Scrum can be used for non-software projects

During a recent training I conducted I had a lot of IT Infrastructure Project Managers attend.   I got a lot of good feedback from the course but the most startling piece of feedback was they didn’t see how they could apply Agile and Scrum to IT Infrastructure – it seemed to be more applicable to software development was the common refrain.

This is simply not true and caught me a little bit off guard, not sure how to respond (hey it was the second time for this course we all learn a bit as we go).  I could empathize a little as the course did have a bit of XP content and the engineering practices aren’t applicable e.g. TDD (although there could be a role for Test Driven Configuration).

But what occurred to me after the course is at the end of it we did a simulation game called the Lego for Scrum.  In this game we built a Lego town using Scrum as our delivery framework.  Not one line of code in that exercise.  I should have thought of that at the time.  The simulation worked perfectly.  It highlighted the same dysfunctions that occur in real life projects such as under estimation, assumptions, communication inadequacies.  Doing it using Scrum allowed the team to inspect and adapt and things improved.  Transparency was achieved because the important artifact – the solution – was there for all to see.

Since then I’ve sought out other example of non-software Scrum projects.  By doing a google search you can find a few.  Jeff Sutherland’s article on building a car in one such example.

This is the beauty of lightweight frameworks like Scrum and Kanban (probably more so) is that it could be applied to any reasonable complex undertaking and even ones that may not seem that complicated (the Lego town for example).


Nick Zdunic



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