All teams want to do better. All stakeholders want to get it faster. The highest-performing teams in software use Scrum Masters to achieve both.
Things to know about how Scrum Masters can accelerate project velocity:
- What is scrum?
- What is a scrum master?
- Critical Roles to Lift the Burden on Developers
- What is the Theory of Constraints?
- How Scrum Masters Can Unblock Constraints to Accelerate Velocity
What is scrum?
Scrum is an agile project management framework that emphasizes teamwork, transparency, and working iteratively.
When successfully using scrum to deliver services and products in short cycles, teams reap benefits including continuous improvement, fast feedback, quicker adaptation to change, and accelerated pace from idea to project delivery.
What is a Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master acts as a coach and guide, facilitating communication and collaboration within their teams and ensuring scrum framework is followed.
Critical Roles to Lift the Burden on Developers
Developers are arguably the central critical element of getting software projects done. Because of this, when a software development team fails to deliver the desired features in the expected time and quality, organizations often problem-solve by over-hiring developers.
Instead of trying to achieve more development by hiring more developers, we should turn to other members of the development team to accelerate delivery.
We have also written about how SDETs and DevOps Engineers can make your developers’ jobs easier and get features delivered faster.
The scum master is another role that takes weight off the rest of the team and allows you to move fast while still building high-quality systems: ones that can perform efficiently, can be maintained easily, and are tolerant of faults in their connected components.
What is the Theory of Constraints?
The Theory of Constraints is a problem-solving methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor, or constraint, that stands in the way of your project. The core concept of this theory is to identify and address that constraint in order to optimize processes and strengthen the project performance.
The Theory of Constraints also establishes that spending time addressing and optimizing non-constraints will not deliver significant benefits or impacts; only improvements to the constraint will achieve the goal. In other words, the methodology focuses on the “weakest link in the chain.”
How Scrum Masters Can Unblock Constraints to Accelerate Velocity
The ways that Scrum Masters can unblock significant constraints to support your team’s performance and keep the team moving at high velocity are:
A high-performing Scrum Master provides the team with guidelines and framework for effective communication. They can organize and set the tone for meetings that keep the team on topic and defer discussion of deep dive topics that can drown a standup.
Scrum Masters can set agendas and organize your feature demos so that the interested parties are able to quickly understand what the team built and know what is coming next.
Communicating about the activity and plan of a project keeps the stakeholders calm and the team focused.
Tracking external dependencies
Any useful piece of software needs to interact with the outside world.
Often this interaction is around things like code libraries, APIs, data sources, test environment resources, and required data, which are just a few of the things that can send developers, SDETs, and DevOps engineers on research expeditions.
“You can find all those docs in SharePoint,” is a phrase that strikes fear into delivery teams and those that are experienced will not commit to work until all the necessary resources and requirements are identified.
Scrum Masters can be invaluable to hunt out, catalog, arrange and provide a guidebook to the necessary inputs for a software engineering feature. If you have all the requirements in one place, well organized and navigable, the team will save hours wondering where everything is.
Research and clarification
The needs of the product owner are often stated in the language of the business and have additional details required before a developer can start working in earnest.
When the product owner needs information from system A to be available in system B, there are a bunch of questions we need to ask before we should start writing code:
- What is the location of the data in system A?
- Do I need to request permission to get it?
- Is it a database that I will need to write SQL to get from, or is it an event stream that I need to get subscribed to?
- Who supports the dependent systems?
- Are they kept up 24/7 or should I expect extended outages?
- Are we required to pass security audits?
- What is the process for release into user testing environments or to production?
Going into development without answers to these questions is sometimes possible, but almost never advisable. If we take the risk and commit to building against a system that goes away in the middle of the sprint, we are going to not make our commitment to complete important features.
Leveraging Your Scrum Master to Accelerate Your Projects
The distinct skills and approach that Scrum Masters bring to projects can allow visibility, certainty, and stronger team commitments that make your project go smoother and ensure it is delivered on time.
The Scrum Master is an essential role that can help clear the path and remove constraints when you need to get projects moving faster and get features to market.
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