Scrum and Continuous Improvement

Organizations usually don’t adopt Scrum because they like its name. Instead, they have heard that software development is better if they use Scrum – quicker, cheaper, higher quality, more satisfied customers and employees. Sometimes things are so bad in software development that they try Scrum just because it wasn’t what they were doing before.

However, adopting Scrum, becoming more agile and improving software development, costs money. It requires training, tooling, coaching. These are all investments. Scrum does not come with a set of tools for managing these investments, measuring the resultant benefits, and optimizing return on investment.

For the last several years, I’ve been developing a framework for managing this investment. It is called the Continuous Improvement Framework (CIF, yes, another acronym). CIF provides a set of management tools for continuously improving an organization and becoming more agile. Your agility is measured by metrics that reflect business value. The value of these metrics reflects your stage of agility. The framework shows you how to organize to increasingly use best practices. The result is a progressive movement from one stage of agility to the next.

CIF lays out modern, widely-accepted practices that, as adopted, progressively improve organizational return on software investment. These practices are grouped by management domain, with each domain accountable for progressive, measureable improvement. The progression of practices and the resultant improved metrics is the “signature” of each organizations progressive improvement.

CIF is under development, as I presented at Scrum Day Europe in Amsterdam in early July, 2012. Over the next six months, I will be working with several partners to validate, extend, test, and refine it. We will collaboratively increase its utility, flexibility, and value. I will post more about it here as  and our partners progress.

18 thoughts on “Scrum and Continuous Improvement

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  2. For a small development project the PM and SM may be the same person. However, for larger projects, the project may include multiple Scrum teams and the PM is responsible for the total development effort of multiple teams in addition to other non-developmental teams such as procurement, human resources, financial, contracts, logistics, etc. In this more general situation, the PM could not be an effective Scrum Master.

  3. From my experience, it’s better have different people as PM vs SM. since the focus of these two roles are quite different. PM should be more strategic on program priority, resource, financial, etc. Scrum Master is more focus on the team. What we did, is to have project manager managing more projects because of the reduced work load. Same goes to Scrum Master.
    On the other hand, it works very well for me to have some one from the team taking the SM role, when the team is small.

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  6. Ken – good luck with refining CIF, I hope it dings the world. You dinged my world with your Scrum course for the Financial Times many years back: since then the world has embraced Agile for sure, but you were the one who first woke in me the realisation that it is not necessary to be a victim of Process, and that less process is rationally and defendably better. Until then I had been passive-aggressively resenting the life-sucking drain of pointless deliverables, without having a framework of defence. It’s turned out to be more than that though, it has tilted the world to make the tide of crap flow back the other way. I now skip down the beach. Thank you so much..

    • Too funny. Thanks for your honesty and giving some of us old warriers a good laugh because what you say is so true!! 🙂 I agree. Go Ken Go with the CIF initiative!

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    • Ken,
      Thank you for publishing these thoughts, at the moment there are a couple of other competing frameworks, SAF and DAD, that have a following. Hopefully we in the Agile/Scrum world can some together for defining a view that is free to learn, use and follow.

  9. Ken,
    Best of luck with CIF, hopefully it takes hold and gathers a following before a “AfileFall” or “AgileFail” process floods the market.

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