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Maximize Brainpower by Using Scrum

A comparison of brainpower used in Scrum versus non-Agile environments

25 May 2016

Wajih Aslam

Brainpower utilization in a non-Agile environment

Let's suppose we have a team of eight members, structured as a non-Agile team. We have one business analyst, one team lead, four developers, and two quality assurance engineers on the team. We know from experience how much effort is required in each phase of the software development cycle. We also know the number of team members involved in specific phases of software development. We can get the percentage of combined brainpower used by the whole team in each phase by looking at the number of team members involved divided by the total team members and multiplying by the percentage of effort required for that phase.

Let's suppose that every team member involved in each phase of the project life cycle puts forth 100% of brainpower. The following table shows us the percentage of utilization in a non-Agile environment:
Development phase % effort # of members Manpower * effort % utilization
Requirement 10% 1 BA 1/8 * 10 1.25
Analysis 15% 1 BA, 1 TL 2/8 * 15 3.75
Design 20% 1 TL, 4 Dev 5/8 * 20 12.5
Coding 30% 4 Dev 4/8 * 30 15
Testing 25% 2 QA 2/8 * 25 6.25
BA = Business analyst
TL = Team lead
Dev = Developer
QA = Quality assurance analyst

Brainpower utilization in Scrum

Now suppose we are using Scrum and we have 1 product owner, 1 ScrumMaster, and 6 team members. The following table shows us the percentage of brainpower utilized:
Development phase % effort # of members Manpower * effort % utilization
Requirement 10% 1 PO 1/8 * 10 1.25
Analysis 15% 6 DT, 1 SM 7/8 * 15 13.125
Design 20% 6 DT, 1 SM 7/8 * 20 17.5
Coding 30% 6 DT, 1 SM 7/8 * 30 26.25
Testing 25% 6 DT, 1 SM 7/8 * 25 21.875
PO = Product wner
SM = ScrumMaster
DT = Development team


In this case, the non-Agile team uses only 38.75% of total brainpower capacity, whereas the Scrum team uses 80% of total brainpower capacity. More use of brainpower improves the development phase results, because more people are involved and share their ideas and experiences. Further, the team members' involvement reduces communication gaps.


Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 1.5 (2 ratings)


Sheetal Kulkarni, CSM, 5/25/2016 7:08:01 AM
Nice Article.

I have a question. How can we consider all Team members contribution in Development and Testing?
Team members in Scrum team includes both Dev and QA members but their roles and responsibilities remain same. I mean QA team member is not involved in coding and vice-versa.
In this case the brain utilization % will go little less.
In my opinion all team members can contribute in Analysis n Design but not in actual dev and QA activities.

Anyway brain utilization in Scrum is more than traditional water fall model.
Wajih Aslam, CSP,CSD,CSM, 5/29/2016 12:48:12 AM
Thanks Sheetal,
QA\BA team members may not perform development task but they are completely involved in the development by planning, estimations and during daily stand ups. They can share their ideas which can be helpful to make development more effective to achieve high quality and closest to the business need. They may be not doing actual development task but they share their knowledge and experience.
Sheetal Kulkarni, CSM, 6/7/2016 6:40:23 AM

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