The Scrum Master is a key role within any team that is looking to deliver a product utilising the Agile Methodology. Often defined as a ‘Servant leader and Coach’, which at its core is focused on ensuring the team delivering the product are focused on the sprint and product goals, supporting them in completing their work packages, known as ‘User Stories’ and removing any impediments that are slowing progress and work.
The Scrum Master is not there to manage the team – rather they are in place to support and coach team members in best practices and facilitating flow of work from ‘To do’ to complete. The Scrum Master must be an empathetic, people focused enabler – always ready to make time to hear about an impediment, work through conflict and support the team. Scrum Masters know that the greatest resource in any project is the team, and the best way to maximise the value is by putting the team in the best position to deliver.
In this article we have outlined the average day in the life of this exciting and challenging role for MI-GSO |PCUBED Scrum Master delivering with our clients. Clearly, lots of other exciting activities are part of being a Scrum Master, but the below give an insight into some of typical events that are key to maximising a team’s potential!
09:00 – 09:50
Check Emails, check the Kanban Board
A visual tool showing an overview of the current work status. It’s designed to increase productivity and maximise efficiency.
A Sprint is a short, defined time period when the Scrum team works to complete a set amount of work. Usually contained to 2 weeks, the Sprint allows the team to prioritise and plan their work to achieve maximum value.
10:00 – 10:15
Organised and facilitated by the Scrum Master, the daily stand-up brings the whole team together for a status check – to make sure that everyone is aligned and has visibility over what is going on, good and bad. It focuses on 3 questions;
10:15 – 10:30
Open door session with team members about impediments
Scrum Master’s assist the team with solving problems, or ‘impediments’, by coaching the team to find solutions. Not all impediments can be solved by team members. In these cases, the Scrum Master will escalate the impediments to the team lead or manager to be resolved.
The SM will support the team lead or manager in resolving these issues. The key is not to solve the issue, as the Scrum Master is not the expert, but facilitate a resolution by ensuring issues are handled correctly.
11:00 – 11:30
Check in with the team lead – flag appropriate impediments
11:30 – 12:15
Meet with the product owner for coffee or working lunch
The product owner is accountable for ensuring maximum value from the product possible as a result of the Scrum team’s work.
They do this by keeping the product goal in kind, make priority decisions on user stories and managing the product Backlog.
A key part of the Scrum Master role is to support team members via coaching to ensure they can maintain their workflow and assisting the team in solving problems. Importantly, the SM is not there to solve problems for them, but rather utilise powerful questions, which are open-ended and empower the team to choose the direction they take to best solve the issue.
This technique assists the team member’s growth and efficiency in problem solving as they have been empowered by the SM.
12:15 – 13:00
1-1 session with a team member – problem resolution
13:00 – 14:00
Backlog refinement / sprint planning / sprint review
The Scrum Master must ensure that the team conduct a variety of key meetings which drive the momentum of the Sprints with the increments of the project.
Sprint planning kicks off the Sprint, where the SM gets the team together to commit to the backlog items they can complete in this Sprint.
The Sprint Review is the opportunity for the team to review what has been done and what hasn’t during the sprint. They also look at how the environment of the project has changed. This allows the Product owner and team to refine the backlog, as well as prepares for the next sprint. The focus is on improving so the team can deliver a better product.
The Sprint Retrospective is held at the end of each Sprint and looks at what went well, and what can be done better. This focuses on improving the overall system so the team can work more harmoniously and find flow together.
14:00 – 15:00
Check with DevOps / Test automation
DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.
DevOps is complimentary to the Agile methodology and often Modern DevOps includes agile developed software.
15:00 – 16:00
Facilitate a team workshop on team building / impediments
Workshops are a key tool for the SM to get the team together and achieve multiple aims with one meeting.
These can take the form of team building scenarios and events, problem solving sessions to remove impediments, discuss better ways of working, or how they can improve the agile processes.
16:00 – 17:00
Check in with the team
Update scrum journal / Kanban board in preparation for the next day!
The above provides a glimpse and some insight into what a Scrum Master does and can do for a team when the Agile Methodology is utilised effectively. Whilst many differing Agile Methodologies are out there, a core theme to most of them is how critical the Scrum Master is to the success of any team. Through coaching, support and a ‘Servant Leader’ mind set, Scrum Masters allow teams to flourish and drive forward their product goals.
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