Journal of Software Engineering and Applications, 2013, 6, 59-64 Published Online February 2013 ( 59
Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum*
Jiangping Wan1,2 Yahui Zhu1 Ming Zeng1
1School of Business Administration, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China; 2Institute of Emerging Industrializa-
tion Development, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China.
Received January 8th, 2013; revised February 6th, 2013; accepted February 14th, 2013
Agile developmen t 12 p rinciples, and adap tive pr oject management life cycle model are applied to case study of J group,
the critical success factors of running Scrum are identified as follows: 1) explicit the process of project management and
a self-managing group with Scrum; 2) professional agile development and release capability; 3) building learning or-
ganization. J group as a pioneer Scrum agile software development practices, realizes the productivity of significant
promotion and cost reduction, accelerates the product to the market, improves customer satisfaction and achieves a
more transparent development process and higher predictive capability. The study aims to improve the success rate of
the running Scrum.
Keywords: Agile Software Development; Scrum; Critical Success Factors; Case Study
1. Introduction
Agile software development encourages the formation of
collaborative and self-organization teams that will have a
huge competitive advantage over those who hold the
view that a software development organization is nothing
more than a pile of twisty little people all alik e. A gelled
software team is the most powerful software develop-
ment force there is. The Agile Manifesto is as follows: 1)
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. 2)
Working software over comprehensive documentation. 3)
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. 4) Re-
sponding to change over following a plan. Twelve prin-
ciples underlie the Agile Manifesto, including 1) Our
highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early
and continuous delivery of valuable software. 2) Wel-
come changing requirements, even late in development.
Agile processes harness change for the customer’s com-
petitive advantage. 3) Deliver working software frequ-
ently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with
a preference to the shorter timescale. 4) Business people
and developers must work together daily throughout the
project. 5) Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need, and
trust them to get the job done. 6) The most efficient and
effective method of conveying information to and within
a development team is face-to-face conversation. 7)
Working software is the primary measure of progress. 8)
Agile processes promote sustainable development. 9)
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to
maintain a constant pace indefinitely. 10) Continuous
attention to technical excellence and good design en-
hances agility. 11) Simplicity. 12) The best architectures,
requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing
teams [1,2].
J group was found in 1980 , which had created the first
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in 1985, its headquar-
ter was located in Toronto, Canada. It has branch firms in
American, France, India and China. Shenzhen, as a main
branch of the research and development headquarter,
providing technical and business support for the whole
group. J group is committed to the field of agile softw are
development, especially in running Scrum. J group has
an agile development team, including many of profes-
sional consultants, all of them has more than 10 years’
work experience in IT companies and the insightful un-
derstanding of software development, project manage-
ment and other related fields.
This paper is organized in the following: Section 2 is
literature review, including Scrum framework, ten prin-
ciples of knowledge creation in open source software
community and particular in resource capability arbitra-
tion among multiple Scrum teams. Section 3 is research
design. Section 4 iden tifies critical success factors of run-
ning Scrum. Section 5 is conclusions.
2. Literature Review
*This research was supported by Key Project of Guangdong Province
Education Office. (06JDXM63002), NSF of China (70471091), and
QualiPSo (IST-FP6-IP-034763). Scrum is an innovative approach to getting work done.
Scrum is an agile framework for completing complex
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JSEA
Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum
projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software
development projects, but works well for any complex,
innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless.
The Scrum framework illustrated in Figure 1 [3].
There are several key roles in Scrum framework: 1)
Stakeholders: the mission owners possess the idea about
why to build, what to build, and how processes should be.
2) Product owner: the product development owner, close-
ly working with stakeholders, creates a prioritized wish
list-story—called a Product Backlog. 3) Scrum Master:
the facilitator, closely working with product owner, mak es
sure the stories in the product backlog will successfully
delivered as workable sub-products. 4) Scrum team: the
developers, closely working with Scrum Master, deliver
workable sub-products according to the product backlog.
Scrum Master with the team invites the product owner
to debrief the stories in product backlog. Scrum Master
leads a Sprint Planning with the team to disassemble the
story into tasks, a Sprint Backlog. It is a Scrum team ef-
fort to decide how to implement and who should do the
tasks. Daily-Scrum is a group meeting to discuss the pro-
gress of task implementation and technical issues. Scrum
Master keeps the team focused on its goal. At the end of
the sprint, the process of development, the work should
be potentially shippable, as in ready to hand to stake-
holders. The sprint ends with a sprint review and retro-
spective. As the next sprint begins, the team chooses an-
other chunk of the product backlog and begins working
again. The cycle repeats until enough items in the prod-
uct backlog have been completed, the budget is depleted,
or a deadline arrives. Which of these milestones marks
the end of the work is entirely specific to the project. No
matter which impetus stops work, Scrum ensures that the
most valuable work has been completed wh en the project
J. P. Wan and R. T. Wang have discussed agile soft-
ware process improvement in P company with their de-
scription of process management in current level and
analysis of problems, design the P Company critical suc-
cess factors model in organizational culture, systems,
products, customers, markets, leadership, technology and
other key dimensions, which is verified with question-
naire in P company. They also apply knowledge creation
theory to analyze the open source software community of
successful application of the typical agile software me-
thod, propose ten principles of knowledge creation in
open source software community: self-organizing, code
sharing, adaptation, usability, sustention, talent, interac-
tion, collaboration, happiness, and democracy [4].
Rich C. Lee researched the following questions: 1)
What are the critical factors of success team communica-
tion in running Scrum? 2) How Scrum Master alleviates
the challenge when team members lack of skills to com-
plete the assigned task? 3) Should Scrum Masters ex-
change resources for specific skill required tasks? 4)
What are the criterions of resource exchange among
Scrum teams? [5].
3. Research Design
The resolution of the running Scrum is put forward with
the deep analyzing of the various factors in J group’s
agile project and its challenges, resolution for the running
Scrum, including organization breakdown structure, ex-
plicit the project management process, the self-managing
of Scrum team, professional agile development and re-
lease, expending Scrum management, building learning
organization, and then analysis the effects of running
Scrum to confirm successful, including productive effi-
ciency, teamwork, adaptability, responsibility, coopera-
tion ability, then the key processes of running Scrum,
including determinate phase, planning phase, start-up
phase, supervision and control phase, decided to start the
iteration phase and closeout phase, finally the critical
success factors in running Scrum of J group are identified.
The framework of research is illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 1. Scru framework. m
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JSEA
Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum 61
Figure 2. Research framework.
4. Identify Critical Success Factors of
Running Scrum
4.1. Overview of Running Scrum in J Group
The decision-making committee of J group had a kick-off
meeting of the Scrum project at March 15, 2006, and set
up the Scrum transformed community, including the ex-
perienced staffs of the engineering and development, the
vice presidents of the product management, marketing,
sales, operations and HR department, and the leaders of
the QA department, development, architecture, interac-
tion design and database. About 15 people joined the
community, in which the time of each one involved ran-
ges from 8 to 24 months, it depends on their roles in the
group and the periods of time they have promised. As the
transformation affected all sections of the group, so the
members we selected should on behalf of almost the en-
tire group. The community has a two-hour meeting per
4.2. Solutions of Running Scrum in J Group
4.2.1. Organization Breakdown St ructure for
Running Scrum
The Scrum team of J group consists of Scrum Master,
product leader and team. Scrum Master, customers and
management layer determine the candidate of the product
manager together. Scrum Master is responsible for teach-
ing the product manager how to work, which should
learn to run the Scrum in order to optimize the product
development (Figure 3).
4.2.2. Explicit the Project Management Process
For the success of the project, we should balance the
project management process with the produce-oriented
process. The same process should be selectively applied
to different projects, and the rational using should be
made depend on both the current situation and the dif-
ference of the running project.
4.2.3. The Self-Managing of Scrum Team
As the Scrum methods had all the inherent flexibility of
the agile development, we could have the project team
Figure 3. The breakdown structure of J group.
customized according to the different requirement. A few
members of the agile team collected and distributed the
key information before the daily team meeti ng. A simple
dashboard for the other members is established, so that
all the team members can quickly share their work in the
daily meeting. No matter where are they, all the people
can work properly.
4.2.4. Professional Agile Development and Release
J group follows the “syn chronizations and periodic stab i-
lizations” strategy in development and the releasing of
the new product [6]. It means all the work can be carried
out paralleled and synchronized, in which many of the
steps are incremental progressive and paralleled carried
out, and need coordination and running in automated.
The unique of the J group is the ways of the running,
which can support the incremental evolution of the pro-
duct characteristics’ marketing strategy, and each team
focus on finishing work as soon as possible, as well as
providing a large number of customized products.
J group’s agile team usually adopts a mixed type de-
velopment. Using the traditional sequential steps at the
beginning, once the first stage of the product characteris-
tics finished, the team will turn to a frequent-build proc-
ess, in order to keep synchronizations and periodic stabi-
lizations in the evolution. The construction will be taken
specific measures that carrying out daily synchronized
debugging, providing customizes products and multiple
platform version, centralized office, using a common lan-
guage and the continuing testing.
4.2.5. Expending Scrum Management
Scrum development team usually has no more than 7 - 10
members. This scale can finish a lot of tasks, especially
in permitting and encouraging the use of agile develop-
ment process. However, some special projects need the
larger team.
J group should overcome the challenges of running
Scrum in large and multi-team project, including ex-
panding more product managers, finishing the backlog of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JSEA
Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum
the large-scale products, the coordination between dif-
ferent teams, the synchronization and expansion of the
Sprint planning meeting.
Product managers play a crucial role in the running
Scrum. For a small-size team, their internal task is to
participate in the Sprint planning meeting, review Sprint
meeting and daily meeting, manage the product backlog,
solve the team problems and always keep online during
the Sprint. For the large-scale and multiple teams, their
external task contains requirement analysis, carrying out
the users investigate, participating in trade fairs, manag-
ing the expectations of the project stakeholders, provid-
ing the priority of the product backlog, deciding the
prices, making the medium-and-long-term product strat-
egy, observing the market trends and analyzing the com-
The multi-team project has different version, J group
must expand the product managers. Many large-scale
project teams select commercial agile tools to support the
backlog. All the tools should meet two principles as fol-
lows: 1) if there is only one product, it should be only
one backlog; 2) the scale of the backlog should be rea-
When more than one team expanding, the coordination
is very important. A common practice is Scrum of Scrum,
these meeting allow teams to discuss their work, espe-
cially in crossing and integrated data.
When more than one team involves in the sa me Scrum
project, each team should manage its own Sprint. Over-
lapping Sprint would lead to many problems, because it
is impossible that all the teams finish their tasks at a
common time, and it is too difficult to deploy and pro-
vide a complete system’s feedback. Therefore, synchro-
nized Sprint is necessary. It allows all teams start and end
Sprint in a day or two, and the length of Sprint need not
to be the exactly the same.
4.2.6. Building Learning Organization
Even if an operation does well for A enterprise, it is usu-
ally not suitable for B enterprise. Only through constant
self-reflection, feedback and sharing can enterprises im-
prove themselves. It includes systematic review and
learning, standardizing measurement and timely feed-
back, customized consultant supervision and strengthen
the communication among different teams.
Either the different departments of J group or the dif-
ferent teams of the same product, the project experience
and achievements of each team are different. At the end
of the project, the team should finish the documents ana-
lysis, which has a brief description of the development
and testing, and summing up experience and lessons help
the team to avoid the same mistake in next project. In
addition, the documents also conclude team members,
product, quality description, progress and process, they
are very important for sharing resources and experiences.
Scrum team leaders adopt some metrics to track and
analyze the group. Senior managers will use metric data
to estimate resource requirements, schedule planning and
the feedback of the stability and performance of the pro-
ject. In general, these metrics include quality metrics; the
number of the defects and their fixed rate; defect analysis
report; defect rate per thousand lines; customers’ satis-
faction and feedback.
“Systematic review and learning” and “Standardizing
measurement and timely feedback” are the internal self-
reflection of J group. Learning from external customers
is also important. J group adop ts a customized consultant
supervision, which means extracting a consultant from
the main cooperators to participate and supervise the
crucial projects. Enterprises should provide a variety of
channels and opportunities to customers to feedback in-
formation, and must have a customer service department
to analysis and classify the data to improve the data
J group establishes a series of communication mecha-
nisms for cross product teams so that all the team could
share components and standardize characteristics. Not
only in reusing the design and code, but also each team
committed to standard components and architecture.
4.3. Performance of Running Scrum in J Group
J group spent 8 months in investigating 50 Scrum devel-
opment projects in 2011, more than 600 people involved,
the number of the teams adopting Scrum was rapid in-
creasing. These projects are engaged in the scheduler,
registration, billing, and service for millions of customers
and other incremental projects. Everyone who using
Scrum in J group once a quarter (including the owner of
the product, developer, Scrum Master and managers) was
investigated, and make a comparison with the previous
development (Table 1).
4.4. Identify the Critical Success Factors of
Running Scrum
With the different phases of running Scrum project case
study, particularly in running J group’s Scrum project,
the key processes of the running Scrum were explicitly
summarized in Table 2.
Table 1. The effect of the running scrum.
Increase greatly Not change Decrease
Productive efficiency 68% 27% 5%
Teamwork 52% 39% 9%
Adaptability 63% 33% 4%
Responsibility 62% 32% 6%
Cooperation ability 81% 18% 1%
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Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum
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Table 2. The key processes of running scrum.
1. Determinate phase 2. Planning phase 3. Start-up phase
1. Develop the real requirements of
2. Write a one page project description;
3. Recode the requirement of customers;
4. Gain the senior managers’ permission to
run the project;
5. Discuss how to meet the requirements
with the customers.
1. Define all the work of the project;
2. Establish the schedule of initial project;
3. Assess the time required to complete the project;
4. Analyze and adjust the project schedule;
5. Assess the resource required to complete the project;
6. Write the risk management plan;
7. Assess the whole cost of the project;
8. Record the project plan;
9. Sort the work in chronological order;
10. Get the senior management’s permission to start the
1. Recruit project manager;
2. Build the scope change management
3. Recruit the project team members;
4. Manage the team communication;
5. Write the descriptive document
of project;
6. Determine the schedule;
7. Build the team operating rules;
8. Write the work package.
4. Supervision and control phase 5. Decided to start the iteration phase 6. Closeout phase
1. Build the running and reporting system;
2. Report the schedule;
3. Supervise the running;
4. Deal with the request of scope change;
5. Supervise the risks;
6. Identify and solve the problems.
1. Decision-making process for customer management;
2. Customers must be fully involved in this process;
3. The atmosphere must be complete open and honest;
4. Determination must base on the expected commercial
5. Solution must be formed according to the project’s
1. Get the confirmation of the customer;
2. Prepare for the deliverables
and installations.
3. Write the closeout report;
4. Start the audit of the running.
Questionnaire survey was mainly carried in February
2012 to March 2012 in shen zhen area between fiv e com-
panies with the e-mail. A total of send an email was 60,
and a total recovery is effective questionnaire was 40.
Effective recovery is 66%. Tables 3-7 are res pond en t and
survey unit, survey industry, customer party cooperation
time for the visited enterprise, agile software develop-
ment history for the visited enterprise and the role of dis-
tribution in project respectiv ely.
The respondents are engaged mainly in information
and IT industry, and service scale, the project cycle and
individual participation in Scrum experience are more
average. Respondents, which include Scrum project man-
agement four people, and a lot of really relate to a spe-
cific Scrum of team 22 engineers. It makes the data more
With case study on the key processes of running
Scrum and referring the 12 principles of agile develop-
ment and adaptive project management life cycle theory
and model, in addition to survey, the critical success fac-
tors of running Scrum are identified as follows: 1) Ex-
plicit processes of project management and a self-man-
aging group with Scrum. 2) Professional agile develop-
ment and release capacity (work synchronizations and
periodic stabilizations debug everyday, customize prod-
uct and have lots of versions of product, work together,
use the same development language), and expended Sc-
rum management (expended the manager of the product,
finish a large products backlog of work, work and co-
ordination each other, expend the Sprint meeting). 3)
Building learning organization (System analysis and stu-
dies, measure standardization and feedback the thoughts,
use customer adviser and improve the product, streng-
then the communization and sharing with different team).
Table 3. Respondent and survey unit.
Enterprise survey Interview
P Company
I R&D Division
Y IT Service, Division
C centre of network
D Company
Effective recovery 66%
Table 4. Survey industry.
Industry %
IT service 49.5%
Electronic and information 18.8%
Financial securities 17.8%
Medical services 13.9%
Table 5. Customer party cooperation time for the visited
Year %
<1 22.9%
1 - 3 45.7%
3 - 5 11.4%
>5 20%
Table 6. Agile software development history for the visited
Year %
1 - 3 22.9%
3 - 5 57.1%
>5 20%
Case Study on Critical Success Factors of Running Scrum
Table 7. The role of distribution in project.
Role %
Scrum Master 11.4%
Product principal 62.9%
Developer 8.6%
Designer 2.9%
Tester & others 14.2%
5. Conclusion
With case study on J group’s running Scrum, it is found
that enterprise should select and apply 12 principles of
agile development reasonably, and improve the agile
project management and support project operation ac-
cording to adaptive project management life cycle model.
We try to illustrate the design elements of the project
management processes and the crucial success factors of
running Scrum’s transformation. Scrum’s transformation
happens in different departments, different places and
different time, if there is no a clear model or standardized
process (Adaptive project management life cycle) to as-
sess the regular assessment, the success will be impossi-
ble. It will provide a successful reference for other enter-
6. Acknowledgements
Thanks for helpful discussion with Mrs. Panpan Wang,
Mr. Zhou Zhijun, Mr. Jiangzhang Li and Mr. Wang Shu-
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