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Questions about Scrum

Everything you always wanted to know about Scrum

What are the advantages of Scrum?

Scrum relies on self-organized teams because it brings responsibility and the ability to act where the relevant information is understood. Self-organized teams therefore meetbetter decisionsand find more effective solutions.

The most important tools for the work of self-directed Scrum teams istransparency and Inspect & Adapt: Using the fixed timing of feedback loops, Scrum creates reliable and systemic learning across all levels of product development: functional, technical and procedural. The responsibility for these levels of reflection is assigned to fixed roles (product owner, development team, scrum master) and events (review, daily scrums, retrospectives). He willcontinuous improvement process (CIP).


What exactly are the tasks of the Scrum Master?

The Scrum Master is responsible for the process. He ensures that learning takes place at all levels of development (professional, technical and procedural). He pursues this with the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of the team in the interests of the customer and achieves this in particular by reflecting the team's behavior in an empathic and reliable manner, ensuring transparency of the work processes and stimulating the team to reflect on their own behavior. He helps the team in its group dynamic development and supports it in removing obstacles.

The Scrum Master thus has a leadership role without the authority to issue instructions, which means that he follows the modern management approach of "leading by serving" (Servant Leadership).

What exactly are the duties of the product owner?

The product owner is responsible for the economic success of the product or service. He takes care of the definition of the technical requirements from the customer's point of view and prioritizes them in the order of their business value. To this end, he keeps an eye on: the business model, the customers, the market and the technologies. He involves relevant stakeholders in his decisions in such a way that their requirements are adequately taken into account and they remain informed about the development progress.

When defining the requirements, the product owner usually works closely with the development team in order to maximize the mutual understanding of planned requirements.

Why do I need a certification as a Scrum Master or Product Owner?

A certification serves the purpose of third parties so that the certified person has received training with a known quality standard. Certification can therefore help to make the competencies for a desired position credible to third parties in a simple form and therefore promotes trust. The knowledge itself can of course be obtained through many channels and media such as training without certification, books and coaching, etc.

What will happen to the project manager when we introduce Scrum?

There is no general answer to that because there are different ways and solutions. Project managers are often used in the role of product owner. However, this means that they only overlap with previous areas of responsibility to a limited extent; mostly this is the technical level as well as the communication with the Stakelholders and with the development team. If the project manager was previously a manager who provided guidance and made decisions, the product owner is now part of a self-organized team with dedicated role responsibilities without a management mandate.

An overlap with areas of responsibility of the Scrum Master can also exist, so that he helps the team to organize itself, is responsible for the process and supports the team in removing obstacles. But then there is always the risk that the team's self-organization will not get going because the project manager will fall back into his old leadership role and, for example, make decisions himself instead of moderating decision-making in the team. But there are also contexts in which the team is so large or the organization is so complex that a project manager is still required, who represents an external interface of the team in addition to the product owner and provides the framework conditions for the team, but should not interfere with you .

Does Scrum also work for fixed price projects?

Yes, Scrum can also be used in fixed price constellations. However, one then does not exhaust the full potential of Scrum, which consists of recognizing and addressing deviations from an expected project process early on. Complete advance planning is time-consuming and entails all the associated uncertainties. Nevertheless, with Scrum in the fixed-price project you get a helpful, because realistic project progress, in order to be able to take countermeasures if the project threatens to get out of hand.

If it is essential to have a fixed price, then the so-calledagile fixed price To worry about. This provides for the ability to swap requests that have not yet been completed for new, unexpected requests in the course of the project without changing the price.

What requirements does an organization need for Scrum to work?

One of the basic requirements for a Scrum implementation is the support of senior management. Because before Scrum leads to positive effects such as adherence to deadlines and effectiveness, it will first lead to transparency of possible inconsistent processes, the elimination of which can also affect areas outside the Scrum team. This requires a management that advocates the agile journey and supports the consequences of self-organization so that it can establish alignment for the entire company.

Other success factors include stable development teams in which employees feel that they belong and are psychologically secure. Furthermore, clarity about the Scrum roles must be brought about and the Product Owner should be staffed in such a way that he: Can make quick decisions without having to go through complex coordination processes.

In addition to these rather rough recommendations, the inner attitude of all those involved is critical. Scrum entails a change of perspective for everyone involved, because Scrum involves changes that require a clear inner compass. This requires an agile mindset based on agile values ​​and principles.

What is the best way to introduce Scrum?

A good orientation for the introduction of Scrum is the 8-stage model for change projects according to Kotter. In a first step, upper management should convey to all those involved why (urgent reason) and for what (expected effect) a change such as the introduction of Scrum is intended. As a result, sponsors of this project should be invited to the first scrum team that serves as a pilot. The successes and learning progress of this pilot project are then continuously communicated by the management within the organization. This should also happen if the entire organization does not work in an agile manner in the future, because the pilot team usually has dependencies on non-agile departments, where there will be questions about the interfaces.

After the pilot project, the organization is faced with the question of how to proceed with Scrum in the further course. If the pilot project was successful, Scrum can be gradually extended to other departments. In addition, it can make sense to use the members of the pilot project as multipliers in the new teams.

What is the next step once I've implemented Scrum?

If Scrum has been introduced for a product or service and the Scrum roles have been filled, this usually means that the Scrum events (Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Retrospective) are established as regular dates every 2-4 weeks. It can make sense to initially only start with dailies and the retrospective and to add the other meetings after an introductory phase in order to gain clarity about which meetings of the previous structure are still or no longer needed.As a result, the team should gain clarity about this what effects it wants to achieve with Scrum. Agile fluency diagnostics are suitable for gaining a common picture of this. It helps the team to formulate development goals and what should be done in team development for them. Development goals could be, for example, to increase adherence to deadlines, improve forecasting, increase quality or improve customer satisfaction. In addition to the measures from the retrospectives, agile practices such as test-driven development, refactoring, continuous integration or pair programming can be introduced for this purpose.

If Scrum runs successfully in the development projects, the interfaces to adjacent areas should be considered. This can lead to the decision to integrate upstream or downstream processes into the area of ​​responsibility of the Scrum team or to organize the areas according to Scrum as well.

Is Scrum compatible with sequential development methods such as the V-model or the waterfall model?

Sequential development methods such as the V-model / waterfall model and agile methods such as Scrum / Kanban are based on fundamentally different approaches: sequential development methods are document-driven, while agile methods are effect-driven. This difference leads to such different organizational structures as the matrix organization in the former case and more modern organizational structures such as the peach model of a sociocratic circle organization in the latter. This is the consequence of Conway's Law, which states that the external structure of an organization is the mirror of its internal communication structure.

So how should work at the interfaces between agile and sequential teams be organized? This question arises for cooperation within the same company as well as with external service providers. In the first case, interfaces are typically resolved according to the degree of dependency, because large dependencies are normally associated with long delays in the value chain. The scrum team will try to take on tasks themselves and thereby their own Definition of done expand. The Definition of done the amount of non-technical and recurring tasks that a Scrum team can do itself from the request to the delivery.

In the case of a dependency on sequentially working external service providers who insist on fixed-price contracts, an agile contract in the form of a agile Fixed price. This provides that requirements that have not yet been completed can be exchanged for new, unexpected requirements in the course of the project without changing the price, with the advantage of being able to take countermeasures early on if the project threatens to get out of hand.

When are other methods better suited than Scrum?

Scrum is primarily a management framework for dealing with uncertainty. In this context, uncertainty can mean not knowing exactly which requirements for users create the greatest added value or because there is uncertainty about which technology is most suitable for this. As a rule, every form of knowledge work falls into this sector, especially IT. The reason for this is the extremely dynamic user behavior on the one hand and the extremely rapid technological development on the other. There are few standards that have shown constancy in this sector over many years.

Requirements are often referred to asred work referred to, while requirements that are subject to little change with blue work are designated. If the work is red, the focus should be on effectiveness ("do the right things"), while blue work should focus on efficiency ("do things right"). Every company always has mixed forms of red and blue work.

While there is agreement among experts that Scrum is an effective tool for red work, its application to blue work is not fundamentally wrong; but usually leads to unnecessary overhead. For this reason, it can be more efficient to proceed with sequential methodology in corporate areas with predominantly blue work, for example because there is undisputed agreement about the effectiveness of the chosen implementation. In any case, with mixed forms, the dependency of red and blue areas should be minimized because it leads to waiting times.

Companies that manage to successfully run blue and red developments in parallel are considered to be ambidextrous (two-handed), e.g. if you successfully develop and sell technologies / products / services of the past (exploitation) as well as the future (exploration).

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