Practical Agile/Scrum for Better Project Management

Development teams often get stuck when they encounter real-life challenges that are not addressed by most formal Agile/Scrum training, especially when they try to implement Agile/Scrum in a traditional/Waterfall environment.

Some examples:

  • How do you handle a sponsor that wants regular “percentage complete” progress reporting and release schedules?  Isn’t Agile/Scrum supposed to free us of this reporting?
  • How can you deal with reliance on other groups/functions that still practice traditional or Waterfall project management?
  • My organization wants us to use formal risk assessment – isn’t that against the spirit of Agile?
  • My sponsor insists on the project fitting into a feasibility gating project framework. That doesn’t sound very Agile.
  • How can I coordinate multiple teams to deliver in a synchronized, smooth way?

In this content area, we share the top challenges encountered by Scrum teams and our best, proven solutions to deal with them.  Some examples and tips:

Scope Management 

  • Agile does not mean a scope free-for-all: create and manage a backlog instead.  Try creating a “Minimum Valuable Product” and take things out of your backlog that don’t create value.

Requirements – What really works?  

  • Most teams only need:  acceptance criteria, process/business flows, business rules and visuals – wireframes, mapping documents, value mapping.   What do you think you need and why?

Release Planning and Beyond 

  • Develop a roadmap showing leadership the underlying assumptions and delivery plan of work.  They’ll feel better and it will build trust.

Dependencies Outside of Your Team

  • Identify and place them on your roadmap – examples include: architecture, database etc.  Understanding the environment and the constraints within it are key.


  • Create a visual and update every month – Scrum will point out issues and risks – what will you do with this rich data?

In this content area, we cover:

  • How can I apply Agile concepts while working in an organization that uses traditional project management?
  • How to adapt Agile/Scrum tools
  • Scope Management - Agile does not mean scope free-for-all 
  • Requirements – High-level versus detailed, specific requirements.  What really works? How can we optimize the work in defining requirements? 
  • Release Planning and Beyond – creating clarity of the underlying assumptions and delivery a plan of work to give leadership confidence and build trust.
  • Identifying dependencies, especially when the functions you are working with are not using Agile/Scrum.
  • Risk Management – how to create and provide monthly updates without creating more work.
  • Optimizing 15-minute Scrum meetings to increase your effectiveness as a team.
  • Estimating – how to use units beyond just time, and increase your knowledge based on your actual results.
  • Status Reporting – When you estimate based on release, reporting can be easily translated into the more traditional ‘percentage complete’ status
  • Capacity Planning – use your history!  Create a time period so that you can reflect on all your team has learned and adjust based on your experience.
  • Set-up – evaluate the Scrum Framework and pick out an element of Scrum to improve.
  • Continuous Improvement – How to optimize retrospectives regularly and track your improvement success.
  • Change Management – Not all changes are created equally. How to create change management guidelines with a clear escalation path based on amount of deviation from scope, schedule, and cost.
  • The Gating Process – Agile backlog creation aligns perfectly with the Feasibility Gate Requirements.  Do work in Commitment to validate exactly how long it takes to create features of your product.
  • Quality Management – Involve your testers as early as possible.  Consider how you can ‘shift testing left’ aka starting testing earlier
  • Multiple team coordination – create an integrated roadmap where all work is understood, and meet regularly to discuss where teams might need help from each other. Hint: for every piece of work, identify what help you will need and who you are doing the work for.
  • User Stories and Definition of Done – use this to ensure that all team members have a common understanding what it means when work is completed.
  • How to boost the Agile/Scrum mindset in my organization, including at the leadership levels.
  • What are some concrete next steps that I can take and apply to my current working environment?


  • One-hour talk
  • Two day training workshop for Scrum Masters, Scrum Teams, Product Owners and Leadership
  • Consulting engagements to work side-by-side with you to improve your ability to deal with these challenges
  • Mentoring to keep you on course