Is your company infected with SCRUMBUT?

If you’ve been around SCRUM long enough you will be familiar with the term SCRUMBUT. SCRUM what? SCRUMBUT.

First off it makes me chuckle, it’s a great name.  Then my stomach churns.

“We use SCRUM… but…”

Memories of bad senior stakeholder initial meetings come flooding back… “We run Agile here, so we don’t create requirements”, “The guys just build whatever I tell them too” – OMG, SCRUMBUT.

So, what is SCRUMBUT, how can you identify it and what can you do to clean it up?

Well, today you’re in luck.  There are a couple of quick and simple tests you can run to identify what state of SCRUM-but you are in (I hope you’re fine but the odds aren’t in your favour!)scrumbut

Bas Vode, while working at NOKIA (the phone powerhouse of the 90’s) estimated SCRUMBUT is responsible for 90% of SCRUM implementations. That’s horrifying. But Nokia being ‘Nokia-the-great-engineers’ came up with a test to gauge if your project is infected with SCRUMBUT.

Answer… be truthful… the following questions.

The Bas Vode Nokia SCRUM But Test

This test is in two parts.

Part One

  • Are you doing Iterative Development?
  • Are iterations time boxed to less than 4 weeks?
  • Are ALL software features tested and working at the end of each iteration?
  • Do iterations start before specification is complete?

Starting to sweat my “SCRUM but” friend?

Don’t worry, my experience is that if you ask a lot of “Scrum” teams if they can pass this part of the test, they can’t.   If I ask this at a conference, I find that often not a single team in the room can pass.

Part Two

The next part of the Nokia test checks whether you are doing Scrum (in Nokia’s opinion):

  • Do you know who the product owner is?
  • Is there a product backlog that is prioritized by business value?
  • Does the product backlog have estimates created by the team?
  • Does the team generate burndown charts and clearly know their velocity?
  • Do project managers (or anyone else) disrupt the work of the team?

So are you sweating bullets or sitting pretty?

When I inherit a SCRUM project, the first thing I do is start to ask those questions from Bas (thanks Bas!).  I can gauge within seconds where any lurking issues may lie and start to take the relevant action to rectify.

So, next time you are with your team, of even right now, sitting in front of your screen or phone, ask yourself the above questions and quickly get a scope on your SCRUM But status.

There is a more in-depth set of questions developed by Jeff Sutherland (one of the original founders of SCRUM) so I will write about that methodology in the near future.

So, come on fess-up… comment below and tell the world if your SCRUM-BUT or not!

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