CHOW #62- “Bite what you can chew” Responsibilities a Scrum Master can take

Barbara Jones had been a Scrum Master for a year with a team and had done a good job getting the team to a good level maturity in Agile adoption. The need for her support had reduced over time. It occupied Barbara just for a few hours per week on an average. Barbara approached her manager Jeff Sanders for additional responsibility to be SM for a few more teams. Jeff listed projects which were possible candidates for Barbara. Some of these were just starting up and had no designated Scrum Master as yet. Other projects in the list were long-running and at some level of Agile maturity. Jeff wanted these projects to get to higher levels of maturity. Given that Barbara had about 30 hours of available time per week, how should she go about deciding how many more projects – new & long-running – she can take on as SM?

Suggested solution:

Firstly, if you were expecting a precise model for estimating Scrum Master effort, I am sorry to disappoint you! The current state of the art is more based on expert judgement with a few thumb rules and common sense.

For those who are in the know of things in the Scrum world, the fact that Barbara as a Scrum Master is spending just about 10 hours per week may come as a surprise. Normally, it is at least 16+ hours / week even for a team has reached a high degree of maturity in Agile adoption.

So, the first point for Barbara is to introspect on the state of the current team when she started out as the Scrum Master and the time she was spending per week then. She needs to look back and identify the areas where she had made significant impact. For example,
– What was the level of collaboration in the team, say, between Developers and QA? What were her actions to improve that?
– How did the Developers work with the Product Owner? What were the challenges and how did she enable a smooth working relationship over time?
– What were the intra-team challenges at the start and how were they addressed by her so that the team achieved a high degree of self-organization?
– What was the state in terms of engineering practices and what improvements were enabled by the her as the Scrum Master?

The above introspection would enable Barbara to get a point of reference – her own current project in terms of actions, effort and time in getting a team from point A to point B.

With the above reference point and with a quick assessment tool, she can review the candidate projects that she is considering and make her choices. It is recommended that she take up no more than two teams – may be one team in an early stage of Agile adoption and another team in a fairly mature state, wanting to achieve higher levels of performance & productivity. In all likelihood, she would then have her hands full and move out of her current project entirely.

What do you think?

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