How to handle [fill-in-the-blank] work in Scrum

As more teams are adopting Scrum around Dallas, I’ve been hearing more questions about how to handle work that is not specifically requested by the Product Owner.  How do you handle production support issues in Scrum?  How about technical debt?  How do you plan time for research?  How do you manage defects?  According to the Scrum Guide, “the Product Backlog lists all features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and fixes that constitute the changes to be made to the product in future releases,” but what does that look like in execution?

Our September Dallas meeting was an open discussion for folks to bring their questions and share experiences about how to deal with all of the work that doesn’t fit so neatly in a Product Backlog.  We ended up with NINE topics:

  1. Dependencies on infrastructure teams
  2. Dependencies on waterfall teams
  3. Dependencies on external vendors
  4. Hybrid work — agile + waterfall
  5. Unable to finish stories because of multiple opinions/committee
  6. Date-driven + fixed scope + fixed budget challenges
  7. Production support
  8. Multiple projects/changing velocity from one project to the next
  9. Supporting multiple apps/products

Since there were so many topics, we held two rounds of small group discussions and reported out learning after each round.  It was a productive and engaging meetup, and the comments afterward were great:

  • I had a great time and learned some valuable insights from fellow scrummers.
  • Best experience [at the meetup]. Gained lot of insight.
  • Great breakout sessions and helpful recommendations. Allison, thank you for facilitating.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made it a rich evening of learning!


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