How do you apply Scrum to maintenance and legacy code improvements?

GoRetro Team
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What is Scrum

Scrum is a popular agile framework that is widely used in software development to deliver high-quality products in a fast and efficient manner. It is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation, and it involves a series of iterations called "sprints" in which a cross-functional team works together to deliver a set of deliverables.

What is Scrum

How can Scrum help aid Legacy code improvements

While Scrum is often associated with greenfield development, it can also be effectively applied to maintenance and legacy code improvements. One of the key challenges of working with legacy code is that it can be difficult to understand and modify. It may have been written by someone else, using technologies or programming practices that are now outdated. It may be poorly documented, or it may be tightly coupled with other systems, making it hard to make changes without breaking something else.

In these situations, Scrum can be a useful tool to help the team work through the challenges of maintaining and improving the legacy code. Here are some tips for applying Scrum to this type of work:

  1. Define the scope of the work: Before starting a sprint, it's important to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. This may involve reviewing the existing codebase, identifying areas that need improvement, and prioritizing the work based on business value and risk.
  2. Break the work into small chunks: Large, complex tasks can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially when working with legacy code. To make progress more manageable, it can be helpful to break the work down into small, bite-sized chunks that can be completed in a single sprint.
  3. Use a "Definition of Done" to ensure quality: A "Definition of Done" is a set of criteria that must be met before a piece of work is considered complete. This can help ensure that the code is of high quality and ready for production. For legacy code improvements, the Definition of Done might include things like writing unit tests, performing code reviews, and verifying that the code is working as expected.
  4. Use a "Tech Debt" backlog: As with any software project, it's likely that you'll encounter technical debt as you work on the legacy code. This can be frustrating, especially if it wasn't part of the original plan. To help manage this, you can use a "Tech Debt" backlog to track and prioritize the work that needs to be done. This can help you make informed decisions about when to tackle the debt and how much time to allocate to it.
  5. Work in short iterations: One of the key benefits of Scrum is that it allows you to make progress in small, incremental steps. By working in short iterations, you can get feedback from users and stakeholders more frequently, which can help you identify and fix problems more quickly. This is especially important when working with legacy code, as it can be hard to predict how changes will affect the rest of the system.


In conclusion, Scrum can be an effective tool for managing the challenges of maintenance and legacy code improvements. By defining the scope of the work, breaking it down into small chunks, using a Definition of Done, and working in short iterations, you can help your team deliver high-quality code in a fast and efficient manner.

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