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What is a Scrum Master?

https://youtu.be/aS8-QhJnf8U

In this article along with the cartoon supplied let’s talk about Scrum Master role and discover the three major areas of Scrum Master responsibilities.

I would like to start with the fact that Scrum Master is a management position (normally as per organization chart this role should be equal to middle management or higher). Though this certainly not the main characteristic of this role, here I would like to highlight this fact because one of the major expectations from Scrum Master is to resolve the obstacles and impediments  (or problems in other words) on the way of Scrum Team.

Still, doubt?

Well, it would be hard or even impossible to expect that someone titled as Scrum Master but without having real power would be able to resolve the problems. Therefore, it’s a management position. More information on this I explained in my other article that could be found here: Can we say that Scrum Master is a Manager?

Now let’s return to the main discussion on what is a Scrum Master. The reason why I decided to start this topic by explaining that Scrum Master is a manager because one of the major areas of responsibility of this role is that:

  1. Scrum Master removes the Obstacles and Impediments on the way of Scrum Team

And by having said that, we should be clear that this role is empowered with management status, though this role should act in a relatively different way which is known and Servant Leadership.

Now let’s talk about the second area, where I would put the Facilitation area. This does include the facilitation of Scrum Team activities for sure, but not limited to only them. Attending the meetings, events, discussions effectively and appropriately is not such an easy thing as it could have seen at first glance. Scrum Master needs to ensure that the right people are involved when needed and all the meetings and events are healthy and effective. This for sure considers that Scrum Master will need to explain to the Scrum Team the purpose of different Scrum events as well as other meetings and discussions and how to attend them effectively. Saying that the second manor area of responsibility would sound as follows:

  1. Scrum Master is the primary facilitator for the Scrum Team

Finally, since we are speaking about someone who is titled as “Master” it definitely considers that this person should be an expert in a particular area. In our case, we are talking about Scrum + Master, so this person should be an expert in Scrum Agile. Based on this, the third major area would be teaching Scrum Team on Scrum Agile.  This does include teaching the team about Scrum framework, values, and principles but it also considers the Agile values and principles and industry-leading best practices. So, the third major area is the following:

  1. Scrum Master teach team on Scrum Agile

The above three are the major Scrum Master responsibilities. And do not forget to watch the cartoon supplied 🙂

What is Product Backlog?

What is Product Backlog?

If you’re doing your first steps in an Agile environment that’s a good question to start from. In this article and video materials, we will review what is Product Backlog against four major questions:

  1. What is Product Backlog?
  2. Why we would want to have a Product Backlog?
  3. Who manage the Product Backlog?
  4. How Product Backlog is sourced?

Let’s start…

1️⃣ What is Product Backlog?
Product Backlog known as an Agile Scrum artifact. However, in our day’s it’s not limited to Agile Scrum and used in a variate of workflows and approaches. Overall Product Backlog could be represented and a box or container that contains everything that is known about the product in prioritized order. That includes User Stories, Technical tasks, Bugs/ Defects, Exploration issues etc. The main keyword is everything!

In other words, Product Backlog is the ultimate to-do list that contains everything that needs to be done toward the completion of the product development.

2️⃣ Why we would want to have a Product Backlog?
Product Backlog is needed to communicate the way how the product would be developed. It also answers the question when a particular deliverable could be expected as per priority. As it contains everything that is now about the product, stakeholders could get the transparent ability to understand product development roadmap.

It’s absolutely valid to compare the Product Backlog to a plan in traditional project management as it addresses the deliverables (scope) and timeline (based on priority).

3️⃣ Who manage the Product Backlog?
The product Owner manage the Product Backlog and responsible for prioritization. Though Product Owner could allow team members or other stakeholders to contribute to the Product backlog it’s necessary to ensure that all contribution goes through the Product Owner, and he/she is aware of any changes in Product Backlog.

4️⃣ How Product Backlog is sourced?
Product Backlog is fulfilled from all possible sources. However, primarily we can highlight the following sources:
– Users feedback
– Business Team
– Development Team

The above three are usually the major source for Product Backlog.

I hope now after reading and watching the video you have much more sense on the purpose of the Product Backlog, but feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions on this.

 

Backlog Grooming and Refinement

Let’s talk about the event in an Agile environment that is known as Backlog Grooming or Refinement.

So what is Backlog Grooming / Backlog Refinement?

It’s rather a series of events in an Agile environment during an active sprint with the main aim to get the Team to be prepared for the next sprint.

Why we would want to maintain these events and what problems do they solve?
These events needed for both the Product Owner and Development Team.

The Product Owner gets questions from the Development Team regarding the most prioritized product backlog items that potentially could be implemented within the next sprint. Such activity helps the Product Owner to define the business direction more precisely and minimize the risks of making mistakes in the business requirements. The questions that normally come from the Development Team will challenge the Product Owner against the uncertainties that require may more details and overall will help confirm the common sense of chosen business direction.

The Development Team gets a better understanding of business and could feel the impact and involvement in the decision-making. Additionally, there is a big chance that some non-routine Product Backlog items will require analysis before they can be evaluated from the complexity standpoint in a more or less accurate way. And during this event, we can get that addressed.

Summary:
The entire team gets a better understanding of what to do next and the level of effort needed to accomplish that. The Product Owner’s decisions become more matured and well-defined. The Development Team gets an understanding of the business trend, feels the involvement in business decision-making and could be much more accurate during the Sprint Planning with the evaluation of efforts needed to reach the Sprint goals as they can address technical gaps and uncertainties in advance.

Scrum Events overview

Prescribed Scrum Events – let’s quickly review them

In total, we have four prescribed Scrum Events. Here they are:

1️⃣ Daily Scrum
Length: 15mins;
Roles: DevTeam
Purpose: Check the progress toward Sprint Goal and highlight the issues which may interfere to reach the goal.
Note: This event also is known as Standup, because in some organizations and environments they decided that they want to stand during the event.

2️⃣ Sprint Planning
Length: 2hr/week of Sprint;
Roles: Scrum Team
Purpose: This event is designed for the entire Scrum Team where the main purpose is to set the Sprint Goal and plan the work needed to fulfill the goal.

3️⃣ Sprint Review
Length: 1hr/week of Sprint;
Roles: Scrum Team + Guests
Purpose: This event is designed for the entire Scrum Team and guests (usually represented by stakeholders). The purpose is to analyze the last sprint toward the Sprint Goal and overall review the progress in order to come up with the next steps.

4️⃣ Sprint Retrospective
Length: up to 3/hr;
Roles: Scrum Team only
Purpose: Scrum Team only event, guests aren’t welcome. The team discusses all the aspects of their life including processes, relations, environment etc. in order to understand what they are doing in the right way and what needs to fix, adjusted or either improved.

The above are the prescribed events in Scrum or in other words minimum that can be considered to make Scrum happen. Of course, four events does not address unexpected operational meeting and grooming /or refinement sessions.

If you would like to learn more about Scrum events and probably become a certified Scrum Master, please consider course Scrum in 60 minutes where we will review all the events and overall learn all the fundamentals about Scrum Agile framework.

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