How Scrum Master should show the team performance to the higher management as velocity is not very accurate way?

Last post 01:26 pm August 20, 2019
by SUMIT AGRAWAL
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12:33 pm August 18, 2019
01:39 pm August 18, 2019

My first question: Is it the Scrum Master's job to show team performance to higher management?

In Agile Software Development, the most important priorities are to deliver working software to stakeholders, elicit feedback on that software, and respond to that feedback by continuing to frequently deliver working software that accounts for the feedback. If responding to feedback on working software is important, then the best way to demonstrate team performance is by measuring their ability to deliver working software and their ability to satisfy customer needs. There are several techniques out there to measure these aspects.

Velocity doesn't measure user or customer satisfaction or the ability to respond to feedback. Velocity is more closely related to the rate at which work is getting done. It says nothing about the relationship of that work to satisfaction. In addition, velocity is tightly coupled to estimation of the work, which is very specific to the team doing the work and is refined over time - velocity is not stable across teams in an organization or even within a single team over a long period of time.

04:28 pm August 18, 2019

Hi Thomas,

I agree with you that scrum master's job is not to show the team performance to higher management.

But if management asks him to 'Report' the status of how team is performing then in that case what should be Scrum Master's take on this?

06:28 pm August 18, 2019

But if management asks him to 'Report' the status of how team is performing then in that case what should be Scrum Master's take on this?

@SUMIT AGRAWAL, Good question! Could you help provide some more info on what the manager is looking for that is not already made visible and transparent by the Development Team and the Product Owner through the Product Backlog, Scrum Board etc? Is it not possible for the manager to get this info himself?

In all honesty, even I am curious as to what the boundaries of management/managers are and how and when they should interact with the Scrum Team. I know its the opposite of what Scrum says, but its equally important to understand their (management's) function and future especially when you have to teach people or when the same question(s) is being asked of you. I had started a similar thread to get answers to this. Hopefully, there should be some clarity.

06:55 pm August 18, 2019

But if management asks him to 'Report' the status of how team is performing then in that case what should be Scrum Master's take on this?

Why does management need a report on the status of how the team is performing?

Consider that the Manifesto for Agile Software Development is very clear on thinking towards this: "Working software is the primary measure of progress." In fact, the idea of software delivery is the most prevalent concept in the twelve principles that underlie the Manifesto. Customer satisfaction is the highest priority and this satisfaction is achieved through delivering valuable software. Working software is delivered frequently. Working software is how you measure progress. All of this seems, to me anyway, to indicate that there are only two important measures: delivery of working software and customer satisfaction. Everything else follows from this.

Scrum is built on empiricism - the knowledge needed to make decisions comes from experience. In order to achieve empiricism, you need transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Transparency ensures that the process is visible and everyone has a common, shared understanding of what the process. Inspection is looking at all of the artifacts - the Increment and the backlogs of work in the form of the Product and Sprint Backlogs - and progress made so far to ensure optimal value delivery. Adaptation is being able and willing to adjust the plan, the process, and the product. The team's progress and performance should be made clear to stakeholders through transparency and inspection - these stakeholders should have access to the artifacts that they need to see and be able to see, first hand, the work that is being done toward their goals as it is done.

Given this - why would management need any special report? If you are truly using Scrum, are your artifacts transparent and open for appropriate inspection? Are the appropriate stakeholders being invited to the right events to see for themselves what is happening? Even if you aren't using Scrum, can you take advantage of customer satisfaction and delivery to demonstrate progress and performance, perhaps with transparency into the process?

Now, this doesn't address who should be doing this. But if the work is transparent, doesn't the entire team take responsibility for ensuring that everything is appropriately reflecting reality rather than just the Scrum Master? Perhaps there's room for a coach or Scrum Master to help facilitate delivery, transparency, and inspection activities, but the activities themselves become a shared responsibility for all involved.

09:06 pm August 18, 2019

if management asks him to 'Report' the status of how team is performing then in that case what should be Scrum Master's take on this?

The Scrum Guide says:

“The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t.”

The Guide also says that a Scrum Master has a service to provide to the organization, including:

  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;

If management demonstrated the behavior you describe, and asked for status reports, do you think it might present opportunities for a Scrum Master to fulfill an important part of his or her remit?

12:21 pm August 19, 2019

If management demonstrated the behavior you describe, and asked for status reports, do you think it might present opportunities for a Scrum Master to fulfill an important part of his or her remit?

I believe Ian hit the nail on the head here. In addition, we as Scrum Masters have to keep in mind that everyone (developers and management included) experiences and moves through change at a different pace. It's not uncommon to see senior leaders and/or middle management who do not understand their role in helping Scrum / Agile software development be successful.

This may result in them doing what they've always done despite asking the development teams to 'be agile' or 'do scrum'. It may also result in the request for reports around capacity, carry over, velocity, or anything else that quantifies activity instead of outcomes. 

Consider the challenges they may have moving from a waterfall or command and control style to something that better aligns with the agile principles. How can we leverage the Scrum values to help teach or coach them so they can better understand how they can help create an environment in which the teams can thrive? 

01:26 pm August 20, 2019

Thank you everyone for answering my query.

In nutshell, I now understand that there is no need of preparing any separate Report to show the scrum team progress / performance. The key to measure that is Working Software and Customer Satisfaction.