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Is Scrum only for Software Development?

Scrum Framework is one of the most implemented Agile frameworks in many organizations as it is lightweight, and easy to understand. Many professionals find Scrum an easy framework to adopt, as the concepts and practices are easily trainable and Scrum team members develop products effectively. The vast majority of the population believes that Scrum could only be used for software development, however, Scrum could also be used in areas apart from software development in almost any domain or industry possible. In today's world, everything moves rapidly and there is little to no time for responding to change in trends in the market. Hence, industries have to be Agile such that they can adapt to changes easily and be ready for any kind of opportunities to increase their business value and create a brand among people. But the question may arise as to where could Scrum be used other than software development, and how efficient is it to provide results as expected? This article answers this question shortly and simply such that professionals understand the scope of Scrum beyond software development. 

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an iterative and incremental approach towards product development that is used to solve complex problems by adaptive creative solutions. It is described as a lightweight, easy to understand, but difficult to master framework by the Scrum Guide. It is one of the simplest ways of implementing Agile in an organization as it delivers its values in time-boxed periods called Sprints. The three main roles of Scrum are the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, and the Developers. The Product Owner interacts with the customer or client and anticipates their needs and communicates with the Developers. The Scrum Master is a true leader that handles any impediments faced by the Developers and also facilitates various Scrum Events, and the Developers are the backbone of the Scrum Team who create and deliver the product. Scrum helps the organization to increase its business value by providing an early return on investment. Also, adopting Scrum promotes Agile principles and values in the company which helps people learn more skills and become more efficient to the organization. 

Where is Scrum used other than Software development?

Many organizations weave Agile into all the operations of the company such as Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, Production, Public Relations, Operation Management, Research, and Development, etc. Scrum could also be used by individuals to write their book or to create any other content. This is because Scrum provides an easy and flexible structure that keeps the priorities of the company or the individual in order, and creates a short-term and long-term plan. Scrum helps the company to stay organized and schedule a forecast for the product execution. Scrum can help with any work which has a to-do list and a team which needs to complete the list to reach a result. It is not a project management method but is a framework that is socially engineered to make the team more effective and efficient. 

Suppose you are building a new office using traditional construction techniques, Scrum is probably not required in this scenario. But if the builder is not sure about how the work would evolve throughout the project, and few technical unknowns cannot be solved at the moment, Scrum could prove to be a big relief that would make the job much easier. Software development mostly has similar problems where the team cannot decide the specifics at the beginning of the project. But as the project grows, they understand what has to be added to the project. This is one of the most significant reasons why Scrum is popular among software development methods. Today, Scrum is used in many other areas in various projects such as architecture, aerospace, construction, banking, accounting, finance, government projects, etc.  

Uses of Being Agile in Various Industries

The advantages of Agile could be better understood when the drawbacks of traditional project management are known. In the traditional method, a new project begins with significant planning about the features of the product which becomes rigid and does not allow any scope for changes throughout the product. As new information erupts along the product course, the priorities would change which would leave the original plan in vain. All of the time and effort which could have been spent developing the product instead of planning in detail would be rendered useless. When bigger projects were handled using traditional methods, the stakeholders would often question when the project would be over and when they could see the final product. This also means that the client would not be involved in the development process and the Developers may end up creating products that the client would not approve. Another drawback is that till the time the team develops the entire product, the market would have changed and the product may no longer be relevant. This would again make the efforts and finances invested in the product useless. 

How does Scrum help in overcoming all these drawbacks?
  • Scrum eliminates unnecessary planning at the beginning of the project as it concentrates on the act of "working" rather than planning to work. The planning is limited to a certain period, where the team creates a short-term goal that would help the product to increase its business value at the present moment. As the team receives more information about the markets and also receives feedback from the stakeholders, the product could be easily adapted according to their needs.
  • Scrum can address the changing or shifting priorities easily as it favors short-term planning instead of long-term planning. Each Sprint cycle plans detailed tasks that have to be completed by the team so that the team focuses on few features at a time. This helps the teams to understand the customer demands, market shifts, and changing business needs. 
  • Scrum displays an estimated and predictable product roadmap progress as the Sprint lasts for a maximum of 30 days. Customers can review results and be assured that work is being done and also can have an estimated time of when the work will be completed. Hence, the team remains focused on delivering results in a given time and create quality increments. The Sprint method helps the team to avoid ambiguous completion dates and stick to schedules estimated in the Sprints.
  • Scrum also provides an earlier return on investment, faster time to market, and creates a self-organizing environment where the entire Scrum team is accountable for a particular profit or loss. The Agile mindset promotes growth and avoids creating a command-and-follow method. The blame-game among the team is also avoided as everyone is accountable for a particular project and everyone is encouraged to collaborate and communicate with each other.
The Application of Scrum Framework

Whenever Scrum has to be applied for any domain or industry, few key aspects have to be considered so that effective results could be achieved. The team has to understand all the core values and disciplines of Scrum and know how the Scrum Events work. The features that the team has to keep in mind are:

  • Concentrating on the priorities of the customer as the main aim of the product development is to satisfy the needs of the customer. The team may feel productive when they are checking off tasks on the to-do list but one has to consider whether the items that are being completed are adding value to the product. Hence, the items the team is working on have to be checked thoroughly.
  • The team has to plan realistically as it is easy to overestimate the work that can be finished in a specific Sprint. Always keep promises that could be completed as customers would not like it if the promised feature is not delivered as scheduled. The team should discuss what is achievable in the timeframe and whether they can finish it before the Sprint ends. This encourages the team to work towards a particular goal within a period and yield results as expected. 
  • Scrum could only work when the team is effectively communicating with one another. Regular meetings, Scrum Events, and other interactions may seem like added work but it is equally as important as work itself. The Scrum Events are designed such that all of the team could collaborate and discuss all the topics that would be relevant to the product development. These events eliminate unnecessary waste of time and also bridges the gap between the team members. The Scrum Team has proven to enhance their productivity and decrease their wasted time by religiously following the guidelines of Scrum Events. 

Scrum is one of the most implemented frameworks in software development. However, it can also be used in many other industries such as construction, aerospace, accounting and finance, government projects, etc. Any industry that has a specific to-do list and a team that has to accomplish the task could use the Scrum framework. Scrum aims to optimize teams to function in the Agile way and become a blueprint for the project. Scrum is designed to be loose and not rigid to accommodate changes according to the needs of the customer. Hence, implementing Scrum in non-software projects shows promising results that enhance the business values and productivity of the team and the organization as a whole. 



Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.