Why Spillover Happens and Why You Shouldn’t Worry

Spillover, while not ideal, is not the worst thing that can happen to a team in Scrum, there are a number of reasons for this as stated below:

Emerging Dependencies: Imagine a scenario where a team is working on a sprint, and during the process, they uncover an unexpected dependency on another team or external resource. This dependency requires coordination and collaboration to resolve. As a result, some tasks may spill over into the next sprint. While it disrupts the original plan, addressing the dependency is crucial for the project’s success and aligns with the agile value of responding to change.

Scope Changes: In an agile environment, it’s common for requirements to evolve as stakeholders gain new insights or market conditions shift. If significant changes in scope occur mid-sprint, it may lead to spillover as the team adapts to the revised requirements. While this situation requires flexibility and potentially adjusting priorities, it allows the team to align their efforts with changing business needs and deliver value accordingly.

Learning and Experimentation: Agile teams encourage experimentation and learning. They may choose to dedicate time within a sprint to explore innovative solutions or conduct research. Such exploration can lead to valuable insights and better outcomes in the long run, even if it means some tasks spill over. This investment in learning contributes to the team’s growth and the overall success of the project.

Unforeseen Complexity: Sometimes, tasks turn out to be more complex or challenging than initially anticipated. Despite the team’s best efforts, they may require additional time to complete the work properly. In such cases, spillover can provide an opportunity to address the complexity effectively, ensuring the delivery of high-quality work.


While spillover should be minimised and its root causes examined, it is not the worst outcome in Scrum. The iterative nature of Scrum allows teams to adapt, learn, and refine their processes continually. By embracing change and responding to challenges, teams can optimize their performance and achieve better results in the long term.

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