What’s the SWOT on Scrum?

I was asked for my SWOT analysis of Scrum.

First, I recalled a mark my thesis advisor Otto Strack made on a paper I’d written. He wrote DUA. When asked about the mark Dr. Strack said, “Don’t Use Abbreviations”.

Next, I searched Wikipedia to find that SWOT analysis is a planning method to evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

I don’t claim to be the Sultan of Swat, but here is my SWOT analysis of Scrum:


  • Scrum is product-centric;
  • Incremental progress is easily measurable and clearly visible to business stakeholders;
  • Developers set the pace, are not overworked, and enjoy an increased role;
  • Workload is infinitely adjustable, based on team-set capacity and business-set priorities;
  • Issues are usually uncovered before they become endemic;
  • Team is given authority to make decisions;
  • Team is encouraged to “consult” with business;
  • Tasks tend to be granular, and therefore, more readily testable;
  • Team develops a get-it-done attitude;
  • Team is implicitly encouraged to behave like a start-up; and
  • The approach challenges organizational standards.


  • Scrum projects without an active Product Owner and without engaged business stakeholders will likely flop;
  • If the Product Owner doesn’t appreciate Scrum, or doesn’t understand the role of Product Owner, success is harder;
  • If the Product Owner doesn’t work with stakeholders to keep backlog full with challenging functionality, developers get complacent and disengaged so productivity goes down;
  • If the Product Owner doesn’t attend to or appreciate technical debt articulated by the team, technical issues can fester;
  • If developers not co-located or within earshot of the Product Owner and business stakeholders, productivity will suffer ;
  • Silo-ing of knowledge can grow if ScrumMaster not attentive and team does not self-correct;
  • Sprint retrospectives are wasteful if team is not forthright and constructively self-critical; and
  • The approach challenges organizational standards.


  • For product-driven organizations, Scrum is a way to revolutionize how you do business. That is, to increase productivity and to inspire commitment;
  • Scrum features demonstrable progress realized through frequent, incremental production releases (Sprints). As such, it is ideal for start-ups trying to attract and maintain investors;


  • Threats are most likely to emerge from outside the team;
  • Compliance and legal issues in large organizations are always looming (e.g., legal team needs to review content);
  • Security issues in large organizations are big because work product requires a security review;
  • Jealously from non-scrum teams can be a threat;
  • If an organization is not fully “Agile”, or not all using Scrum, there’s a perception that the Scrum team gets to do the best projects.
  • Compensation issues can occur because internal team-members, or contracted team-members, typically do not work for the person giving their salary review or impacting their hourly rate;
  • Revolutionary change does not suit all people in the organization; and
  • Some organizations are not patient enough to realize the advantages of Scrum.

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