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If you Want to Save Money, Don't use Scrum

November 2, 2022

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Weird, isn’t it? Scrum itself does not save you any money. Why not? This whole autonomous, incremental thing should pay off, right?

The good news is that it definitely can pay off. Having the fastest Formula 1 car does not make you an instant winner. Neither does having a football team with all the best players in the world. There is one factor to success in these examples; the right decision-making.

It’s all you

Scrum is a framework for creating adaptive solutions in complex domains. In other words; building the right thing based on the information that is available right now.

And that’s where the money-saving part is. If we build and deliver what matters right now, we limit waste sneaking into the product. Waste can have different forms. To list a few:

- unused features

- less need for maintenance

- scaling down team size when appropriate

Use the empirical process control and gather information. That enhances the probability of delivering a piece of value.

Don’t focus on money

Money shouldn’t be the focus when implementing the Scrum framework. That has a higher potential of setting your teams up for failure. My experience is that setting such a goal plunges teams into falsifying metrics. It becomes a watermelon; it seems nice and green on the outside, but bright red on the inside.

Photo by Inbal Cohen on Unsplash

As a side effect, the Scrum Values are not lived as they should. Ownership diminishes. And that’s exactly the opposite of what you would want.

Limiting risk

As I mentioned, we can enhance the probability of delivering value. That means that we work with assumptions and hypotheses before any form of validation. Basing decision-making on very little information elevates our risk of being wrong. In other words, we’re wrong until proven otherwise. Making plans very far ahead has a higher probability of leading us astray.

This is the whole purpose of having short timeboxes of one month at max. Having longer Sprints has a higher chance of having the Sprint Goal become obsolete. Also, the circumstances of the product environment might change. That ties back to the earlier mentioned waste.

There is no pot of saved gold

Even if Scrum would save you money (which again, it doesn’t by itself), you couldn’t prove it. The circumstances where Scrum teams operate are unique. Every team and organization is different. If you would want to confirm that hypothesis, you would have to replicate the exact same team, same knowledge, skills, everything. It’s hard to compare if Scrum requires less budget than a different framework.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Doing Scrum as it’s intended helps you spend your budget wiser. It can help you pick products to fund, or where margins are higher. But please, don’t expect to save up on cash because you start with Scrum.

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