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July 14, 2023
10 min read

11 Myths about Scrum Agile Methodology

Since Scrum looks like a simple Agile methodology, many myths and misconceptions surround it. So, let's explore some popular myths and see how true they are.
Anton Versal
Anton Versal
Scrum mythbusters

Scrum is regarded as the simple and efficient Agile methodology for complex project development. However, Scrum is not a complete methodology or an all-in-one solution to deal with all kinds of scenarios. Scrum provides a simple yet effective framework for teams to self-organize and deal with complex projects using a collaborative and empirical approach. So, the simplicity of Scrum methodology makes it a popular project development approach. However, its simplicity has also raised many myths. Therefore, this article intends to discuss the 11 myths about Scrum Agile methodology and see how true they are. So, let's get started!

Myth 1. Agile and Scrum are the Same Thing

The first myth and the most common one we see around is the interchangeable use of Agile and Scrum. Many have developed a misconception that Agile and Scrum are the same things. However, the reality is that Agile and Scrum are not the same.

Scrum is a specific framework for project management that emphasizes iterative-based development with a focus on delivering a releasable version of software after every iteration. On the other hand, Agile is a broad umbrella term that reflects the set of values and principles for project development and management, emphasizing flexibility, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

Basically, Scrum falls under the umbrella of Agile and is considered one of the popular Agile methodologies. However, you will even find other Agile methodologies, such as Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Lean Development, etc. All these methodologies have their unique set of principles and practices. In short, Scrum and Agile are not the same things. Scrum is a part of Agile, while Agile is not limited to Scrum.

Myth 2. Presence of the Scrum Master in the Daily Scrum

Another popular myth that surrounds Scrum is the presence and dominance of the Scrum Master in the Daily Scrum. However, this myth misinterprets what the Scrum Guide explains about Daily Scrum.

As per Scrum Guide, the Daily Scrum is a time-boxed, short meeting that should not last longer than 15 minutes. It gives the opportunity to the development team members to discuss what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and what are the impediments/obstacles.

Basically, the guide clarifies that the Daily Scrum is entirely a "development team" driven meeting. The role of Scrum Master is more of a facilitator, which ensures that the meeting takes place, sets calendar invitations, finalizes the meeting time, ensures all impediments are noted, and does similar other tasks. In short, the presence of a Scrum Master is not mandatory in the Daily Scrum. Even if the Scrum Master joins the meeting, he is not supposed to lead the meeting. It is the development team members who will lead the meeting and collaborate to plan their work.

Myth 3. Sprint Backlog is Unchangeable during the Sprint

Another common myth associated with Scrum is that the Sprint Backlog is unchangeable during the Sprint. Again, it is untrue and deviates from what Scrum Guide teaches.

The Sprint Backlog presents the items the development team extracts from the Product Backlog to accomplish the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is the specific target of the current Sprint that the team has planned in the Sprint Planning meeting.

During the Sprint, it is likely that the team might face obstacles, the priorities might change, or new information might emerge. For example, the team might realize they missed including a key feature during the Sprint Planning crucial to reaching the Sprint Goal. Similarly, they might discover that the technology they intend to use might not deliver the required outcome. Therefore, the development team may add new items to the Sprint Backlog, remove items that are no longer necessary, or adjust the scope of existing items, all while ensuring that they still comply with the Sprint Goal.

Moreover, it is also important that the development team negotiate the changes in the Sprint Backlog with the Product Owner. In short, the Sprint Backlog is changeable during the Sprint, not the Sprint Goal.

Myth 4. Product Backlog should be presented as User Stories

While there are many ways to present Product Backlog items, many have developed a wrong perception that backlog items should be presented as user stories. To address this myth, let's first define what a user story is in Scrum.

A user story is a simple, brief description of a backlog item from the end-user perspective. A typical user story follows a format such as: "As a [user persona], I want [a feature or functionality], so that [I can achieve a specific goal or benefit]." In short, user stories are meant to be concise and focused on the user's needs rather than technical details.

Many Scrum teams are seen using user stories to present Product Backlog, especially when they are estimating the efforts using techniques like Planning Poker, Async Poker, Dot Voting, T-Shirt Sizing, Affinity Estimation, etc. User stories make it easy to understand requirements and are also an effective way of breaking complex requirements into smaller, more manageable pieces.

However, Product Backlog items can be presented in many ways other than user stories. For example, if the backlog item represents a technical task, it can be described with more technical details. In short, Scrum does not make user stories mandatory for presenting the Product Backlog. Scrum teams can pick whatever way they like to present their backlogs.

Myth 5. Scrum Master is Responsible for Resolving All Problems

A common misconception about the Scrum Master's role is that they are responsible for resolving all problems. To evaluate the truthfulness of this myth, we have to take a closer look at the responsibility of the Scrum Master.

The Scrum Master's primary responsibility is to ensure that the Scrum framework is understood and applied correctly by the development team. He helps the team to become self-managing and self-organizing. Although he is meant to remove obstacles that are hindering the development team from achieving the Sprint Goal, it does not imply that the Scrum Master is responsible for solving all problems.

The Scrum Master provides a suitable working environment to the team, facilitates communication/collaboration, and helps the team improve continuously. In short, the Scrum Master role is more of a facilitator that encourages the development team to take ownership of the problem and find a solution collaboratively. Since the development team is responsible for delivering the product, they should be skilled and capable of finding the best solutions on their own.

Myth 6. There is No Planning in Scrum

Since Scrum encourages a flexible and adaptable approach for product development, many believe there is no planning concept in Scrum. However, it is also untrue.

Since Scrum is a different product development approach than the traditional one, planning in Scrum is iterative instead of a one-time thing. Scrum involves planning in multiple stages, as follows:

  • Backlog Estimation: Before Sprint Planning, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the development team carries out the estimation session to estimate the effort of backlog items, discuss the development approach, address uncertainties, and re-prioritize Product Backlog.
  • Sprint Planning: Before the start of the Sprint, the Scrum team carries out the Sprint Planning session, where they finalize the Sprint Goal and select the items from the Product Backlog to create the Sprint Backlog.
  • Daily Scrum: The development team carries out a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting to plan the work that will be done during the next 24 hours.
  • Backlog Refinement: The Product Owner and the development team undergo backlog refinement sessions throughout the project to refine the Product Backlog to facilitate planning.
  • Sprint Retrospective: At the end of each Sprint, the Scrum Team reflects on the previous Sprint and identifies opportunities for improvement in their processes and collaboration.

In short, planning is still a crucial part of Scrum, just the way the Scrum team plans is different and iterative.

Myth 7. Scrum Master is a Project Manager

Many myths about Scrum are associated with Scrum Master. So, another popular myth you might hear is considering Scrum Master equivalent to the Project Manager. Although both roles look similar, they are fundamentally different.

The Project Manager is responsible for managing the whole project, from planning and scheduling to budgeting and ensuring timely and quality delivery. Overall, the Project Manager manages the project team, interacts with the stakeholders, and provides reports about the project process.

In contrast, the Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the Scrum process, which involves coaching the team on Scrum principles and practices, facilitating Scrum events, removing obstacles, and ensuring that the team follows the Scrum framework.

So, both roles involve the aspects of coordination and leadership, but the responsibilities and approach are different. Scrum Master encourages the development team to self-organize, while the Project Manager manages the whole project.

Myth 8. Scrum Results in Faster Outputs and Cheaper Execution

Another popular myth about Scrum is that it always leads to faster outputs and cheaper execution. It is also sometimes the reason why teams choose to adopt Scrum. Although it is true that Scrum helps teams work more efficiently, this myth eradicates the complication a team can face during product development.

Scrum encourages incremental-based releases with the highest-priority features released first. This way, the team can deliver a usable product version much faster compared to the traditional approach in which the complete product is released at the end. However, this should not confuse you in believing that Scrum can always result in faster outputs and cheaper execution. Many factors can influence the process, such as product complexity, team's skill and experience, tools/technologies used, and similar others.

It is possible that Scrum might lead to slower outputs and costly execution, especially in the case of new Scrum teams. In short, although Scrum has proven to accelerate outputs and ensure cheaper execution, it cannot "always" guarantee such results.

Myth 9. Only the Technical Person can become Scrum Master

Considering the duties and responsibilities of a Scrum Master, there is another misconception that the Scrum Master should be a technical person. Although it is not wrong to make a technical person the Scrum Master, it is not mandatory.

The Scrum Guide does not specify who should be the Scrum Master. In fact, it is common to see that even certified Scrum Masters often struggle in the role due to a lack of experience. There are different rules and challenges in Scrum, so it requires prior Scrum environment experience for anyone to play the role of Scrum Master. In short, it does not matter if the person is technical or non-technical. What is whether the person has prior experience and can ensure compliance with the Scrum framework.

Myth 10. Scrum means No Documentation

Since Scrum emphasizes working software over comprehensive documentation, some think that Scrum does not value documentation. However, this does not depict that documentation is unnecessary.

Scrum orients the team to provide value to customers faster, listen to feedback timely, and ensure requirements are fulfilled efficiently. Therefore, it does not encourage spending time on extensive documentation. However, documentation is still present in Scrum-based development projects.

Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, meeting minutes, and Sprint Retrospectives are all associated with documentation. In short, Scrum recognizes documentation as an important aspect and uses it wherever necessary without compromising the quality of iterative-based product deliveries.

Myth 11. Velocity is the Same as Value in Scrum

Velocity is the same as Value in Scrum is another misconception. To better understand this myth, we must define Velocity and Value properly.

Velocity implies the average Product Backlog amount the Scrum team has turned into a product increment during a Sprint. Velocity helps to determine how many backlog items a team can deliver in a Sprint. Moreover, it also helps to determine how many Sprints are required to complete the development.

Value implies the usefulness or worth of something. In terms of Scrum, value is created when the product/increment reaches the customers, they find it effective, and they start taking benefit from it.

From the definition of both Velocity and Value, you can see their distinguishing aspects. Velocity is for the team to evaluate its process, while Value reflects the product's usefulness from the customer's perspective.

Wrapping Up

Scrum is the most widely used Agile methodology that is even getting adopted outside the software development industry. Scrum, when done rightly, can lead to faster, quality, and cheaper product development in a collaborative environment. However, it can turn the other way around if the above-discussed myths and similar others hinder the team from getting Scrum's full potential. Therefore, try to avoid getting into the trap of the above myths and misconceptions around Scrum and try to extract the full potential of Scrum for high-quality and iterative-based fast releases.

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