Use Scrum and Agile to reduce bugs

This is a true story, a case study reported from - drumroll - Adobe™, the global software vendor behind Photoshop®, Illustrator® and many quality applications used by millions everyday.

A bunch of Adobe teams started using Scrum in 2005 with the goal to get to releasable quality each four week sprint throughout the course of an 18 month release.

While Scrum felt much better to the team, which in itself constituted a perfectly valid reason to keep using it, managers in the organization asked the team for some hard data about any improvements or achievements deriving from Scrum practices.

That’s tough to get, since many of the things tracked prior to using scrum didn’t make sense to track anymore. One exception was the total number of open bugs at any given point in project. The team compared the bug count per release before and after the adoption of Scrum and saw and reduction of the 70% after adopting Agile processes. 70%!

On a constant, repeatable basis, the software development team was able to inject a new measure of quality into the code base as a result of the improved communication flow, better defined responsibilities and discrete planning through smaller, manageable sprints.

Software Developers felt a stronger sense of satisfaction in their work. Nobody wants to build a shoddy product – scrum tends to give teams permission to do the right thing even in the face of pressure to go faster.

Product Managers got more satisfied with the product quality and features and can provide better feedback on the actual features rather than just defects.

Executives get higher revenue at a lower cost.

Scrum is often described as an empirical framework, meaning that it provides transparency with frequent opportunities to inspect and adapt. Delivering working products and services early creates a cultural shift from predicting to testing hypotheses in the market. This shift to an empirical approach significantly reduces power imbalance between the managers and the teams. It creates a new mindset of “let’s try it out and see what we learn”, rather than a mindset of “I made this prediction, you’d better make it happen”.

Effective teams voice and work through differing opinions about how to get work done, but do so in a way that focuses on the problem to be solved, not the people solving the problem. Scrum tends to emphasize this approach, leading to higher engagement, team satisfaction, and better business results.

Alfred Dierk, Agile Coach

11 Jul 2016