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I have this week certified as a Scrum master, after a two day course. And I will therefore like to share, some thoughts on, how I think Scrum can be implemented in SAP projects. I have no experience in project management except for at team level and being a participant in SAP projects.

Scrum is a framework designed for Agile projects. The article Scrum in 5 minutes, gives a pretty good understanding of the concepts. The basic idea is to make prototypes, add business value continues during the project and remove impediments.

The opposite of scrum is the waterfall method with separate phases for each task like specification, analysis, design, implementation, test and deployment. The waterfall model has some challenges.

  • The business or customers does not have a complete idea of what they need before the see how a model works. This result in change requests along the way, which is more expensive the later in the process they are found.
  • Features is requested that is never used a study published in xp2002 showed that 45% of features in software is never used.
  • It become more difficult to change or correct something, in the later stages of the project
  • During the test face everything has to work and then fixed and retested.
  • Hand over between the different faces requires a lot of documentation, which can be difficult for other persons to understand or requires a lot of time on creating.
  • The method assumes that we do not live in a complex environment, where changes does not occur.
  • Often has overrun in time, price or bad quality.

I would say that ASAP is a clear waterfall method, with a analysis, implantation, test and go live face. ASAP contains some accelerators and templates to assists in the implantation. ASAP therefore contains most of the challenges stated above.

Scrum acknowledge that it is not possible to plan everything into the future and is therefore using 2-4 weeks iterations, which each have to result in a “workable” product. A large part of the framework is dealing with how to prioritize the most imports features from a business value perspective. The target is to create hyper productive teams, which produce more business value per resource.

A study done in Systematic , a CMMI5 company (so they must know what they are doing), showed that it was possible to halve the project cost and provide better quality than a waterfall implementation with Scrum.

Scrum can probably not save the world of projects. Like all other frameworks Scrum has some challenges, which can cause problems with the implementation.

  • First of all organizations have to acknowledge they cannot plan feature the want in advance.
  • Many organizations leave parts of the framework out; this will not result in a ScrumBUT with a lower productivity.
  • The organization has to believe in the scrum approach and leave the groups alone in the sprints. If not it can result in lower production and a product which does not provide the correct business value.
  • Other revenue models have to be created for consultancies, to adopt Scrum instead of a high paying waterfall approach.

I’m currently trying to figure out which parts of Scrum, we can use as an Integration Team in an implementation project. It will result in a ScrumBUT, but it will hopefully provide some experiences on how projects can be managed, from a micro level.

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  1. Dagfinn Parnas
    *secret handshake*

    Recently I was on the same scrum master course, and Craig Larman mentioned that SAP was using Scrum internally to a high degree.

    It would be very interesting to hear about this from SAP themselves.

    Regards
    Dagfinn

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  2. Christiane Kuntz-Mayr
    Scrum projects at SAP started in November 2005. Since then the number of Scrum projects is increasing constantly. The first year of ScrumSAP was a pilot phase to figure out how ScrumSAP works and what is necessary to make Scrum@SAP a success. Projects in several development areas participated, hundreds of Scrum practitioners have been trained. Early Scrum pilot results led to a wide acceptance and proliferation of Scrum.

    Main benefits experienced with Scrum@SAP are:

    Earlier identification of risks by enhanced transparency which increases the likelihood of project success.
    Increased ability to cope with unclear or moving requirements and project scope.
    Increase of motivation in the teams because Scrum ensures continious learning and feedback, transparency on progress and intensive communication. Having clear roles but collective ownership increases team cohesion.

    A prerequisite to introduce Scrum@SAP is that management and team have to understand what Scrum is about. To know that the implementation of Scrum requires a changed attitude towards collaboration. The key to success is the willingness and commitment on this change. Therefore everybody involved has to attend an introduction to Scrum. Afterwards a descision is made to apply Scrum or not. If yes, deep dive training is provided.

    To ensure the success of implementing Scrum in a team a world-wide group of Scrum mentors supports the teams. In the beginning they are mentors to newly appointed Scrum Masters helping to manage the change. Scrum mentors are very experienced Scrum masters with some additional training mainly on aspects of team building, retrospectives and how to manage blocks and obstacles.

    Teams have described the support by Scrum mentors as very helpful especially when a particular project setup was given, e. g. globally distributed teams, prototyping or architecture projects. The Scrum mentors help to identify problems and may suggest changes in the term’s organization and setup, how to structure the project backlog etc. in order to deal with the particularities of such projects.

    Using Scrum for the first time is an adventure offering fun and success if implemented properly. Scrum teams need a Scrum-friendly environment. Therefore Scrum should be approached with curiosity and a great deal of entrepreneurship. Together they form a substrate on which Scrum can flourish.

    Christiane Kuntz-Mayr and Joachim Schnitter, Scrum Mentors at SAP 

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    1. Daniel Graversen
      Hi,

      Thanks for the introduction to how SAP runs Scrum. It is interesting to hear how Scrum can be implemented in a global organisation.

      Daniel

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    2. Regina Stein
      I’m looking for a Company that implemented SCRUM development methodology in SAP environment. We use waterfall now: too long & too expensive. So, need to find alternatives, but need a success story.

      Please, share any information you have. Thanks!

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  3. Koos Vosloo

    We are in the planning phase to make use of the Scrum approach at a passenger rail service company in SA. The implementation is for Enterprise Asset Management. The go forward approach will, for now, be to develop a full Blueprint and have it signed off. Then we intend to deploy the Scrum approach to Realisation, getting testing and sign off for each process as we go along.

    As it is out first time using this approach, I am pretty nervous and would like some comments from anyone out there that used this approach to implement a backend solution.

    Thanks

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