In today’s digital-first landscape, speed, efficiency, and agility are paramount for businesses to survive. Only 37% of organizations say they have the technology and skills to keep pace with these new digital initiatives. (Source: MuleSoft’s “State of Business and IT Innovation” report). This stat speaks to the growing IT delivery gap – the gap between what businesses are asking IT teams to deliver and what can actually be accomplished with available resources.
How can this IT delivery gap be closed? In this blog, I will share how, via Agile Leadership methodology, a Scrum Master can enable their teams to communicate, collaborate, and deliver on projects more efficiently than ever.
What is Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master (SM) is the leader within the scrum team, ensuring scrum processes are being followed, helping to communicate for the team, unblocking impediments, and serving as the main facilitator. On integration projects, the SM coordinates efforts with the customer, external vendors, systems integrators, and the scrum team itself. While not coding or testing, the SM has authority and responsibility to ensure delivery commitments are being met.
The Scrum Master challenge
Historically in integration projects, a Scrum Master’s role is narrow and focused on the build process, getting stories to demo, and maintaining velocity.
But to help support the speed by which the businesses are demanding, the SM is uniquely positioned to deliver great value to the entire Software Development Life Cycle flow.
In order to be as impactful as possible, the SM must learn and adapt, much like the business around them. New skills, deeper understandings, and even a shift in mindset can be used as strategies to make this change. In a nod to the launch of Salesforce+, here are 5 steps to take on this new capacity as a Scrum Master+ so you can supercharge your project delivery.
1. Treat your scrum team as a professional services small business
The Scrum Master+ (SM+) is the driver for all aspects of functional delivery on the scrum team, not just a passenger. The SM+ is knowledgeable about the business deliveries, helps shape customer vision, ensures proper adherence to governance, maintains velocity, ensures code quality, monitors burn rate and project budget aspects, liaises with partner resources, and services as an overall coach and advocate for the scrum team.
An SM+ treats their scrum team as a fully responsible professional services small business, maintaining success on the micro level while supporting the macro program health.
As a result of this mind shift, the SM+ must be involved in all aspects of the services delivery for the project to ensure the “small business” flourishes.
2. Dive into the technology
Scrum Masters don’t need to be technical, but it goes a long way in enabling effective communication with developers and better decision making. A SM+ should feel empowered to dive into the technology even further. A SM+ can take technical training on the tools that the company or customer is using, and can even expand their service by doing high-level quality assurance testing, triaging defects, polishing user stories and requirements, and more.
With training, SM+s can validate an API request and respond to or answer associated questions. In turn, this ultimately frees up developer and QA resources from having to deal with unnecessary noise, thereby making the overall sprint velocity and deliverable quality better. Getting a test login to the Salesforce QA instance can help validate API responses, understand business requirements, and even allow developers to see their hard work at work — showing what the APIs deliver to the end user.
3. Understanding the building blocks of work
Work decomposition is how large complex initiatives are broken down into smaller components that can then be built by specific scrum teams. By breaking work into smaller components, we are better able to measure progress, deliver value, identify and work through complexities, and gain clarity into the full scope of work needed to deliver the business request.
Scrum Masters typically only deal with user stories or epics, but SM+ will understand the full scope of work and the entire journey. By understanding the value stream down to the story level, the SM+ can deliver the overall vision to the scrum team members, enabling them to deliver more well-rounded, end-to-end code.
4. Own it
Understand and own the additional challenges associated with the Scrum Master+.
Typical Scrum Master duties
- Facilitate team-level Agile ceremonies (daily stand up, sprint demo, sprint retrospective, sprint planning, etc..)
- Manage Scrum board, review relevant Agile KPI data and make changes, and/or escalate when needed
- Monitor and manage velocity/capacity results of the team
- Ensure the Agile process is followed and executed
- Actively manage sprint burndown, velocity, backlog health, sprints start/stop
Additional Scrum Master+ duties
- Act as a servant leader by listening, creating empathy, building consensus, stewardship, and empowerment
- Educate vendor and customer teams on MuleSoft values
- Manage overall staffing of teams
- Act as the main escalation point for peer project managers and Scrum Masters
- Manage billable time for the team
- Manage track team consisting of architects, business analysts, developers, and testers
- Liaise and facilitate communication across tracks and functional teams
- Create, update, and manage the weekly, monthly, and quarterly status reports (in app). This includes tracking all risks, issues, action items, and decisions (RAIDs) for related workstreams
- Identify and escalate issues and risks to program lead
5. Embrace the different hats
The Scrum Master+ intersects the Agile framework at every level. The mechanics of the workflow, especially in a large-scale Agile process, occur in several ceremonies. Each ceremony has specific processes and outcomes. The SM doesn’t play a part in every ceremony, but the SM+ will be aware and understand what’s going on within other disciplines.
Typically a Scrum Master would not engage in this level of discussion, but as a SM+ it’s important to be aware of major feature blocks being discussed. Along with the business analyst, system architect, and development lead, the SM+ can provide insight on how to best achieve new features based on the current implementation and can raise risks that may not be known at the portfolio levels.
Now that user stories have started appearing in the backlog, the SM+ can start forecasting and assigning user stories to specific future sprints. The SM+ will also facilitate quality assurance teams to draft test cases and, if needed, work with customer teams to produce valid test data in lower environments. Any dependencies that were called out in the Program Increment planning process need to be monitored by the SM+ to raise delivery risks, set expectations, and ensure proper order of delivery.
Handling and leading all sprint ceremonies is the main event for the Scrum Master+. In addition, all vendor-related actions are required, including resource planning, timesheets, and resource allocation. SMs+ are also responsible for team member coaching and ensuring the MuleSoft and Salesforce core values are at the forefront of the team’s performance.
Processing the release is the responsibility of the Scrum Master+. This requires deep knowledge of the user srotires, test status, code impact, branch strategy, and the actual release management paperwork process. The SM+ needs to communicate the scope of each release to set alignment with customer stakeholders and end-to-end testing teams.
The Scrum Master+ is one of the first points of contact for product support teams and can serve as the first triage mechanism. Since the SM+ has been involved in the full lifecycle of a feature, the SM+ is well-positioned to provide authoritative triage, can point production support teams to the right resources, and can engage the right build team resource. This leads to a quicker time to resolution for any production issue or outage.
Diving into a tech project can be a great way to start the journey to Scrum Master+ so you can enable your teams to close the IT delivery gap. You can get started with MuleSoft training courses, including self-paced courses here.