Scrum Beyond Software

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Scrum Beyond Software

Scrum Versatility

The Agile Project Management Methodology, Scrum, has thrived, being known as the leading new management framework for software development. However, Scrum has excelled beyond this single industry, becoming an effective management structure for a wide range of industries and environments. But is Scrum right for your team?

Scrum project teams can be defined by the following qualities: incremental project lengths, team size, defined acceptance criteria, and complex, changing environments. So, looking at how your project aligns with these qualities is a good way to see if Scrum can help your team achieve its goals, as it has for many teams over the years, including our teams at ProCogia.

Project Length

In Scrum, it is important for your project to actually be a project, an endeavor with a complete goal in mind, and more than that, your project needs to be divisible into tasks. If your team is working on a single, never-ending goal that cannot be broken down into smaller increments, then Scrum might not be a good fit. When working in Scrum, there should be no step of work that cannot be completed within a single sprint (typically 1-2 weeks), and every step of work should be able to be completed and reviewed once it is finished.

Use When Your Project Is:

  • Able to be broken down into smaller work increments that can be accomplished in a short time frame.
  • Defined to end at a specific date or when certain criteria have been met.

Example: A team building marketing material for a new campaign’s start date.

Don’t Use When Your Project Is:

  • A singular purpose task that is continuous and cannot be incremented.
  • The project does not have a defined end or is designed to continue indefinitely.

Example: A customer support team whose goal is to provide continuous quality service.

Team Size

Scrum teams function best as small teams (typically 5-9 people) that can pivot quickly and whose small management teams (1 Scrum Master and 1 Product Owner) keep decisions moving forward and not being stalled by committee. The small number of developers/direct contributors means that the Scrum Master can stay on track with the work being done by every member of their team.

Use When Your Team Is:

  • A small team of 3-7 contributors and 1-2 management support personnel.

Example: A Product Manager working with a small team to design a product.

Don’t Use When Your Team Is:

  • So small that the structure and process of the Scrum framework provides little benefit.
  • So large that the team lacks direct and clear communication between management and direct contributors.

Example: A Sales Manager overseeing 10+ salespeople.

Acceptance Criteria

Within Scrum, it is important that the acceptance criteria for a project’s requirements are concrete, well-defined, and achievable by the team’s efforts alone. This allows for a Scrum team to create a “definition of done” that permits the project increments to be released instead of needing continuous work, and does not delay future increments of the project. If the project has unclear requirements at the start or heavily requires input from outside stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, this can negatively impact a project and is better suited for a more flexible project management structure.

Use When Your Goals Are:

  • Achievable primarily through the project team’s efforts alone.
  • Have clear and defined requirements.

Example: Educational teams needing to meet defined requirements when building a curriculum.

Don’t Use When Your Goals Are:

  • Unclear at the start and largely based on the discoveries found during the project process.
  • Rely heavily on input from 3rd-party stakeholders such as regulatory authorities.

Example: Land development teams that require long wait times for clearance from regulatory authorities before being able to move on to the next steps.

Complex Environment

Scrum is a management framework based in Agile, designed to allow teams to make quick decisions and adapt to changing circumstances. While it is important for teams to have well-defined requirements when dealing with delivering increments or features, many industries face some level of uncertainty in how the overall project requirements might change for the long-term result. In Scrum project management, one benefit is re-evaluating priorities at the end of every sprint and redirecting resources to better accommodate how the environment might have changed since the project’s inception.

Use When Your Environment Is:

  • Fast-paced and requires quick adaptation to new circumstances.
  • Has some level of uncertainty that will need to be addressed as the project continues.

Example: Construction company where there is an expectation of some level of delays to adapt to.

Don’t Use When Your Environment Is:

  • Largely static or unchanging where a long-term plan can be developed.
  • In an industry where the projects being done have tried and true tested structures that require little to no adaptation.

Example: An auditing firm with a structured and unchanging process for audits.


Scrum has grown to be one of the most effective management structures being used in the modern professional setting and is being adapted to more industries every year. So, now is always the time to be asking: Is Scrum right for my team?”

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