Scrum problems with questions, answers and explanations from the point of view of Scrum Master

The following report presents various problematic situations that the Scrum Master role in the team may face. Each described situation has an explanation and an action plan to solve the problem.

All problems and reactions are presented from the point of view of the Scrum Master role. The publication borrows many ideas from the definition of the Scrum Master role created by Reference:

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.

The reaction of the Scrum Master role: We will definitely pay the necessary attention, the more significant project in terms of need and volume, but I also want us not to lag behind the other two.

I would suggest that we adhere as much as possible to the Scrum recommendations in order to minimize the risk and to implement the 3 projects on time and with quality. For this purpose we can use at least 3 developers in the two smaller ones. And for the bulk to direct all the other 9 people. In this way we will guarantee a total team of about 11 people, taking into account me and the Product Owner.  Reference: The Product Owner role in Scrum, 2020

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

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: Following the Scrum process for this product there is no way to remove this basic role. I know that his efforts will be focused on larger projects, but I think it is good to pay the necessary attention to this, our client often has valuable requirements and guidelines on what we need to achieve and it is good that this communication is constant and continuous so that we meet the deadlines and the standard. It’s almost like the Kanban methodology. Reference: Kanban methodology vs Scrum framework, 2020

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, set tasks on a daily basis and request reports from each member of the team.

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: I and the team are very grateful for the support you want to express on our way to completing a truly unique project. But I will try to outline some basic practices in the Scrum processes that we follow and that helped us reach these results, namely:

  • There are no clear leaders and roles in Scrum.
  • In our team we follow a process of Cross functionality, ie most of the people are complementary.
  • The team takes on the responsibilities themselves
  • The team often determines its own tasks and provides guidance in collaboration with the Product Owner on what would be appropriate for the customer, what we can and cannot do. Reference: What makes a good Product Owner and what do they do? ISSN 2652-5445 2020
  • The daily requirement and imposition of tasks may reduce the capacity of our technicians, as well as moral, as so far they are extremely well able to self-organize and check what has been done so far.

I am sure that you are now aware in more detail how exactly we function, of course, I will be happy to discuss it personally if you need it. Greetings

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.

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: Let me share with you some of the main driving forces that shape the Scrum process in this project. In case of urgent issues that have arisen more than once, the team handles with the help of Scrum Master and Product Owner. Reference:

The tasks on a daily basis are discussed within the team among all stakeholders who are really aware of what has been achieved so far and what is needed to complete the sprint on time. Reference: About the Scrum Sprint Event, 2020 Any external imposition of additional tasks would delay the already started user stories and is not a practice for us. If you still think this measure is necessary, I would be happy to meet with the Product Owner to discuss this issue.

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.

Reaction of the Scrum Master role: First of all, I am very happy with the fact that you will contribute with your experience to “sprint” with this new project, there are definitely serious visibility from the high management board and you will be of great benefit to us.

Let me mention that there is no team lead role in Scrum. Reference: However, in order for everything to go smoothly, I will ask everyone related to the project to strictly follow the process (Scrum), which gave a great result in our latest development.

The team consists of exactly 11 people with me and our Product Owner and is really the maximum that works effectively and is recommended to be for such a large project. It is because of this fact that self-organization is very important and that everyone has the freedom to choose which task, they will cope with most quickly and professionally. The progress of the tasks will definitely be monitored at each stage of the product increment by all of us together and on a daily basis.

Ivan and I will be there if anyone encounters any difficulties and we will immediately focus our efforts there to continue the work.

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.

Reaction of the Scrum Master role: I am glad that you will be part of our team, I am sure that tempering in “paint” in a certain efficient way, however, will be very useful for you in the future in the company. Keep in mind that this will be appreciated.

I will share with you that the Agile practice gives a unique chance for a novice specialist to be side by side with the most experienced one and to exchange experiences. Reference: It’s called Pair Programming and it’s part of Scrum, so we’ll definitely implement it and I’ll be happy to give you ideas, no one will take responsibility from you, on the contrary, you can only be useful. You know, after all, in the end, we all decide together which way to go. Greetings and welcome to the team.

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

Reaction of the Scrum Master role: I definitely don’t think it would be a problem, as long as everyone continues to be at the right level and cope with the tasks. It would be a rather strange situation for this to happen without us discussing it internally before it comes to HR. But even if it happens, I will not mind, as long as we are able to make our daily meetings so that we are constantly informed about how things are going, if there are any problems, etc.

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.

Reaction of the Scrum Master role: This is really great, tomorrow at our daily meeting we will discuss what you did and how to insert it into the increment, I guess it will have a positive effect on the performance time of a few hundredths. Congratulations again, but there is one small detail that I will be happy to discuss as well, namely overwork.

I know how much work you put into this project, but do it only as a last resort, otherwise, you risk a serious burnout, and I do not want you to throw all your strength just here, try to distribute, take this as friendly advice, I definitely do not judge or rebuke you. . Every balance in life is great, not every extreme. See you tomorrow, congratulations.

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 devote their time to the tasks. They shared this with the Product Owner role, and he was quite pleased.

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: I’m glad that my team entrusts me with such a difficult task, but in Scrum, the time to complete the project is definitely taken with the participation of everyone. Rather, I would rely on everyone to share roughly how much time it takes to complete a specific task so that we have an idea of ​​where we will be able to finish in the sprint.

The Product Owner will definitely also be aware that this is an important part of the overall job and in order to guide the customer how much time we need we will all need to talk to each other and make a collective decision about what to reach the customer as an expectation.

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 will be designers, and the third will be quality control. You have been nominated as an activity coordinator.

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: I am glad that you have such confidence in me and you want me to be the coordinator of the activities. But I will ask that we stick to the Scrum process, and in particular to the cross-function it offers us. I am aware that it is not always pleasant for you to step out of your comfort zone and express yourself in a slightly different nature, but this is still one of the reasons why they hired us.

We have shown more than one professional quality, which allows the company to use us, if necessary in different areas and fields of action. Think for a moment, if each product is left without QA and DEV and consists only of designers, then how will they be able to write the code, check it, perform their functions to deal with the interface and all this to happen on time and Professionally?

We have already tried is not a good practice, let’s stick to the current working process. And if you have any difficulties or concerns you can always contact me or Product Owner for assistance.

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

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: I guess this will be very common and normal in product development. I will immediately share this with the Product Owner so that he can provide us with the necessary additions/clarifications in a timely manner. Reference: Scrum Master related situations concerning Product Owner, Development team and managers, 2020

The 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 himself.

Reaction to the Scrum Master role: I would definitely not admire such behavior in the team. I would initiate a meeting with everyone, at which everyone would present arguments about why this had to be covered up. Rather, it would be right for everyone to be aware and to find a cardinal solution that is also long-term, such as “sweeping under the table” would be very risky and unprofessional behavior.

Whatever the defect, we should all be aware of it until we eliminate it, if it concerns the client, then it is right for him to be informed about the difficulties we face so that there are no unpleasant surprises afterward. Reference: 5 Hurdles That Scrum Masters Commonly Face, 2018