Myth No. 2: Scrum Wont Work on a Fixed Schedule and Budget

By Jimi Fosdick  |  Posted 2010-10-29 Print this article Print

Myth No. 2: Scrum won't work on a fixed schedule and budget

This may be the most common myth one hears when first introducing Scrum concepts. This myth, too, is understandable given the dramatic differences between a Scrum approach to planning and execution and a more traditional approach such as "waterfall." Scrum uses a planning approach called "progressive elaboration" or "rolling wave."

Rolling Wave Planning is "a form of progressive elaboration planning where the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work far in the future is planned at a relatively high level, but the detailed planning of the work to be performed within another one or two periods in the near future is done as work is being completed during the current period," according to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, Fourth Edition.

Such an approach is in stark contrast to a traditional approach where we construct an elaborate, up-front plan that contains the details of all the work to be done (we think), and project health and progress is measured by deviation from this baseline plan. This is referred to as a "plan-driven approach."

Scrum is based on a completely different set of assumptions. Scrum assumes, in the words of quality management guru Philip Crosby, "if anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist...tomorrow." For the kinds of work where we would consider the Scrum approach (typically, complex creative development work), Scrum recognizes that we cannot reasonably determine all the details of the work up-front and won't have a fuller understanding-no matter how long we think and talk about it-until we start building something. Scrum then replaces a defined process, the plan-driven approach, with an adaptive and evolutionary process that's referred to as a "value-driven approach."

Jimi Fosdick is a Certified Scrum Trainer at CollabNet. With more than 14 years of experience in product development, Jimi has worked in a wide range of industries, including publishing, software, advertising, and the public sector. As one of the Certified Scrum Trainers on CollabNet's ScrumCORE team, Jimi conducts dozens of public courses around the world each year, helping organizations to surface dysfunction and improve processes through Scrum. Before joining CollabNet predecessor Danube in November 2008, Jimi spent four years advocating agile approaches to project managementÔÇöfirst as a program and project manager, and later as an independent agile and Scrum consultant. During this time, Jimi worked with companies such as CIBER, Avenue A | Razorfish, MTV Networks, and Microsoft, helping them transform to more agile ways of working using Scrum. Prior to these consulting engagements, Jimi spent a decade working in various capacities in software, including as a program manager of software product development and solutions architecture at the Riverside Publishing Company, and as a senior staff developer at Polycom, Inc. Jimi is a PMI-certified PMP, and received his MBA in Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. As an undergraduate, Jimi studied mathematics and computer science at Loyola University in Chicago. For more of Jimi's thoughts on Scrum, visit his blog at He can also be reached at

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