The ScrumButt Test

Bas Voode designed a test with 7 or 8 items.  Jeff Sutherland and others liked it.  Jeff modified it some.  Eventually it became known as the ScrumButt Test. 

Bas developed the test originally to check whether a team was still really using Scrum or reverting back to waterfall.  Or, reverting to what I call Cowboy Agile (see wikipedia on cowboy coding). Or, Agilefall. 

The ScrumButt Test is in two parts.

First, are you doing Iterative Development?

  • Sprints must be time boxed to 4 weeks or less
  • Software features must be tested and working at the end of each iteration
  • Sprints start with an enabling specification

If you ask a lot of “Scrum” teams if they can pass this part of the test, they can’t. If you are at a conference, often not a single team in the room can pass.

The next part of the test checks whether you are doing Scrum:

  • You know who the product owner is
  • There is a product backlog prioritized (mainly) by business value
  • The product backlog has estimates (of effort) created by the team
  • The team generates burndown charts and knows their velocity
  • There are no project managers (or anyone else) disrupting the team

My reaction:

I think this is an excellent way to deal with Cowboy Agile or Agilefall.

Let me say this loud and clear: a firm can’t in good faith say “we tried Scrum” if they can’t pass this ScrumButt test. And pass it for a reasonable period of time. Of course, even if they did not do this, they might still say “we tried Scrum”.  But they did not.

We think that if you only do Scrum this ‘completely’, it will be hard not to have an impressive amount of success.

The ScrumButt Test is demanding. That is clear. A test of this nature is a necessary (if not sufficient) condition to professional agile. (Did we expect to get out of Fred Brooks’ tar pit by doing unprofessional work?)

There are some forces in a firm that want Cowboy Agile or Agilefall or want Agile to fail.  This is true in every firm I have worked in, I believe.  So, if you use the ScrumButt Test, expect to get some resistance.

The Test is arguably too minimal. There are many other important parts of Agile or Scrum that it does not cover. Are the things in the test the most important parts? My thought is that this collection of principles and practices provides the core of Agile/Scrum that will defend you from common dysfunctions. Not all. 

Is there a better test? Probably we could define one, but let’s pass the ScrumButt Test now.

Should the test be significantly more detailed?  I think not, for now.  We need the test to be simple enough to be comprehended easily by the people involved. It becomes self-policing.


What are your thoughts? Are you aware of similar tests? How does your firm limit Cowboy Agile or reversion to waterfall?



« « Kanban Ideas || Early Warning System » »

Leave a Reply