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Scrum Master related situations concerning Product Owner, Development team and managers

The article describes possible situations related to the Scrum Master role which is typical for Scrum teams.


We will look at possible reactions to action on the part of the Scrum Master role in the team in order to address these issues. All situations are based on the description of the Scrum Master role presented by BVOP.org

Read another article by Atlassian presenting the Scrum Master role and this time compared to the Product Owner.

The article is based on the chapter Scrum Master role published in the BVOP Ultimate Guide.

The director of your organization wants to start developing three new products, and tells you that for the largest product in terms of volume, he wants a team of 10 people. The available specialists for all new products are a total of 15 people.

I will offer 2 options for team distribution:

1 case If it is absolutely necessary for all three projects to start at the same time:
For the two small products, the Product Owner and Scrum Master will be the same for both teams. Reference: The Product Owner role in Scrum, projectmanagement.cloudaccess.host Each team will have 3 developers because Scrum says that’s the minimum. Thus, 8 people from the total number will be used. There are 7 specialists left for the big product, of which the developers will be 5, Product Owner and Scrum Master. This option does not require 1 person to take two roles, which will affect the quality of work. At the same time, the requirement for a minimum number of developers and the availability of Product Owner and Scrum Master roles is met.
2 case If it is possible to develop the two small products sequentially:
Then for them we will use 1 team of 3 developers, Product Owner and Scrum Master. Reference: Professional Scrum Master vs Professional Scrum Developer, stc-montreal.org, 2019

5 people from the total number will be engaged for these two projects. For the big project, there will be 10 8 developers, Product Owner, and Scrum Master. In this variant of distribution also it is not necessary for 1 person to occupy two roles.

The director is of the opinion that lower priority products do not need to have a Product Owner role.

I do not agree with him. Product Owner is a role in the Scrum team with its tasks and responsibilities. He is the link between the business and the team and is responsible for creating a valuable product. Reference: What makes a good Product Owner and what do they do?, scrumtime.org, 2020

The Product Owner meets with stakeholders, creates the vision of the product, compiles and prioritizes the tasks in the product backlog, explains them to the Development team.

The director insists that because he has many years of experience in managing people, he wants to be the general manager of the largest team, to set tasks on a daily basis and to request reports from each member of the team.

I will be strongly against it. There is no such role in the Scrum team, nor is there a hierarchy. If this happens, the principles and processes in Scrum are violated and this will lead to a tense work environment with prerequisites for errors and obtaining a low-value product. No outsider can set tasks for the team, they set them for themselves and for one sprint, not day to day. There is no practice in the scrum team to make a report scrum, there are meetings in which it is shown what has been done so far.

The director tells you that for each product, the client has appointed a project manager, who in case of urgent requests, will assign to each member of the team, a priority task for the day.

The client can appoint project managers, but they are not allowed to assign tasks to a team member. They can only communicate with the Product Owner and notify him of urgent requirements. He will decide whether to add this development requirement or not.

One of the senior programmers of the teams told everyone that since the team is large and he has a lot of experience, he will officially accept the role of Team Lead. He adds that he will choose technologies, offer a way of work to each member of the team, and monitor the progress of the tasks.

There is no Team Lead role in Scrum, so this programmer will not take it. The whole team will decide together what technologies they will use to be the ones they have worked with, they feel confident and calm and will work efficiently and with quality. Each member of the team is capable and has the right to decide for himself how to work. Progress is monitored jointly by the entire team.

A new employee in your organization, hired soon, tells you that because he is a novice specialist and is still on probation, he prefers not to interfere in team decisions and does not want to take responsibility for working on the product.

I will reassure him so as not to worry everyone has been a beginner is some field. I will remind him that in Scrum teams, decisions are made together, discussed and everyone agrees with the decisions and therefore everyone is responsible for the result. I will encourage him to dare to express an opinion, because it is not known whether it will not be the easiest solution to a problem.

You understand that most of your team members have already talked to your HR manager and received permission to work outside the office.

It is not a problem to work outside the office, but the efficiency of work and meetings will not be at the same level if everyone works in the office. I will emphasize that Scrum meetings and events remain and everyone must participate via video link. I will insist on the Sprint Review when we present to clients that everyone should come to the office.

A member of the Development team introduces you with joy and enthusiasm that outside of working hours, he has written a large collection of program code that he can easily add to the product, and through it speed up many of his tasks and some of those of the rest of the team.

I will applaud him for his enthusiasm, but I will remind him that Scrum works with sprint planning and transparency, and the other members of the team need to know what he is doing. I will suggest to the next Sprint planning in front of everyone from the Scrum team, to present what he has written, to discuss and if approved by all members, the Product Owner to update the Product Backlog.

The development team offers you the idea that you set an estimated time to complete the tasks, and that they focus on their work and set aside time for the tasks. They shared this with the Product Owner role, and he was quite pleased.

The development team is the one who determines how long they can complete a task. He makes this prediction based on his experience, knowledge, practice, skills, previous experience with similar tasks. This prediction is made on Sprint planning, so they can’t miss it and focus on work that isn’t planned yet.

The teams of the three parallel products being developed by your organization have decided to reorganize. Their desire is to be divided into teams according to their profession and qualification. One team will be programmers, the second designers, and the third quality control. You have been nominated as an activity coordinator.

I will not agree with such a division, because it will violate Crossfunctionalily. His idea is to have people in a team with different competencies to cover the skills needed to make the product. In addition, the division of qualifications will doom the team with a lower one to failure. It is good to have lower and higher qualified people in the team and for the former to learn from the latter.

The development team shares its view that User Story contains too little information and wants more details.

We immediately arrange a meeting with the Product Owner, because he is the person who has to give explanations about the User Story and answer questions in order to be clear and understood by all developers.

Product Owner has asked one of the team members not to temporarily report problems and defects on the product publicly in your defect recording system, but to fix them yourself.

This is at odds with one pillar of Scrum Transparency. Everyone on the team needs to know what the others are doing. This member should tell the Daily Stand up about the problems and find a solution while they are young and will be solved with less effort. Reference: Scrum problems, causes of failure and mistakes, phron.org 2019

Thank you for reading this report. If you are about to become a Scrum Master or Product Owner, always be careful about such situations. Remember what you learned today and always try to avoid such issues.

Working with Scrum may seem easy but interaction with teams and stakeholders may be challenging.

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