Why Scrum? The 6 Very Real Benefits of Agile

We’ve all experienced projects that, despite our best efforts, delivered late, weren’t up to our quality standards, and didn’t quite meet our customer’s needs. Failed projects not only negatively impact the bottom line, they also can damage reputations and crush morale. Even in the face of this reality, however, many are reluctant to try new ways of developing software. Sure, that might work for other companies, they say, but it won’t work here.

Perhaps, but the benefits are worth trying! I’ve witnessed first hand how different reality can be for organizations that diligently apply Scrum’s principles and processes to their software development efforts. These companies experience six very real benefits from Scrum and agile, as shown in the following figure:

Scrum Benefits

Let’s look briefly at each of these benefits.

Scrum teams delight customers by giving them what they really want, not just the features they might have specified back when they knew very little about their true needs. Want to understand more about the folly of too much upfront planning? You might want to check out another blog of mine, “Plan Like an Extreme Skier.”

Scrum teams also experience better ROI because they deliver smaller pieces of functionality more frequently. Scrum’s fast pace also exposes organizational dysfunction and waste; eliminating these often hidden problems might be painful at first, but it certainly helps to reduce costs. For a more in depth look at the relationship between Scrum, waste, and ROI, I encourage you to read, “Agile Misalignment through the Enterprise Value Chain.”

Scrum teams must deliver working, integrated, tested, business-valuable features each and every sprint, which means results are delivered quickly. Scrum is also well-suited to succeeding in a complex environment—one in which teams must adapt quickly based on the interconnected actions of competitors, customers, users, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders.

Last but not least, Scrum teams experience more joy. Now joy might at first seem like a fairly soft benefit, but it has very real economic effects. When people are enjoying their work, they are more likely to stay. Less job turnover equals very real cost savings. And when people are working well as a team, they can innovate and collaborate to bring new and exciting products to life—things no one could have imagined when they were working as individuals.

So can Scrum work for you? Most likely, yes. Scrum is not a silver bullet, or a cure-all, but I’ve seen it enable teams to embrace the changes that accompany all complex product development efforts—So the better question could be why not yours?

You can read more about these benefits in Chapter 1 of my Essential Scrum book.