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Transition to Scrum With Experienced Scrum Masters

by Platinum Edge

Scrum is the most widely deployed agile approach in software development and is a framework for continual improvement and efficiency. Scrum adoption is still evolving and maturing in some geographies and is emerging in industries and business functions outside of software development (including manufacturing, education, healthcare, military, cybersecurity, publishing, HR, finance, sales, marketing and leadership). When you are new on your scrum journey and don’t have trained and proven scrum practitioners in your organization, your best bet is to hire someone externally who already has been on the scrum journey and can guide you through the pitfalls and challenges of the initial stages of transition. The scrum master is a coach not only to the scrum team members, but also to the organization on how scrum works, scrum values and ultimately agile values and principles. Anchoring your organization with solid scrum master talent is a really good place to start. Here is why:

Break through organization culture

The most obvious benefit of hiring an experienced scrum master consultant is that he/she is not already influenced by the culture of your organization. The consultant is not “part of the problem,” which gives them a level of clout and influence to help the organization out of their traditional habits and dysfunctions. Most organizations need this outside perspective and leadership to see the opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise see for stepping away from the status quo.

Avoid common pitfalls

Implementing scrum values and roles simply by following the Scrum Guide and other resources like books and case studies on the subject are not enough in every case. A trained and experienced scrum master has already experienced the common pitfalls and tricky situations which invariably come up during scrum adoption. Since each organization is unique, there are many ways in which a scrum project can go wrong. A consultant will be able to detect the signs of failure and resistance to change much earlier than an internal employee who is probably trained in scrum but has not experienced it first-hand.

Quickly achieve optimal efficiency

With a scrum master consultant on board, the turnaround time for scrum adoption is reduced. Experienced scrum masters know how to facilitate bringing people together to reach consensus. Every scrum team goes through Tuckman’s four stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. Because of the knowhow which a consultant brings in, you will likely see a reduced time to norming and performing, since the scrum team is not held back by an inexperienced scrum master who is still learning the basics of how to be a servant leader, facilitator and shield. Your internal employees can feed off the access to invaluable knowledge from the consultant and quickly get up to speed. They can always approach someone with expertise when they are in doubt about a particular agile technique or way of working.

Focus to ensure quality in the scrum master role

An external scrum master coming in as a consultant is less likely to be burdened and thrashed by dual responsibilities of doing the development work as well as filing in as “part-time” scrum master. A new scrum team needs a focused, dedicated and effective scrum master. Experienced scrum master consultants can also set the tone, expectations and quality standards for the role in the organization moving forward.