Scrum Master role and issues related to the team and project work

What is the Scrum Master role?

Scrum Master is a role in the team that deals with the application of the principles of the Scrum method, namely maintaining constant transparency of the achieved stage in the work process:

  • completed tasks,
  • upcoming activities,
  • problems encountered and their solutions found;
  • constant possibility for control and inspection of the results,
  • constant possibility for adaptation and correction of the product to meet as much as possible the current needs of the users.

Reference: Professional Scrum Master vs Professional Scrum Developer, stc-montreal.org

Generally speaking, the Scrum Master takes care of the smooth work in a team, and can successfully eliminate both external influences and internal team problems through constant communication and mediation in the form of a buffer between all parties. For example, the Sprint Review in Scrum is a delicate event and the Scrum Master should be there. References: Scrum Sprint Review meeting Questions and Answers, policymatters.net and Problems of the Scrum Master role with the Sprint Review and Scrum Sprint Retrospective meetings, nebraskasocialstudies.org

It provides both the necessary peace of mind and the opportunity to concentrate on the work of the development team to be able to perform their tasks as effectively as possible in the set periods and to deliver a ready and working product that can begin to recoup its investment and help maintain of the flow of continuous and adequate information with the Product Owner and the management of the company about the achieved results and the requirements to the characteristics of the product and the company policies that affect the overall work. Reference: Scrum problems, causes of failure and mistakes, phron.org

Also, it solves operational problems between team members, provides information and training on the principles of Scrum, and organizes workshops and events related to the distribution of tasks and exchange of information between the roles in the organization, which takes care of maintenance. to a large extent the efficiency of the work between the company units.

The next part of the report contains issues related to the Scrum Master role and the work of the product development team. The presented views on the topics are from the point of view of the Scrum Master role.

The Development team shares their idea that they want to nominate you for a Product Owner appointment and take over its functions, and for the Product Owner assigned to your team to go to another team and have no contact with it. Reference: The product owner is king, CIO.com

The answer of the Scrum Master: Scrum does not allow a space between the roles of Scrum Master and Product Owner, but for such a proposal to come from the developers, it is probably a personal conflict with the person who is currently in the role of Product Owner.  Reference: What makes a good Product Owner and what do they do?, scrumtime.org

I would initiate personal meetings separately with the developers and product developers, and then together with both parties to try to clear up possible misunderstandings and problems, and if they prove insurmountable to look for another person are the new role.

After 2 days you have a meeting to present the current progress of the product. Your Product Owner role and most of the Development team are on leave for another 5 days.

The answer of the Scrum Master: All team members should be familiar with the schedule of meetings at the beginning of the scrum sprint, so there should be no incompatibility with the leave dates.

Possible reasons would be a technical error or worse – a lack of understanding of team members of the importance of their presence at such meetings, which should be further explained by a training presentation by the scrum master. In this case, action must be taken either to change the submission dates or to look for options to interrupt the leave or to provide a temporary presence for the members of the team just for the presentation.

Business stakeholders share the view that the product is not progressing as expected.

The answer of the Scrum Master: There was probably a problem in communicating with the Product Owner about the real expectations of the stakeholders regarding the lead times of the product. Reference: Product Owner role in Scrum and real problem situations, vbprojects.org

This should be discussed with the Product Owner and forwarded to the development team at the next meeting, where possible adjustments will be made in the periods of the production stages to meet stakeholder expectations, or feedback will be gathered. for the impossibility of such an action with the necessary justification to be handed over to the management. Scrum is very different than Kanban so meetings can be easily arranged. Reference: Kanban methodology vs Scrum framework, libraryofmu.org

You notice that the team spends more and more time in the relaxation room in your office.

The answer of the Scrum Master: There is probably a problem in planning the time to complete the tasks (Product Backlog Items) for a given sprint, which are performed significantly faster than planned.

The possibility of shorter working hours will be discussed with the team at the next meeting and the distribution of Product Backlog Items will be assessed so that the working hours are more compact. Reference: Scrum problems with questions, answers, and explanations from the point of view of Scrum Master, ossalumni.org

The Product Owner role in your team goes on a business trip for 2 months in one of your customer support centers. No one has made any plans, no comments.

The client has not shared anything more, the Development Team does not know what they will work on and your colleagues are worried about the future of the project. Reference: Responsibilities of the Scrum Development Team, BVOP.org

The answer of the Scrum Master: Such an information blackout is difficult to take seriously. Before going on a business trip, you should have a meeting with the Product Owner to give him guidelines on the user’s work, tasks, and results that he expects to be performed in his absence, and a permanent remote connection can be maintained with him for the period of his absence to make adjustments and adaptations according to the needs of the client, which he will closely monitor. Reference: Scrum Master issues related to the Sprint Review event.

One of the programmers in the team asks the designer for regular adjustments to the visual concepts he offers.

The answer of the Scrum Master: It will be necessary to assess whether the request for permanent adjustments is due to a personal problem between employees, or a real inability of the designer to cope with the tasks. This can be done through individual conversations with stakeholders, and subsequently at the next meeting with the team to set the task of re-clarifying in detail the visual concepts that are required.

The QA specialists on your product testing team plan to integrate additional technologies, tools, and testing procedures. According to the product owner, this will double the work and the progress after the sprints will decrease.

The answer of the Scrum Master: A clear calculation of the resource and time costs associated with the desired new technologies and the real benefit of the quality assessment expected from the innovations must be made.

Based on the results, the Product Owner and stakeholders should be communicated which is in the interest of the overall vision of the project – compliance with the initial deadlines or increased monitoring of the quality level, and to make the necessary adjustments in the work. (Reference: Every Scrum Master must know the Kaizen principles, wikipedia-lab.org)

The designer and the programmer have decided to exchange part of their work on their initiative. The designer will take on some of the easy programming tasks, and the programmer will do parts of the interface.

The answer of the Scrum Master: Team members can distribute their tasks themselves, if they have enough competencies and time to perform both types of tasks well enough, I see no obstacle to such an exchange of tasks.

However, it must be monitored whether this action will have a positive or negative effect on the overall work process, and if problems are observed, it will be suggested that they return to their basic responsibilities to complete the project on time. References: “Real Scrum problems of the Scrum Master role during the Daily Scrum meeting”, mpmu.org and “Daily Scrum meeting: problems, questions, and answers”, bpedia.org

QA specialists want you to assign them good testing tools for the next sprints, as you will already be developing new components that require a different type of test.

The answer of the Scrum Master: The team members choose the tools they will use in their work.

The Scrum Master can only help to approve them as a resource, by talking to a product owner who also protects the financial interests of management, and possibly offer alternatives if they have the knowledge and if they think they can be more effective in some attitude.

The development team wants to replace the main software part of your product. We currently use the paid Enterprise popular environment. The license is paid by your customer, who does not think that the cost is a problem.

The answer of the Scrum Master: If there is an approval of the cost and the innovation does not change the characteristics of the product so that it no longer meets the needs of the customer, team members can change the way they work.

But it is good to have a conversation with the product owner, who can give a professional opinion on whether such a change would be really useful.

The Product Owner role requires the designer to increase communication with the product testing team.

The answer of the Scrum Master: There are probably problems and misunderstandings between team members, so there is a need for more communication. In this case, the scrum master must be involved in the communication and mediate the interaction between them to clarify the misunderstandings and find a way to work effectively.

Your client is not happy with the tests and wants to urgently increase the number of QA specialists in your team, with an additional 6 people as soon as possible.

He wants three more senior programmers to join the team by the end of the week. The project budget has been increased accordingly.

The answer of the Scrum Master: Regardless of the budget, the scrum team cannot exceed 9 people. The tasks will have to be redistributed between the existing team, or the one already increased to the maximum, to achieve the necessary results in the quality control, and this will have to be communicated through the Client’s Product Owner to calm down.

The director wants you to move temporarily, for about a month, to another team. He has discussed moving your role with Product Owner, who will take over the Scrum Master function in a month, as he said he has time for that.

The answer of the Scrum Master: It should be explained to the director that there can be no combination of the two roles for the Product Owner and the Scrum Master, because he will be ineffective in his work, often performing tasks in which there would be a conflict of interest, and the temporary transfer of the scrum master to a new team is also unlikely to lead to any positive result in such a short time.

Instead, he may spend time training another person to be another team’s Scrum Master, for example.