Vidoni cautioned against setting expectations too high too soon. “You need to get into the rhythm of the format. You should give yourself months to adjust to it before you look for the productivity gains.”

Joe Little, Certified ScrumMaster, agile coach and managing director of Kitty Hawk Consulting, recommends that teams beginning down the Scrum path be co-located for a while—about six sprints, he said. Further, he would not use Scrum tools to get started.

“I would learn it with a [whiteboard] in the team rooms,” he said. “Most people later on, with distributed activities, would need some kind of Scrum tool. If you’re widely distributed—which I wouldn’t be—you need a tool. But I don’t think it’s the key to success.”

One aspect, however, that is seen as a key to success is doing Scrum by the book at first. “Everything is there for a very good reason,” Szalvay said. “You set up responsibilities for the product owner and team. When people say they don’t want to name a product owner, that leads to all kinds of issues. A product owner makes priority decisions, and you need one person to be responsible to the organization and its customers for that priority. Or, they say they don’t want to co-locate teams. Then they won’t gel, and it leads to bad ramifications.”

Yet TypeMock’s Lopian admitted his company uses a hybrid mix. “We don’t have the team and project owner and ScrumMaster definitions,” he said. “We use managers to think about what needs to be done.”

There are two schools of thought on Scrum, according to Jez Humble of ThoughtWorks Studios, which make development tools for use in agile shops. First is the school that says you have to do all of it, or you’re not doing it properly. The other is doing what he called “cowboy agile” due to customizations.

Szalvay suggested that people wait until they have a firm understanding of Scrum and the process before they start to tailor it. “This way, they’re doing things intentionally and not unwittingly.” He also cautioned against doing “Scrum, but…” which he explained as “doing Scrum, but not this part of it or that part of it.”

Excella’s Cheng said Scrum can be tweaked to an organization’s needs, “but don’t lose the heart of it.”

“It’s like cooking,” he explained. “When you learn to cook, you follow a recipe. If it’s not to your liking, you tweak it so it comes out good. But it could also turn out inedible.”