3 Keys to Adapting Scrum Beyond Software Development

August 14, 2012

Scrum may be most widely associated with software development, but there’s no reason it can’t be utilized across any industry.

As Alex Brown, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Owner at Scrum Inc. explains in this short video, nothing about Scrum is unique to software. While it was first widely adopted in the creative team environment of software development, adapting Scrum to other environments is easy and effective.

According to Brown, there are three things to consider when adapting Scrum to your own unique environment:

  1. What’s the right sprint length to use? Most software companies choose somewhere between 1-2 weeks for their sprints, because it’s generally easy to create a meaningful increment in the product in that amount of time. That may not be the case if you’re working in hardware, for example, in which case you might need to work with longer sprints. That said, you don’t want to incorporate so much time that you lose your sense of urgency, Brown warns.
  2. What is the product? In software, it’s relatively straight-forward, but in other environments and industries “product” may need to be defined.
  3. What team functions are necessary to complete a sprint? In software, the roles are typically developers, testers, etc. In other environments, roles and the relationships between them may be more complex. A challenge can be getting all the people necessary to accomplishing a meaningful increment onto one team that can utilize Scrum effectively.



<strong>Alex Brown</strong> is a partner at <a href="">Recon Strategy</a>. Prior to this role, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Scrum Inc., a firm specializing in agile strategy and rapid new product innovation. Before that Alex spent 6 years at BCG, where he was a leader in the healthcare and consumer strategy practice areas. His engagements included re-envisioning high performance network design for a major national PBM; and designing a "nudge unit" leveraging consumer psychology to improve patient outcomes for a leading retail pharmacy. Prior to BCG, Alex led demand forecasting of complex transportation networks for major public investments. Alex graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. and Masters in Engineering, and earned an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.