This post is from mountaingoatsoftware.com by Mike Cohn.
Agile teamwork can really help to minimize handoffs. Teams using a sequential development process have become accustomed to handoffs between specialists. Analysts hand their work to designers, who hand it to programmers, who pass it on to testers. Teams that are new to Scrum often do not go far enough in eliminating these handoffs, wrongly assuming, for instance, that the programmers should finish programming a product backlog item before handing it off to the testers or that analysts should work at least one sprint ahead of the rest of the team.
High-performing Scrum teams, however, have learned to do a little bit of everything all the time during a sprint, thereby eliminating large handoffs. To do this effectively, scrum teams must make three changes: favor talking over writing, make handoffs very small and very often, and mix the size of items that are brought into each sprint.
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