A lot of teams have adopted the Scrum based development model. Now, there are a few processes that are intrinsic to Scrum, but some of the key properties that distinguish Scrum from Waterfall and other development models are:
– The team is empowered and decision making happens from the team, not from a Project Manager
– Features are broken down into very small tasks, typically doable in a matter of a few hours or a couple of days at the maximum
– The team shares information with each other on a regular basis about the current status of their tasks
– Every few weeks / month (or whatever is the definition of a Sprint cycle duration) the tasks outlined for that duration have to be completed to the satisfaction of the Product Owner and demo’d
– If a task is not completed, whatever be the reason, it should not be marked as Done in the current Sprint and moved to future Sprints
– There is a huge amount of clarity about the current state of the tasks and features; people have stated that Scrum exposes many truths about the current status of the project and the schedule
With all this, the amount of change that a team goes through when they move onto being on a Scrum based methodology can be very high. Even with a large amount of training, the team can run into a large number of issues; these can be confusion, or where some clarification is required, and so on. And in many cases, the team may not even realize that they are running into issues that an expert could isolate and help in resolving. Even the simple three step process of the Daily Scrum meeting can result in problems that need to be resolved but for which nobody in the team has the experience to isolate, target and resolve.
For this purpose, it is real helpful that when teams are going through an initial experience of using Scrum based development methodology, they are provided the services of a coach (this can be an expert from outside the organization, or somebody with more experience from within the organization who can provide local support to the Scrum team). The coach can sit in the Daily Scrum meetings and review the productivity, and velocity of the Scrum team to figure out whether there are issues that the coach can help in (and you would not believe how busy such a coach can be when exposed to a team that is implementing Scrum for the first time). Such a coach on standby can also provide a lot of support for the Scrum team members, who even though they have been exposed to Scrum training, can run into multiple issues during actual project execution and need support from somebody with far more experience. The advantage that such a coach provides is through working with the team to help provide them the ability to identify issues, and guide them about possible solutions for such problems. If the team is able to develop such an ability, the gain in efficiency and productivity for the team can be invaluable. Over a period of time, the team can figure out when they need to release the coach and be capable on their own to resolve issues.