Reliable and Ultimate Scrum

Take the agility, product orientation, iterations, values, self-organization and motivation from Scrum and Kanban and add a few elements from Critical Chain and Lean to achieve highest reliability and ultimate speed.

Scrum has established itself in many companies in the development and project management. Often very good results are achieved by these consistent frameworks. One of the major achievements is their strict control of the work in progress to enable all the positive sides of human work to achieve flow.

But in "classic" and larger enterprises Scrum and Kanban faces some requirements:
  • Need for security/reliability – this will be needed to ensure, that all features for the customer are available on the specific date! Oh yes this can happen.
  • Need for secure/fast improvements – where is the team standing according to optimal flow? How fast is the team improving?
Both needs are not actively supported in the traditional Scrum, which leads to resistance of the organization to the new management methodology scrum.

The next step is to make scrum even faster. By applying Ideas from Lean and Theory of Constraints it can be improved even more. Speed at its limit - Ultimate Scrum.

The combination of Reliable and Ultimate Scrum was select for the "Best of Innovation 2013" in the category "consulting".

In a few days the complete description, the guideline to introduce Reliable and Ultimate Scrum in your organization and much more about hyper productivity can be found in the new book "Tame the Flow" written by Steve Tendon and me and published on - 300 pages full of ideas that go far beyond classical agile methods.


From the critical chain project management two elements are known, which can be transferred to Scrum or Kanban. These are:
  • Safeguarding the finish date of a project by concentrating the buffers at the end of the project.
  • Presentation of project's status as progress on the critical chain compared to buffer consumption in the form of a curve.
The "Enhanced-Product-Burndown chart" is the basis for the reliable Scrum. Here the fixed due-date is added and the monitoring of the progress according the buffer consumption. The result is a "reliable Scrum". The release date can be kept safely, and there is always easiest transparency on the progress.

Out of Lean Management and the Theory of Constraints there are some more interesting elements known, that can help to reach the optimum in flow or throughput.
  • Reduce the big batch sizes (sprint in scrum) and buffer before each stage (Kanban) by changing to a Just-in-Time and Drum-Buffer-Rope schedule. Focus on the minimum open task in the team and elimination all impediments.
  • Reducing all the unnecessary Overhead to get more capacity for the development of skill in the team. Kaizen - developing the skill of each team member to get as productive as possible.

Both put together is Agile at its best. Reliability and speed near the theoretical Optimum - "Ultimate Scrum".

How to

The "Enhanced-Product-Burndown chart" is extended by a buffer and the monitoring of progress and buffer consumption.

The progress is calculated by the ration consumed time to the intersection of velocity and work-Add-Remove trendline = the current estimated completion date.

The buffer will be so dimensioned that it approximately 20+/-10% of the number of sprints in the release or by doing some more advanced probability calculations (s. guideline). Then, the buffer consumption calculated from the portion which was consumed by the current estimated completion date (see above) from the buffer.


The best thing is the diagram of progress and of buffer consumption over time in the form of a simple diagram.

The dots are the measuring point at the end of each Sprint. The colors arise from the idea that a project/release is on-track when it generates as much progress as buffer is consumed.

"Normally", a project moves from left bottom to right top. In case the project is in the "red" measures should be taken by the team to get back in the yellow or green field.

Experience shows that this diagram is easy to understand. The customers "see" immediately whether or not the project is in difficulties. On the other side this monitoring empowers the team to react early and self managed.

Resources to download ....

The full description (guideline) and excel files to calculate all the stuff and draw the diagram can be found here... 

Reliable Scrum on Video

Speech on the TOC4-Network-Meeting
2012 in Darmstadt