How to Optimize Scrum in 8 Easy Steps!

For teams that have adopted the Scrum framework, it's easy to see the value it brings to teams velocity and organization. From breaking down complex projects into manageable stories, improving visibility in daily scrums, and enhancing team communication in retrospectives, Scrum is a great way for teams to work as a cohesive unit to get projects done. 

However, there are several common pitfalls many Scrum teams fall into that prevents them from using the framework to it's full potential. Fixing these errors only requires small changes, but will drive significant improvements to your teams velocity, communication, and quality of work. 

Follow these 8 simple steps will maximize the value your team gets out of Scrum. 

1.) To fully optimize scrum, keep teams small

More than 5-6 people on a team makes communication hard.

2.) Keep teams stable

Try to rotate people no more than once every 6 sprints or so. Unstable teams means unstable velocity and makes progress much harder to predict.

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3.) Plan slack time into your iteration

If you schedule all your available time, what happens when an emergency comes up?

4.) Track time spent on emergency work

If you are spending half your sprint fixing production issues, maybe you need to tackle some underlying problems before building new features.

5.) Track your actual velocity

To optimize the value your team gets out of scrum, you have to track your true velocity so you can appropriately plan. If you only got 2 points done because you spent half the sprint fixing bugs, your velocity is 2. Don’t stop tracking velocity because it’s lower than you like, or be tempted to adjust the story points for stories that took longer than expected.

6.) Track your capacity

If a bunch of people are out on vacation, your velocity is going to go down. Note capacity as well as velocity for past sprints so you can sign up to an achievable amount of work.

7.) Demo stories to your Product Owner when they are done

Don’t wait until the end of the sprint to demo a story - you’ll waste time context switching if there are changes to be made. Get fast feedback as soon as you can.

8.) Retrospect at the end of every sprint

What could you improve next sprint? One of the key elements every team need to truly optimize scrum is to utilize retrospectives. Use your retrospectives to give constructive feedback after each sprint to help team members improve. Make sure your Action Items have dates and owners.

Key Takeaways

Want to learn more ways to use Scrum to it's full potential? Optimizing your Sprint Retrospectives is a great way to ensure your team is consistently improving each sprint. Our free guide provides tactical steps to prep and run retrospectives that will drive real results to your team.

facilitating-retrospectives**Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.