The Business Value in Agile Software and Scrum

By Ionela Barbuta

Scrum is transforming project management across every industry and business. The methodology allows organisations to react quickly and accurately to the inevitable changes along the way.

In broad lines, Scrum is a set of practices that creates a flexible framework, which allows consistent and predictable delivery of results. One of the major changes from traditional waterfall-like approaches is the involvement, almost in real-time, of decision makers’ input. In brief, it changed the supplier and client approach with a unified team whose goal is the success of the final product.

What is the scrum business value when developing software? The methodology is known to have a positive effect over quality, schedule and even budget. One of the major benefits outlined is that the fast-paced release cycle and constant feedback enable projects to easily cope with market changes.

From the client’s perspective, scrum supports the fast delivery of projects and allows prioritisation of value-added features. This implies usually lower investments and higher or quicker ROI, seeing as features that are less relevant could end up being discarded completely from the backlog. The result is a higher product-market fit at lower costs.

When it comes to planning, Scrum brings transparency and accountability to the organization through repeatable and predictable release schedules and self-managing teams. The typical overhead tasks of project management are removed (e.g. keeping Gantt charts up to date, being the proxy between team members and customer, meetings, making minutes and memos) and the entire team stands up and commits to the planning, since everyone has a say in it. Very nice side effects are the improved customer relationships and motivated team members.

The business value of Scrum in Maxcode:

Improved estimations and client expectations. Scrum uses relative estimating in terms of story points. This might be way off if you try to convert immediately to man-days effort, but it’s very accurate in showing the differences in complexity per story. This supports us and our clients in creating realistic backlogs that are prioritised by business value and complexity.

Increased accuracy as projects evolve. After a couple of sprints, when the average velocity becomes clearer, the conversion from scrum points to man-days becomes more reliable than estimating in real days. Our teams develop their own awareness about the size and complexity of a story in the context of the project. As our engagements are usually medium to long term, we see an improvement in the way we commit to deliveries and manage deadlines.

Simple rules that make sense for everyone. Scrum is a framework of simple rules comparable to chess. It starts with simple rules but there is no limitation in applying and improving them. While one client adheres to all Scrum rules, other prefers a more basic approach or a tailored Scrum approach. Even clients that don’t play a Product Owner role still benefit from simple advantages such as the Product Backlog that is created with prioritisation of business value in mind. The team has a clear overview of what needs be done and when and the burn-down chart of progress versus time left shows exactly where we are.

Autonomous teams. Using Scrum offers autonomy to the development team. This requires all members to be involved in the estimates from the start. This is a major difference compared to organisations that do estimates with senior employees alone, involving the rest of the team only in the implementation stage. The involvement and willingness to commit to a result, using Scrum is a major part of the experience.

Predictable planning while maintaining flexibility. No time is wasted on writing specifications or creating Gantt charts that become obsolete within days or weeks. Short iterations and measuring velocity supports the team to deliver results consistently with less management overhead.

Market data

Statistics by Software Advice, an online resource for technology review, identify the way agile software users operate these systems and reveal the greatest benefits and challenges they offer.

We wanted to uncover the common challenges that occur with agile project management software. 49% of respondents cited the top common challenge of implementing agile software is difficulty training othersto use the system.” John Leslie, Research Manager at Software Advice

In addition, we wanted to find out which specific agile software features help improve efficiency. 88 per cent of respondents cited activity streams and scrum boards made them ‘somewhat’ or ‘much more’ efficient in managing projects. This wasn’t a surprise, as these features are at the heart of agile and allow for greater visibility and communication of tasks and progress. Also not surprisingly, activity streams and scrum boards were the most used agile software features, with 89 and 88 per cent of respondents regularly using them, respectively.” said John Leslie

Agile software business value across industries

According to, a range of non-software industries adopted Scrum successfully. Military and Defence, Education and Automotive are some of the industries cited, using agile practices for efficient product development. Scrum can be used in new technologies and services as well as managing investments in legacy infrastructure.

Enterprises in the financial industry are facing major challenges in creating and maintaining technology platforms and systems. The major struggle is to deliver services aligned with the dynamic consumer market, which is more diverse in terms of technology usage. Adopting a Scrum approach may relieve the pressure of playing catch-up with consumer expectations. It is not hard, it just requires commitment from everyone involved and accepting that, through iterations, a better product than the one initially envisioned can be achieved.

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