Targeted Scrum: Applying Mission Command to Agile Software Development

Author(s): David P. Harvie, Arvin Agah
Venue: IEEE Transactions of Software Engineering (Volume: 42, Issue: 5)
Date: 2015

Type of Experiement: Controlled Experiment
Sample Size: 26
Class/Experience Level: Undergraduate Student, Graduate Student
Participant Selection: Semester-long agile software engineering course
Data Collection Method: Observation, Survey, Project Artifact(s)


This paper compares the military procedure “Mission Command” to agile software development and discusses the influence of Mission Command to Scrum. Mission Command is a military decision making process that outlines incremental mission analysis. The core of Mission Command is the Operations Process, which is the iterative cycle of continuously planning, preparing, and executing tasks. A subset of this is the Targeting Process which requires understanding the end goal and planning and prioritizing the steps to achieve it.

To apply the Targeting Process to Scrum (Targeted Scrum), a Product Design Meeting establishing a Product framework is introduced. Lines of Effort (LOE) are also introduced to improve the communication within the team.

An experiment was conducted on a semester-long agile software engineering course to discover whether Targeted Scrum actually improves the software engineering process and product. Half of the teams in the class were to follow traditional Scrum and the other half, Targeted Scrum. The teams swapped methodologies for the second project. The results convey that Targeted Scrum did indeed improve planning and prioritization of requirements and understanding and development of the overall project architecture. There were some weaker correlations to Targeted Scrum improving the software product. No outstanding evidence show significant improvement in team communication.