5 New Year's Resolutions Scrum Masters Must Consider

By Anirban Guha on December 30, 2015

New Year's Resolutions for Scrum Masters

Scrum Masters are the leaders of any Scrum team. They have to ensure that the morale of the team is always intact and resolve any issues that may arise during the course of the project. They are responsible for coordinating with product owners to ensure an environment where everyone involved is focused and motivated. And most importantly, Scrum Masters are challenged with the responsibility of leading teams to project success. This requires various leadership qualities such as honesty, ability to delegate, dedication, a positive attitude and the ability to encourage and inspire.

As we have approached the end of the year, it's time to make some New Year's resolutions. Scrum Masters are a key decision maker and play a pivotal role in a software team. Here are 5 New Year's resolutions Scrum Masters must consider:

1. Manage smaller stories

Given that software development is a fairly unpredictable business, practicing scrum works much better when working with smaller user stories, because they improve the flow in a sprint, allow for a smoother burndown, and more importantly, greatly reduce the risk of failing the sprint through risky estimations. The Scrum Master should be able to break down user stories into manageable chunks with help from an architect. He/she should see it at a task level, rather than fewer large items.

2. Build multifunctional teams

If a team member has to leave in the middle of development, due to unavoidable circumstances, it can create unnecessary impediments in development. The Scrum Master should be able to remove this gap and know how to build cross functional teams with a blend of expertise in testing, coding, functional implementation of user stories and architecture analysis.

3. Create an environment of learning

It is imperative that once the agile team is set up, no individual must be ignored. A good Scrum Master views each member of the team as a value adding individual and not merely a resource. He/she creates an environment of learning and growth, by coordinating training sessions, workshops and certifications. Taking care of the team also means removing any hindrance the team may be facing, coordinating or facilitating meetings and working in tandem with the product owner to ensure that the product backlog is optimized.

4. Help the team in optimal estimation

A Scrum Master must participate in a Planning Poker session. While the Scrum Master is not directly responsible for the estimation (unless he/she has a very strong technical background and is asked to participate), the Scrum Master is responsible for enabling the team for optimal estimation.

The user stories are broken down into small stories (tasks) by the Team or a Technical Architect (who is a part of the scrum team). The stories should be broken in such a way that it can be easily assigned to an individuals and story points can be assigned to such tasks.

5. Encourage knowledge gathering 

An effective Scrum Master constantly keeps him/herself updated with the software world. The best Scrum Masters have knowledge in technical aspects as well as market trends and fluctuations and specific knowledge that will equip the team better in achieving their goal. When the Scrum Master engages in actively increasing his knowledge, he/she has a better opportunity of helping the team address issues and resolve impediments.

What’s going to be on your list of New Year’s resolutions for next year? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  

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