Scrum Master Challenges - Invensis Learning

The Agile methodologies have been aggressively gaining traction. Currently, two of the most popular agile methods are Scrum and Kanban. The Scrum framework introduces a standard workflow that maximizes continuous output along with productivity. It comprises of three roles, one of them being Scrum Master. Being a Scrum Master can be challenging. In this article, let us explore some of the most common Scrum Master challenges and ways to overcome them.

 

Who is a Scrum Master?

Scrum Masters are professionals charged with introducing agile development concepts to a business. They do not sit at the top of the scrum hierarchy; rather, it is a position indicative of the experience and knowledge the individual possesses—the Scrum Masters relay information between the executing Scrum team and the business. A Scrum Team is usually 5-9 individuals who come together to create product increments of the highest quality. These information exchanges help prioritize activities and maximize productivity as per organization goals and the team’s abilities. 

Scrum Masters are responsible for:

  • Ensuring obstacles to the implementation process are addressed and eradicated
  • Crafting work environments that enhance team performance
  • Creating better communication flows and relationships between team members
  • Managing mutually beneficial interactions between the company owner, the team, and other stakeholders
  • Minimizing distractions and interruptions to productivity 

Scrum Masters are facilitators based on their extensive expertise. They differ from project managers by coaching concepts as opposed to closely monitoring execution for business gain. 

Overcoming Common Hurdles Faced By The Scrum Master 

Role Expectations

Scrum masters and project managers are often mistaken for interchangeable roles. Project managers ensure businesses generate revenue through project tasks and activity completion. Project managers have the authority to ensure employees are sticking to predetermined workflows and project plans. Scrum Masters, on the other hand, are charged with introducing foundational concepts to change the way employees and stakeholders look at the business process. 

Scrum Masters need to be clear about their objectives. They need to offer crisp outlines of their job responsibilities to ensure confusion does not occur. Often Scrum masters help Project managers facilitate better business practices in an organization.

Change is Difficult

Scrum masters are tasked with introducing new methods beneficial to the organization. While teams might be keen to optimize productivity, all the team members may not be so inclined. Change in business environments can be intimidating. It creates an idea that thriving in the work-environment is solely contingent on adopting the new strategies. 

Introducing change incrementally and with an “ears to the ground” approach makes the transition easier for employees. As opposed to a full 180, when different methods are added in pieces, it gives employees time to adapt, ask questions, and see the impact of the change themselves. When employees can do the same activities better by tweaking their approach, they will likely retain the practice for better results and recognition. 

Watching Timelines

Part of the Scrum methodology is introducing sprints. Sprints are short time frames in which the scrum team must complete a designated set of activities. In theory, this concept sounds like efficiency and effectiveness embodied. However, desired results may not be achievable in hour increments. 

Consider the Daily Scrum or meeting to discuss ongoing activities and adherence to planning. Ideally, the event should stay within a length of fifteen minutes. Team members may have important questions and queries that need resolutions or to simply voice concerns. This will automatically push into other allotted activities when it spills over from the time limit. 

Ensuring Scrum team members stick to time limits can be difficult. Introduce better communication methods for constant information sharing that extends beyond the daily scrum. Concentrate your discussions on solving problems as a unit. If individuals have concerns, be sure to address them for better output. If information sharing is constant, problems are addressed before the execution times arrive. This enables seamless execution and movement toward project completion. 

Practical Changes

When sprint workflows are decided, the Scrum master is not at liberty to make any changes. Scrum teams are encouraged to complete the predetermined plan as is. Effective sprint plans are carefully thought out and considerate of business objectives. However, it would be unrealistic to presume urgent input from the business owner, clients, and other stakeholders would not impact day to day activities.

Knowledge is power; the more insight offered by industry participants, the better-streamlined processes can become. Scrum masters need to identify what input could positively impact business and add them in as required. 

Keeping the Team Comfortable 

One of the biggest hurdles Scrum masters face is the diverse area the team is spread across. Businesses are likely to encourage remote working and make it difficult for the team to come together. Network, cultural and regional issues can make planning and execution difficult. However, a cohesive team is a non-negotiable concept.

Scrum masters can easily address this concern by introducing better technology and applications optimized for communication on the go. Listen to where your team has concerns and address them. When the team is more comfortable, internal activities are more likely to run smoothly. 

Conclusion

Within organizations introducing agile methods to their practices, it is always better to be prepared. Understand the common challenges faced by the Scrum Master and use the ways we discussed above to overcome them. Easing employees into a new management style is always easier with intervention from upper management and a delicate approach to change. Do not rush this process. Allow your team to grasp the foundation to achieve better results.

By pursuing popular Agile certification courses from an Accredited Training Organization, individuals and enterprise teams can learn about multiple Agile frameworks and Agile Project Management techniques to select the best methodology to meet the needs of your business. Some of the popular Agile Certification Courses that individuals and enterprise team can take up are:

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Billie Keita is known for her exemplary skills in implementing project management methodologies and best practices for business critical projects. She possesses 10+ years of experience in handling complex software development projects across Europe and African region. She also conducts many webinars and podcasts where she talks about her own experiences in implementing Agile techniques. She is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)®, and has published many articles across various websites.

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