Talk Agility with Vivek – 28-Aug-2018

Talk Agility with Vivek – 28-Aug-2018

Vivek Jayaraman
1st Mar, 2019

How do you measure the performance of a Scrum Master or an Agile Coach?

This is one of the usual questions which people ask in the industry. This is because people think that the Scrum Master or an Agile Coach doesn’t do anything solid that can be measured. Scrum Master or an Agile Coach usually gets hired for a reason.

The reason could be Organization wants help in achieving its vision for a change e.g. faster releases, greater ROI, and such. To measure how things are progressing toward the change, they will have a list of things to measure which forms Key Progress Indicators. These indicators will help the Organisation to ensure that they are progressing toward its vision.

Now, if the Scrum Master or the Agile Coach helping the Organisation, teams, and all individuals inside the Organisation must be measured, they should be measured in terms of the indicators. If the indicators show positive results, then their performance is good.

Is Scrum Master supposed to collect team deliverables and status to present it to PO and Management?

In traditional methodologies, the module lead, team lead, project lead and sometimes even the project manager will act as delivery or courier boys. They collect the status and the work done by the team and then they either send it or present it to the management. But, in Scrum everything is transparent.

Everyone knows what the team is working on and what they are committed to. They need complete autonomy in working and delivering the commitment. Also, when they are done everyone knows it as well. So, there is no need of a role where they can communicate the status. Coming to Scrum Master, that’s not what the role was designed for. It's for an even higher purpose.

Scrum Master should handle only teams and help PO? What is next for a SM?

Scrum Master not only service the team and PO but also the entire organisation as a system. It’s a misunderstanding that Scrum Master’s service is only for the Scrum Team. Scrum Master in a way services the Organisation as a whole. If a certain process in an Organisation limits the team in becoming self-organizing, that becomes an impediment, and guess whose shoulders get heavy? A team’s performance indirectly affects business.

So, Scrum Master's focus is on not just the team and PO but the entire system. Scrum Master after helping a team become self-organizing, he/she can focus on the other teams and the scope widens. The scrum master then uses his/her experience and skills toward other teams. As the scope widens and the need for additional skill sets are needed. The Scrum Master over a period could step into the role of an Agile Coach.

Can a Scrum Master do code reviews?

Due to the crunch in the budget, many Organisations want Scrum Master to be part of the development activities. Scrum Master as a tester, Scrum Master as a product developer, Scrum Master as a business analyst, build & release engineer, and such. But, one needs to understand that Scrum Master is a full-time job. 

People with partial scrum knowledge think that Scrum Master doesn’t do an actual job. Unless the team is self-organized, they cannot remove certain impediments on their own and they need help. 

If the team is a self-organizing team, then the Scrum Master itself is not needed as a full-time person within that team. Now, can Scrum Master do code reviews, he/she can.

Again, one needs to understand that the role is unbiased role either business or technical. If Scrum Master, do code reviews it means that certain bias will happen toward the technical side and thereby pulling/pushing people toward their ideologies. 

It is not good for a self-organizing team. A question with “can” can be yes, but one needs to look at the big picture. If none is available, the Scrum Master can review the code, which is no harm. But my suggestion is not to prolong.

Is estimating using Story points a technique in Scrum? if not, why do scrum teams talk about estimating in Story points?

Estimating using Story Points is not a Scrum technique. Yes, Scrum Team sees the value in estimating using story points as it gives you clarity over the Product Backlog Item (PBI), provides collaboration, and planning poker is also fun. The story points to talk about the complexity of PBI, the amount of work needed, and the uncertainty involved.

While the time taken for completing an item may vary due to lot many factors, the amount of work involved, and the complexity remains the same. So, story points estimation provides value and that’s the reason Scrum teams do estimation using Story Points. Hence the name Agile estimation as well.

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