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Exploring ScrumBut—An empirical study of Scrum anti-patterns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Early online date14 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Abstract The wide-spread adoption of the agile movement has rapidly changed the landscape of software industry. In particular, Scrum is an agile process framework that has become extremely popular in industry. However, the practical implementation of Scrum in companies rarely follows the text book ideals, as companies often deviate from the proposed Scrum practices for various reasons. While some deviations may be well motivated and reasonable, companies can also be tempted to adjust Scrum for the company without clearly understanding the consequences of the deviations. In this paper our aim is to identify ways of potentially harmful mishandling of Scrum in industry based on empirical data collected in semi-structured interviews involving 18 teams in 11 companies. The (mal)practices that were identified at least in three different teams are presented in a semi-formal manner as anti-patterns. The study resulted in 14 anti-patterns that express the context of the deviation, the deviation itself, the broken core principles of Scrum, and the possible consequences of the deviation. In addition, where available, we have included company recommendations regarding the deviations. Furthermore, we identify potential risk areas in Scrum based on an analysis of the relationships between anti-patterns and Scrum concepts.


  • Software development, Scrum, Anti-patterns, Empirical study

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland