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2017-2018 State of Scrum Report Published

| by Ben Linders Follow 28 Followers on Jan 25, 2018. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes |

The top priority for executives is to deliver value. Once companies have implemented agile, customer satisfaction is the most improved metric. Necessity is driving agile transformations within companies with inflexible protocols, and command-and-control leadership can’t compete in the modern world. Scrum itself is adapting, and companies that are evolving are using it in ways that work for their unique corporate and cultural needs.

The 2017-2018 State of Scrum Report explores trends in Scrum adoption, use, and scaling. The yearly survey is done by the Scrum Alliance; the 2017-18 report shows results from 2000+ participants from 91 countries representing more than 27 different industries.

InfoQ interviewed Lisa Hershman, interim CEO of the Scrum Alliance, about what executives expect that agile and Scrum will bring them and what makes it succeed or fail, what is driving the agile transformations in organizations and how effective these transformations are, real-world application of agile, and what they learned from running this survey and how this will impact Scrum and the Scrum Alliance.

InfoQ: What are the major changes in the State of Scrum 2017–2018 report compared to previous reports?

Lisa Hershman: In the 2017 report, we saw that Scrum was expanding its reach and extending into business sectors that were far removed from its roots in IT. One of our main objectives for the 2017-2018 report was to focus on broader agile transformation, looking at nuances within different industries that impacted corporate and regional applications of Scrum.

In this report, we saw companies taking the plunge and adapting the Scrum framework to support their agile transformation in ways that worked for their unique corporate and cultural needs. For instance, we’re seeing a lot of companies using scaling frameworks to help make Scrum work for them. Implementing Scrum on a large or even enterprise level is on the rise this year, and we’re also seeing Scrum being used outside of IT to support wholesale, organization-wide transformations.

I’m excited about this, because it means that Scrum is meeting its own goals. It’s adapting and evolving; it’s responding to change.

InfoQ: What do executives expect that agile and Scrum will bring them?

Hershman: Executives understand that in an unrelentingly dynamic corporate landscape, companies have to respond rapidly and resiliently to change. That’s why more and more of them are adopting the agile mindset and using Scrum.

We found that the top value for executives starting Scrum-based projects is delivering value to the customer. About three-quarters of executives say that customer satisfaction takes priority. The ability to be flexible and responsive is another big factor.

This understanding at the executive level is critical to broader Scrum adoption. This year we asked all our respondents what their most important considerations were when adopting Scrum, and nearly 60% told us that active senior management support was paramount. We also saw a high number of respondents levering Scrum’s ability to align with their company’s strategic and financial goals, building on Scrum’s orientation toward helping each company fulfill its unique mission.

InfoQ: Do organizations get the expected benefits? What is it that makes Agile and Scrum succeed or fail?

Hershman: Yes, organizations that faithfully implement Scrum and adopt the agile principles so that they become part of the culture have seen incredible results. But it’s not always an easy or simple change. There were scaling issues for about half of the companies that answered our survey, which may account for the rising adoption of scaling Scrum practices.

More than that, it can be helpful to have additional support when implementing Scrum. The three biggest sources of tension between Scrum teams and their organizations are:

  1. Management’s adherence to command-and-control leadership
  2. An overarching resistance to change
  3. A lack of overall understanding or support

You can’t institute a paradigm shift without help from people who have been there and can coach your team along.

We’ve seen that allowing multiple options for in-house or online training has helped companies adapt to Scrum. Over 90% of respondents said organizations now offer Scrum training and coaching, and the companies that take advantage of this kind of support have seen the results they were hoping for when they decided to try Scrum. This framework works.

InfoQ: What is driving the agile transformations in organizations?

Hershman: The alternative to agile just doesn’t work. Companies that continue with inflexible protocols and command-and-control leadership just can’t compete in the modern world. Necessity is driving agile transformation.

InfoQ: How effective are these transformations?

Hershman: The survey indicates that these have been remarkably effective. We’ve learned that almost all our respondents — 97% — would certainly continue to use Scrum in the future, so we know it’s working.

In this survey, we measured the success of these transformations across a variety of metrics: improved product satisfaction, faster time to market, higher product quality, and improved staff morale all improved measurably post-transformation. It was valuable to see that improved customer satisfaction, executives’ top concern in undertaking a Scrum project, was the most improved metric once companies decided to go agile.

It’s also worth noticing that 85% of respondents said that Scrum improved their overall corporate quality of life, which is so important for those of us who spend so many of our waking hours at work.

InfoQ: The 2017-2018 report contains sidebar stories that explore real-world application of Scrum and Agile. What are these stories about?

Hershman: I loved the addition these stories provided to our report. They speak to the unique, human dimension of Scrum. In each of these sidebars, you can read about how different companies are orienting Scrum practices across a wide array of industries.

Some of these are sectors where you wouldn’t expect to find Scrum, like a mental health clinic in Australia that invites patients to give feedback to doctors and psychologists during their own treatment. Another is GovTech in Singapore, which facilitates private sector collaboration with government initiatives — which has meant improvements in citizen’s daily lives ranging from better bus routes to wider availability of emergency defibrillators. The successes illustrated in these stories prove that Scrum really can work for any industry, in any region of the globe.

InfoQ: What did you learn from running this survey? How will that impact Scrum and the Scrum Alliance?

Hershman: We learned that we can expect Scrum to continue to grow in the years ahead. Our survey process itself speaks to that fact: we went out and collected responses from 2,000 individuals across the globe, and we saw results that were consistent from continent to continent and industry to industry. Agile and Scrum can work for anyone, anywhere.

At Scrum Alliance®, we are expanding our education and certification offerings to reflect the projected growth of Scrum and scaling frameworks as highlighted by this survey. We’ll be releasing more on these new initiatives in the months to come.

Meanwhile, it’s been exciting to see the reaction to this set of questions. This year’s survey really reinforces that this world of agile transformation actually is a world — and that the members of Scrum Alliance are part of something big.

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