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What are the biggest challenges with Scrum in 2024?


Ah, Scrum. Few things divide the software development community quite like it. But when Scrum is in the hot seat, Scrum enthusiasts are quick to say that if it doesn’t work for you, you’re just not doing it right. 

The thing is, they’ve got a point. The biggest threat to Scrum is bad Scrum. And, considering how prescriptive Scrum is, there are quite a few challenges teams may come across.

So, how do we avoid Scrum pitfalls? To get a glimpse into what these challenges are, we surveyed 30 Scrum practitioners (from Scrum Masters to Product Owners to Developers) and asked a few questions to uncover the biggest challenges with Scrum in 2024. 

Their responses gave us a ton of insight into what to avoid and how to run Scrum more effectively so your team can focus on getting the benefits of Scrum–including building better products, continuous improvement, sped-up development, and more. Sound like a dream? Keep reading for the key takeaways, and download the full survey report above.

Dedicated, skilled Scrum Masters are a major key to success

Scrum Masters save teams from bad Scrum

One of the biggest takeaways from this survey is that having a dedicated Scrum Master can seriously save teams from many issues with Scrum. Scrum Masters implement processes, evaluate how the team works together, ensure the Scrum framework is followed and effective, and coach the team on best practices. More importantly, they’re the ones on the team who know the rules of Scrum well enough to break them (within reason).

So, what happens when someone on the team doesn’t have this skill set? One respondent told us: “The challenge we faced was that none of us knew how to do it properly, so we were winging it and not being super strict about it. This made it more confusing for everyone, and we all felt like no progress was being made.”

“Not knowing what we’re doing” is a familiar challenge teams express without a dedicated Scrum Master. Additionally, not having a Scrum Master causes work to pile up for other team members and Scrum practices to become deprioritized. As another respondent describes, “One of the challenges created is that there’s juggling of responsibility because we don’t have one defined person–so the Engineering Manager might not want to take time out to plan this because there’s an opportunity cost to their time.”

Scrum Masters don’t always feel valued

Considering the need for Scrum Masters, you would think dedicated Scrum Masters would feel highly valued. Despite this, 40% of Scrum Masters mentioned they had challenges showing their value to their organization and are concerned that others don’t see it. 

So, what’s contributing to this? “The value of a Scrum Master may be overlooked or underestimated if there is a perception that their role is solely administrative,” says one Scrum Master–echoing a sentiment shared by many others. 

“This can make it challenging to showcase the value that a Scrum Master brings in terms of facilitating effective teamwork, removing impediments, and ensuring the successful implementation of Scrum,” he explains. 

So, why should we care that we undervalue Scrum Masters? For one thing, an organization may use it as justification for not having a dedicated Scrum Master–a cause of the bad Scrum we mentioned earlier. 

It could also justify overloading Scrum Masters with additional roles and responsibilities, rendering them less effective. This was the case for one Scrum Master: “Juggling multiple roles as the Scrum Master makes it hard to focus on making sure that the process runs smoothly–it always felt like my attention was pulled to other things.” 

– Clearly define who is taking on the Scrum Master role. Consider rotating the role if there is no dedicated Scrum Master.
– Avoid conflicts of interest like a Product Owner being a Scrum Master.
– Invest in ongoing Scrum training for your team members, especially your dedicated Scrum Masters.
– Use Agile reporting tools to track metrics that can showcase the value of a Scrum Master, like velocity, cycle time, lead time, etc.

There’s a misconception that Scrum is “too much overhead”

Resistance to Scrum is usually resistance to “overhead” 

It’s impossible to run effective Scrum when there’s pushback. So, we asked respondents what the most significant reason for pushback is regarding Scrum. The number one? The perception that it comes with too much overhead–33% of respondents mentioned this perception. From responses, “overhead” refers to Scrum events and task management. 

“I’ve had the experience several times where a teammate, or even myself, feels like Scrum is too much overhead when we really need to be moving and shipping quickly,” one respondent says. 

“People push against adding Scrum ceremonies,” another respondent added. But, just because events are required, does it mean they waste time? Most say no–53% of respondents said that Scrum events are necessary and contribute positively to delivering better software.

Events need to be implemented carefully 

Scrum Masters play an essential role in enabling helpful and non-invasive Scrum events. This includes time blocking, ensuring team members are on-topic and engaged, and coming prepared. 

One respondent explains, “They all have value as long as they don’t lose their purpose. For example, the daily standup meeting can easily lose value if you start problem-solving or deep-diving into issues.” Going over time is a key issue with events and is typically caused by “going off-topic.” 27% of respondents called out daily standups and retrospectives as being the biggest (perceived) waste of time and the events most likely to go over time. 


– Leverage automation and AI in Scrum processes wherever possible. In Zenhub, AI can be used to generate acceptance criteria and Issue labels. We’ve also seen Agile coaches using ChatGPT to write user stories and solve challenges with Scrum.
– Use tools built for Scrum. Tools that don’t already have features like story point estimation and sprint planning can cause much additional overhead and frustration.

Good Scrum is all about balance between rigidity and flexibility

Scrum that’s too rigid is ineffective

Teams have varying needs–maybe timezones are an issue for daily standups, or the team composition doesn’t lend itself to needing everyone in a backlog meeting. Because of this, overly rigid Scrum that doesn’t take unique team dynamics into account can quickly gain the perception that it requires “too much overhead,” frustrating teams.

47% of respondents mentioned that the biggest challenge to rigid adherence to Scrum is feeling constrained by events. However, a solution exists: “I’ve worked with Scrum Masters who have adapted the framework to suit the team’s preferences. For example, shortening some ceremonies and blending others have saved time and boosted our focus on actual product development,” says one respondent.

Shortening events is something Daria Bagina, founder of ScrumMastered, recommends instead of removing an event entirely. “But, before you shorten the events, figure out why they feel like a waste of time. Most of the time, a simple change in how you run your Scrum events changes everything,” she tells us. She suggests having clear meeting agendas for Scrum events and always coming prepared with discussion topics to keep participants on-topic.

Note–You can download the full report for more recommendations on altering events and managing Scrum-related overhead. 

Scrum that’s too flexible doesn’t work either 

While a great Scrum Master can identify a team’s needs and alter Scrum to make things “click,” allowing for too much flexibility in the Scrum framework can be detrimental. As one respondent warns us, “When not following it [Scrum] closely, things get missed, causing a lot of rework, which frustrates the team.” Other respondents acknowledged that overly flexible Scrum also caused developers not to know what to prioritize when work is blocked. 

The biggest takeaway from these examples is the need for a balanced approach to adopting Scrum. 20% of respondents mentioned the importance of a flexible approach that allows teams to adapt Scrum to their specific context while still following the core principles.

Zenhub Daily Feeds, which give an overview of what everyone’s working on and what their blockers are, can act as “meeting notes” for a daily scrum meeting and can even replace or partially replace these meetings.
– Only making adaptations to Scrum, like reducing or removing events, after having mastered running sprints the traditional way.
– Teams should have a deep understanding of the “why” behind each Scrum event before making adaptations to those events.

Final thoughts

In wrapping up our exploration of the challenges facing Scrum practitioners in 2024, it’s clear that while Scrum can revolutionize software development processes, its success hinges on proper execution and a deep understanding of its principles. From managing overhead to finding a balance between flexibility and rigidity in the Scrum framework, the common thread is the need for a dedicated and knowledgeable leader to navigate the complexities of the framework. For most teams, this lies with the Scrum Master. Because of this, undervaluing this role can seriously harm Scrum teams in the long run. 

Ultimately, the journey to “good Scrum” is one of continuous learning, adaptation, and respect for the framework’s core values and principles. By addressing the highlighted challenges head-on and investing in great Scrum Masters, teams can unlock the full potential of Scrum.

Curious as to how to reduce scrum-related overhead? Book a demo of Zenhub with one of our experts who can show you how it’s done.

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