Scrum, the risk-reduction framework

by Francesco Pecoraro

Scrum does not clearly define any controls. Since Scrum is a risk-reduction framework, it already contains various risk controls. It is important to remember that Scrum is designed to solve complicated issues to reach project success.

Here is a list of controls that can reduce the risk of project failure by using Scrum:

  • Time-boxed events
  • Empirical process
  • Scrum Master
  • Definition of “Done”

Time-boxed events

The Scrum events are time-boxed, which means that they have a maximum duration.

If we consider a Sprint of 1 month, the Scrum events have the following durations:

  • Daily Scrum takes 15 minutes
  • Planning takes no more than 8 hours
  • Review takes no more than 4 hours
  • Retrospective takes no more than 3 hours

For shorter Sprints, the last three events listed above are generally shorter.

The Scrum events help the team plan the work. In addition, these moments are also crucial to inform the team about the problems that have to be solved. As a consequence, it will be possible to regularly improve processes by reflecting and pondering on what has been shared.

So, the Scrum events should be used to create consistency and to minimize the extra meetings not defined in Scrum.

By doing so, time-boxed events will reduce the chance of wasting time.

Empirical process

“The value-driven agile approach is based on empiricism.” Basically, It assumes that the requirements that exist upfront will change because they are not fixed. The empirical process uses the principles (pillars) of inspection, adaptation, and transparency.

Inspection: Scrum artifacts can be examined in a timely manner. This helps to evaluate the progress towards a goal and to detect unwanted variances.

Adaptation: Adaptation is about continuous improvement. It represents the capability to adapt based on the results of the inspection. Basically, adaptation means that the team keeps what is correct and change what is wrong. To decide what to do next, it is possible to use the results from inspections.

Transparency: Transparency makes visible the progress of work and the team. As a result, when the team achieves its goal, people who are responsible for it can be identified and appreciated for the work. Transparency should encourage everyone to strive and collaborate for a common goal.

Having the opportunity to increase transparency of the product value and the progress of work will help to decrease project risks.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring the team understands the Agile values and principles and uses the defined processes and practices.

In addition, the Scrum Master helps organizations and stakeholders understand the empirical product development. In fact, the Scrum Master has the duty to protect the Scrum framework and support the Scrum rules including, transparency.

Definition of “Done”

The definition of “Done” increases transparency because it reduces uncertainty related to the likelihood of undone work. In fact, it helps to measure progress clearly.

At the same time, a flawed Definition of “Done” could hinder the team’s ability to identify the undone work. The undone work could cause a lack of transparency.

As a consequence, due to this lack of transparency, project risks will increase. The definition of “Done” is very important to set the expected levels of quality and make them transparent.

Keep in mind

Scrum is considered a risk-reduction framework. Scrum contains controls that allow you both to reduce the risk of producing waste and the risk of lack of progress. Increasing transparency will reduce the risk of producing work of poor quality and low value. Basically, without transparency, it is not possible to manage risks. In fact, a lack of transparency can lead to poor quality, which can have a negative impact on the brand and revenue of a company.


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