Scrum in Trouble? No, It’s the Engineering.

There seems to be a small but loud group of agilists proclaiming that Scrum is dead or dying. I’d guess that many of them declared that waterfall is dead at an earlier time. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

I think many of the Scrum critics have an agenda. They either have a vested interest in another approach like RUP or Kanban, or they are “experts” looking for media attention.

Let’s start with waterfall software development. It is alive and well, particularly within major corporations. I say ‘well’ in the sense that waterfall is widely used and even succeeds often enough to remain viable.

Sadly, one of the primary reasons for its ‘success’ is low expectations. Many have come to accept that software development is slow, late, defective and expensive. With expectations so low, it is relatively easy to succeed.

But I digress. The point is that waterfall lives on and even prospers in a sense.

As for Scrum, it has met with considerable success. It is relatively simple to understand and adopt. It is also easy to customize and that’s where the problems begin.

Many teams using what they call Scrum have modified waterfall to make it Scrum-like. They may call their software development approach, Scrum, but it’s not. The inevitable clash between agile and waterfall occurs and Scrum gets the blame for being hard to do well.

The truth is that software development is difficult regardless of the methodology used. Scrum is not in trouble. Software engineering is in trouble.

In the end, people make the difference. People succeed or fail — not projects and not processes.

Updated: December 31, 2010 — 5:10 pm