, honest and authentic opinions are valuable. This is a good place to say that the content you’re reading on this page was 100% human generated.

Why investing in content pays off

Investing in quality content serves you today and tomorrow. If you are looking for a new role, what you’ve posted on your profile is very helpful to the recruiter considering interviewing you for a position. Recruiters are fairly risk averse – they want to be sure that you’re not only a good fit for the job, but the team too. They’ll be looking for your take on things that may be relevant to the team they’ll be working in. 

Even your hobbies can be telling. One person may have mastered piano at 30 which demonstrates their ability to learn new skills, while another’s passion for model building shows exceptional attention to detail. The books you read, the events you take part in, and the certifications you add to your belt are all part of your story. Whether you like the speed of the 100 meters sprint or enjoy the challenge of a marathon also speaks to the pace you’re likely to enjoy in the workplace. 

If you’re not currently a job seeker, maintaining a strong presence on LinkedIn pays off. You may not be looking for a job now, but somebody may be looking for you. You could be headhunted for a position and singled out because of your valuable content and contributions to the LinkedIn community. Note the emphasis on “valuable.”

Developing content is like working out. The more you put into it, the stronger, fitter, and more competent you get.

Content is the core competency of the future

Today, everyone expects a basic level of competency in tools such as Office. In the future, content generation is going to be one of the core competencies that organizations will be looking for. Being able to supply it is going to make you a more valuable player. It’s a differentiator, a way for you to demonstrate and bring more value to anyone you’re working for or working with. The investment you make today will pay dividends tomorrow. 

P.S. I practice what I preach

I’m not a published author, I don’t have a Ph.D., and I’m not famous. What I do have is 12K followers on LinkedIn, 1,44K followers on YouTube, and 100,000+ followers on TikTok. That’s because I’ve made a point of creating valuable content that can be repurposed and shared on multiple channels. Today, more than 50% of people showing up to one of my classes have consumed a piece of my content before they walk into the class. 

What are you waiting for? Start right now! Let me know what you think.

Do You Find Agile Epics a Fuzzy Concept? Here’s A Guide.

Do You Find Agile Epics a Fuzzy Concept? Here’s Your Cheat Sheet

For many it might seem that Agile has some pretty confusing and frankly odd terminology. If you feel included in this group, let us give you a hand. In this article we give you some clarity regarding some of the methodology’s essential terms, in this case, Agile epics.

What Is An Agile Epic?

Essentially, the term user stories means requests from users regarding a given product. Though ’requests’ might not exactly be the best word to describe them, think of each as a small unit of functionality. Let’s say you are developing an app that is basically a map. One story could be a feature that allows users to calculate the optimal route between multiple points on the map, while, if your company offers trips abroad, another may be utilized for arranging accommodation. Stories are basically sub-tasks within a larger, more comprehensive unit.

You probably guessed it right, this larger unit is what’s called an epic. Within that, epic stories are related to each other as they are all pointing towards the same goal. Agile often works with independent yet connected teams, meaning each team can have their own Agile epics. These large chunks of work are parts of initiatives, which are the sub-groups of themes, which could be considered as a kind of overarching goal of the company.

Related: Agile QuickTip: User Stories and Product Ideas Should be Born on Index Cards

What’s The Benefit Of Agile Epics?

To put it shortly, clearly defined objectives and priorities. Agile is about continuous improvement and catering to customers’ needs. Large pieces of work and their smaller units help you exactly with that, giving your team a clear picture of the direction you need to go.

Another benefit is simply organization. A final product could be insanely complex, meaning there are plenty of small units of work to be taken care of. Stories that are more closely related to one another should be included in a category one level above them, and that’s where their epic counterparts enter the picture.

Last but not least, your time management might see some improvement. Agile epics contribute to planning sprints more effectively, thus giving your team a better estimate of how long the project is going to take. They are a great item in the toolbox that could be real game-changers.

Skipping Scrum Retrospective Meetings? You May Want to Reconsider

Scrum Retrospective Meetings – To Keep It Or Leave It?

How many times have you heard or said that retrospectives are useless? Project management can mean that we deal with problems on the go; so why waste our time? Guess what. Retrospective meetings are not about solving problems. Let us explain.

First, take a look at the Agile Manifesto, namely its 12th principle.

’At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.’

Noticed there’s no mentioning of any ’problems’ in there? Retrospective meetings are indeed the most widespread ways that support this principle, during which team members discuss how they can improve on operations. Obviously, if there are problems concerning daily tasks, by definition they hinder effective work; therefore, solving them is a pre-requisite for development. It’s a pre-requisite, not an end goal.

Very simply put, the goal of a sprint retrospective meeting is to improve and create efficiency throughout the product dev and release processes for the upcoming sprints. Development teams achieve this by discussing what went well and what did not during the previous sprint. In this way, an  inspect and adapt mindset is leveraged during sprint reviews and helps in the way of continuous improvement.

It All Boils Down To Concentration

Dealing with problems on the way is good indeed, so much so that postponing a problem until the retrospective meetings is a huge mistake. But why do scrum teams need to dedicate a separate ceremony to development itself, why can’t we just do that underway? The word you’re looking for is focus…

During ongoing projects, one must pay attention to opportunities for fixing issues; however, if there’s no dedicated time for that, these will simply get lost in the sea of urgent matters. Time presses us to solve things ASAP, meaning we tend to think in short-term solutions, creating just as much value as we possibly can in that short period of time.

Related: Agile QuickTip: Vegas-Style Retrospective

If we focus on and dedicate time to issues hindering us, however, we can create maximum value as per our creativity and individual talents. Additionally, this way we plan for the long-term, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of solutions we come up with much longer. A long-lasting reward for a short period of time spent on it. It’s not too hard to realize that long-term value outperforms clumsy, short-term solutions.

Final Thoughts On Retrospective Meetings

To sum it up, we need to keep dealing with problems constantly, but this cannot replace retrospective meetings. Smaller, menial problems could wait until the ceremony, but keep in mind that having no issues is the beginning of development, not its final goal.

To add to the myriad of benefits scrum retrospectives have for the scrum team is included its reputation in building consensus among development team members.

Ponder about it. Do you hold retrospectives with the above mindset? Do you even care to hold it? If not, are you aware that having no retrospective goes right against the definition of Agile and the scrum framework, as well as continuous adaptation and development?

How To Conduct a SWOT Analysis in Agile

The WHYs and HOWs of Agile SWOT Analysis

A common mistake during switching to Agile is that an organization throws the baby out with the bathwater, discarding business strategy, values and practices that have benefited them so far. In order to avoid this, a SWOT analysis might come in handy.

Though used in traditional management, SWOT analyses in Agile is equally beneficial and advised. Using it properly can help prevent this mistake.

What is a SWOT analysis?

Coined by Albert Humphrey in the 1960s, the term SWOT analysis is an easy-to-understand tool for strategic business planning, used often in traditional ways of management; often prior to but also during decision making. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The goal of the SWOT framework is to identify internal and external factors that could help or hinder the organization in achieving its goals, be it on the project level or above, business operations, competitive advantage or other area.

Internal factors:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

External factors:

  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Results are summarized using the SWOT matrix.

You might also be interested in: For High-Definition Planning, Plan Sprints Backward

How to conduct a SWOT analysis?

The two main steps are analysis and decision making/planning.

The main and most difficult objective of performing a SWOT analysis is mapping out the whole situation as accurately as possible. Practically there’s just no way to identify every single strength, weakness etc., so here’s a couple of tips that could help.

Define the objective as clearly as possible: Categories used by SWOT are too general; they need to be narrowed down.

Start with the external factors: Market factors can determine whether something should be considered a strength or weakness. Start by asking “what opportunities and threats exist?”

Extensive participation: Creating a SWOT analysis is not a one-man job. The more viewpoints are expressed, the better the results are going to be.

Dialogue: Dialogue is an essential part of a good analysis, so spare no time and effort allowing for it.

Balance: If the matrix is suspiciously one-sided, it’s worth going with at least 5 elements per category.

Decision making

The matrix you get by conducting the analysis is still not enough for success. You need to assess the results as well. The ways to do that are plenty with their usefulness, depending on the original question that made the whole analysis necessary.

If it was an open question (like what kind of product should we develop), there’s a wider variety of possible questions based on the matrix. For example:

  • What opportunities are made easier to use by our current strengths? Identifying these could get us ahead of competitors.
  • How can we avoid threats? How can we avoid having to face our weaknesses? Questions like these can point towards strategic change, even perhaps entering a new market.

If the analysis is conducted after the decision, questions should focus on implementation.

  • What particular strengths are important to reach a given objective?
  • Which of our weaknesses constitute the biggest threats and what are we doing against them?
  • Which opportunities must be used at all costs to reach our goal?

All questions should be examined in the context of the whole matrix, even though they might seem to focus on particular areas. A SWOT analysis is not just another meeting. It always shows the organization’s knowledge at the moment it’s being conducted. Given this, it’s worth repeating it regularly, especially in an environment that constantly keeps changing.

SWOT analysis in an Agile environment

Even though it is a tool used primarily by traditional management, Agile can benefit from it as well. SWOT analysis in Agile can be used when transitioning to Agile, at the beginning of product development, before new releases, or during product or team level retrospective meetings.

Additionally, SWOT analysis in Agile can be of great use when we as Scrum Masters or product Owners feel like our team is out of balance either because of being overly confident or due to the lack of motivation. Emphasizing internal strengths and weaknesses can help re-balance the team.

Top 10 Most Common Agile Software Development Questions

Your Most Frequent Agile Software Development Questions Answered

As you may know, for most companies today, agile software development is essential, given the environment of ever-changing expectations. More and more companies realize the value of Agile methodologies. In contrast to traditional methods, agile frameworks allow for fast adaptation to customers’ expectations; provides a framework for products of the highest quality and helps to develop a viable version of a product relatively fast. Sounds good right?

Should you be intending to give it a try, or just get to know a little more about it, we got you covered. Here are some of the top Agile software development questions that help you get a better picture about the agile process.

  1. Is Agile only used in IT?

It originates from IT; however, several diverse industries have adopted the methodology in some way and shape, including but not limited to the finance, automotive, healthcare & pharma, and engineering industries.

You might also be interested in: 7 Companies in 7 Industries That Have Successfully Adapted to COVID-19

  1. What is Agile?

Simply put, Agile software development is a collection of best practices; namely, that the development process is broken down to pieces in a way that each development cycle adds an additional functional feature to the software. The methodology has 12 basic principles, laid out in the Agile Manifesto.

  1. Are there multiple Agile methods?

There are indeed. Agile has various flavors; some of the more popular ones include Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Crystal, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) and Feature-Driven Development.

  1. Which one suits my project best?

This always depends on your specific goals, the product and the company itself. There’s no one-size-fits-all here; you should take the time to examine which methodology is the most appropriate for your project.

  1. What makes this approach better than traditional methods?

Agile software development allows for a user-centered development process therefore lending itself to increased customer satisfaction. The software is quickly released, and customer feedback can be built into subsequent versions. Due to this continuous improvement there is also a higher chance of having a product of greater quality. 

When using an agile approach, you’re working in smaller sprints making it easier for teams to recover parts of the development project if things are not working as planned. In this way the risks are reduced too.

  1. Is it the customers who tell what the product should look like?

Yes and no. They’re not telling what and how you should develop, instead what they need and consider important in a given software. That feedback should define the product itself. Agile helps by shifting the development process from feature-centered to user-centered.

7.Is this method faster than other ones?

Chances are it is, especially in contrast to more traditional systems. Agile software development allows you to build a functional raw version, that could be used to gather feedback from users that will later be built into the software until it meets their maximum satisfaction. In essence, Agile software development allows for value to be delivered sooner. The methodology enables teams to focus on the right things, so reaching the outcome  is more efficient and faster. 

  1. Do customers get a half-baked product?

They don’t. What they get is a minimum viable product (MVP) with usually one initial feature. MVP is a concept taken from agile scrum to describe a product with minimal features  that are just enough to meet the needs of early stage customers. Customers are then able to validate and provide feedback for further development of the product. 

Think of sharing photos as a feature on Instagram. One basic, yet fully viable feature is not much, but can be used as a starting point for further development.

  1. How long does the Agile software development process take?

It always depends on the very complexity of the thing that’s being built. Custom development can be anything between 4 to 12 months, with iterations of 2 to 4 weeks in length. The advantage here is that an early version can quickly be released to the public.

  1. Can you save money with this project management methodology?

Most certainly you can, though in an indirect way. Since Agile software development allows for releasing a very basic version of a product, no time and money is spent on developing features that eventually will turn out to be useless. Continuous feedback helps you better understand your target audience, thus making marketing more effective and simultaneously cutting its costs.

Closing Words

Agile is indeed an effective method of running projects, and not just in software development. However, there are some prerequisites for it to work. One is a company structure that allows for cross-functional development teams. Another is choosing the right framework for a particular project. In order to make things nice and smooth, try implementing the approach in smaller tasks to see what issues arise that need to be changed or improved upon.