I have noticed on some job ads where at the near end company states "we do scrum".

I'm just getting into scrum stuff and I learned little bit about scrumbuts https://www.scrum.org/resources/what-scrumbut.

Is there a way to assess if company has concerning scurmbuts or do I need to have years of experience with scrum before I can notice these things?

  • 1
    "We do scrum - we have daily stand ups and we do retrospective meetings". Sometimes the problem isn't about Scrum, but about people missing the point of the benefits of any working framework. – Tiago Cardoso Nov 7 at 22:36
  • @TiagoCardoso I agree. I'm not asking whether company should be doing scrum when they state they are. As you said that sometimes the problem isn't about the scrum, but about how people are missing the point of benefits of it. I'm asking if there are some ways to find out whether they are missing some points of benefits. – Siim Haas Nov 8 at 6:19
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The first team I was in that practiced Scrum did almost every practice wrong. It was also the most enjoyable team I've ever worked on and one of the most agile. I'd be far less worried about if they practice Scrum properly and more concerned about their overall approach to software development. I'd ask questions like:

  • How frequently does the team sit down with end users using the application?
  • What happens when the teams learn that expected deadlines will not be met?
  • What does your release process look like?
  • How do you make sure your application meets the appropriate level of quality?

I think you'll learn far more about the way the company works with questions like this than trying to determine if they practice Scrum by the book.

Assuming you're currently not working with Scrum (or other agile frameworks) at the moment, why would you care about ScrumButs? I mean, different companies will have different "maturity levels" on Scrum (some with more buts, some with less).

Scrum is a tool with a purpose, not purpose in itself. If you join a company that's not yet mature enough (or with some ScrumButs) you can look at it as an opportunity to understand how Scrum could help the project to address the problem. Maybe Scrum isn't the answer; maybe the people who say they're doing Scrum are not quite sure 'what does that mean', either.

With that said, you can identify some teams that are "moving towards" agile methodologies when they fall into any of the below characteristics:

  • Very hierarchical teams, not allowing courage to flourish
  • No focus on incremental deliverable with business value at the end of an iteration
  • Different specific roles within the team for analysis, development, testing
  • Only development team doing Scrum
  • Hard requirements / deadlines being imposed on the development teams

As a side note, worth to notice that some companies and projects are still learning the difference between "being agile" and "doing scrum" and using both expressions indiscriminately, but that could also be considered a smell per se.

  • When you say "moving towards", do you mean "are still a far way from / never going to be"? It doesn't sound like a sincere movement in the direction, judging by the list of points below it. – Erik Nov 8 at 6:17
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    Hi @Erik, I see this as a group of explorers in a jungle searching for El Dorado. Depending on their expertise, they may be reaching their destination or they may just be wandering around in circles. That's why experience and tools might be useful (and Scrum is a tool here, not the goal). So, they're moving towards because they're moving... and moving (even in circles) is better than waiting for El Dorado to fall from heaven. – Tiago Cardoso Nov 8 at 10:05

Some questions I would ask are:

  • Do you have a potentially shippable increment at the end of every sprint?
  • How many of the problems raised in your retrospectives can't be solved within the team?
  • Is your Product Owner from the business?
  • How often do you 'carry over' stories from one sprint to the next?

The first one is probably the biggest sign of agility. If they are shipping to production every sprint or can ship to production every sprint, then it is likely they are in a reasonably good place.

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