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Using Scrum and Agile development well for small mixed-discipline teams e.g. startups


I am part of a small startup team. We use Scrum and Jira to drive our technical projects.

The team covers many disciplines, from various flavours of software engineering to electrical engineering through to research. We could be described as a mixed-discipline  team that works on individual projects. The individual projects are part of our overarching goals: make our products better and expand their capabilities.


If possible we would like to improve how we use Scrum and Agile development in general. 


We are interested in learning from the experiences of other small mixed-discipline teams.

 - How have these teams adjusted the standard Scrum process framework?

 - What has worked well and what needs work?

 - What have been the benefits and challenges of using Scrum?

 - How do you know when Scrum is working well?

 - How do we know we are getting the most out of the process?


At the moment we don't know what we don't know.

We also have a diversity of scrum experience, from ninjas to newcomers. Should some of the newcomers be trained or should we seek training as a group?

1 answer

Hi @Michael ,

I've run a number of mixed discipline teams over the years, and I've found that it helps to identify the components or features at a high level and break them down into small deliverable or "products"  before going into Sprint planning. Scrum and Agile purists will cringe when I say this but...I often use a "Sprint 0" for mixed teams and create a "Product Breakdown Structure" prior to beginning development.  Doing this lets the team decide what things can be managed in a Scrum with time boxed sprints and what are better suited to a Kanban or other method.  

There are parts of my current project that are not conducive to Scrum, so those are tracked in a Kanban board in Jira, while other components can be time-boxed so we run them in sprints with a Scrum board. I used the "Team" field (from Portfolio) to filter the stories by discipline when I set up the boards. I use Fix Version to separate releases, and I have a main Kanban board with every Jira issue in the upcoming version that I use for tracking and reporting progress. 

The difficulty with this is in estimating and work tracking. Every issue needs to have an Original Estimate in hours, regardless of whether it is Scrum or Kanban,  all of the Scrum issues need to have story points, and everyone on the team needs to track time against the issues. Both of these together provide predictability help with sprint planning. This is new to my team, they are not used to estimating and tracking time, so it's been a challenge. 


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