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Impediments are barricades, hurdles or obstacles and these are recorded in Impediment Logs. In terms of Scrum, they are “blockers” that prevent the Scrum Team from completing work, which in return impacts velocity. Anything that prohibits the team from doing work is considered an impediment and should be included within impediment logs. Examples of Scrum impediments are listed in Table 1.

Impediment Types
Sick Scrum Team memberSlow Agile/Scrum adoption
Too cold team roomProcess issues
Business or customer issuesCultural or waterfall issues
People issuesBlockers for a User Story
Unresolved dependenciesFaulty equipment

Table 1. Scrum Impediments

Impediment Logs: Tracking, Monitoring and Removing Impediments

The Scrum Master is responsible for tracking, monitoring and ensuring that impediments are removed. All Scrum Team members are responsible for continually identifying impediments for discussion during the Daily Standup Meeting. If for some reason an impediment does not disappear in a timely manner, this would indicate that the root causes have not been identified. The Sprint Retrospective is another place for impediments that reoccur. It is important to understand that the Scrum Master is not solely responsible for the removal of impediments. The team should work together to remove impediments that can be easily resolved and provide assistance with any additional support that may be required.

A few things to note:

  • Impediments that are identified daily are generally very small and can be quickly resolved. This may include sending a simplifying email and/or getting assistance from a Scrum Team member.
  • The bigger impediments are most likely to be identified during the Retrospective meetings and require a level of dedication to be removed. These types of impediments are added to the Sprints for resolution.
  • Impediments that are identified by the team are added to the Product Backlog for prioritization and processing. Large items that are not able to be addressed quickly are addressed in later Sprints.
  • Organizational impediments added to the Impediments Log are prioritized and addressed on an ongoing basis. Both team and organizational impediments are reviewed after each Sprint in the Retrospective meeting.

Impediment Logs: Types of Impediments

There are two main types of impediments, organizational and team related and they need different types of handling.

  • Team Impediments – issues that the team can solve without needing external assistance. However, the team may need internal assistance from management. These types of impediments would include but are not limited to:
    • Changes to the way that the team works
    • Reminders for when a specific problem re-occurs
    • The need for tools or workflows that can make team’s work easier
    • Internal measures put in place for the team to avoid repeating a prior error
  • Organizational Impediments – issues that are dependent on others to solve. These issues include but are not limited to:
    • Slow internet
    • Issues with obtaining input from other teams or divisions
    • Lack of training

The expectation is that the team can learn to remove its own impediments without the Scrum Master’s intervention. This also means that impediments in the log should not be delegated to the team because many of them may be very difficult to resolve. On the other hand, the Scrum Master is not expected to resolve all impediments alone either. The entire Scrum Team needs to work together to determine which impediments it can resolve and what support may be needed. Over time, the team should become capable of removing more and more impediments on its own.

Impediment Logs

There should only be a single Impediment Log for a Scrum Master to manage. Table 2. outlines the process that is typically used to create, monitor and maintain the Impediments Log.

ProcessDescription
RecordThe Daily Standup Meeting is the best time to document impediments in the Impediments Log as each team member reveals them. After the brief meeting, the Scrum Master will gather additional information so that the impediments can be prioritized.  
PrioritizeImpediments should be prioritized based on their levels of importance and in relation to those on that are already on the log.  
PublishThe Impediments Log should be made visible to everyone and posted for all to view.  
AddressThe Scrum Master should address the highest priority impediments from the log and ensure that it is removed so that the team can continue to reach the Sprint’s objective.  
CommunicateWhen the impediment is removed, this information should be communicated to the involved parties and the Impediments Log is updated.  

Table 2. Impediments Process in Scrum

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Log Descriptions

Table 3. identifies a description of each of the field on the Log. Let’s examine the data input fields for an impediments log to gain the proper understanding of their usage.

Impediments Log FieldDescription
Impediment DescriptionIdentifies what the impediment is  
Importance of Impediment Resolution  (Blocker, Critical, Major, Minor), Describes the priority level  
Action suggested to be taken  Recommended action to be taken to resolve the impediment  
OwnerThe person assigned to remove the impediment
Due date of when it must be resolved  Deadline date for resolution
Release that impediment was identified inRelease number  

Table 3. Impediment Log Data Input Fields

Tips for Removing Impediments

Following are several tips for the removal of impediments:

  • Impediments should be identified at any time. The Scrum Team should never wait until the Daily Scrum to discuss them.
  • If an item will prevent the Development Team from achieving the Sprint Goals, it’s an impediment.
  • There is a distinct difference between blockers and impediments. A blocker impacts a single task and an impediment hinders overall progress.
  • Use an Impediments Board to ensure of adequate transparency. This means that Impediments should be included in the list of Information Radiators.
  • Track completed impediments. This information is good feedback for the Sprint Review and Retrospective meetings.
  • The Scrum Master needs to understand the organizational culture to best figure out how to remove impediments.
  • Use courage and creativity to remove impediments from impediment logs. Ask for forgiveness later if a bold decision needs to be made.
  • Collaborate with the Product Owner. Many impediments in Scrum are related to product management, stakeholder and supplier collaboration.
  • Don’t waste time and effort in fixing incorrect problems. Make sure that the focus is on the real problem(s).
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