Who is responsible for updating the user stories and entering efforts? PO or Scrum Master?

Last post 08:49 am May 23, 2020
by Joshua Partogi
12 replies
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06:36 am May 5, 2020

Hello my friends,

I have a scenario to present in front of you as a Scrum Master and patiently waiting to hear your valuable suggestions on this :)

1. PO created the product backlogs with Description and Acceptance Criteria.

2. During the grooming meeting, who will share the screen with the whole team and change the stories based on the team discussions? 

    We enter Efforts during the grooming for the story as a whole which will include development, testing and design efforts. (Is that really required or the effort estimation in planning is enough?)

3. Similar to the grooming, who is entering Capacity, creating Sprint and editing stories or efforts during the Planning? PO or Scrum Master?

 

There are few conflicts in interest and I thought to get expert opinions on this :)

 

Thank you all!!

Sreeja.

 

08:41 pm May 5, 2020

It depends - you should work with the team to figure out what works best.

With respect to sharing the screen and updating the work in an electronic system during refinement, I would suggest that the Scrum Master doesn't do this. I've found that this puts administrative work onto the Scrum Master and runs the risk of the Scrum Master turning into the team's secretary rather than the team's coach. I prefer that the Product Owner takes on this work since they understand the state of the Product Backlog. However, I would leave the details of the execution up to the members of the team.

I'm not sure what you mean by "entering capacity, creating Sprint, and editing stories or efforts". I wouldn't expect too much additional discussion of refinement at Planning. I can see some refinement if the Product Backlog changed as a result of the previous Sprint Review and new items were added or items were reordered. The bulk of Sprint Planning should be around developing a cohesive Sprint Goal and beginning to figure out how the team will meet that goal.

11:47 am May 6, 2020

Hi Thomas,

Thank you so much for the great inputs! Really appreciate your valuable time!

I understand that a Scrum Master wouldn't do such editing work on backlogs. However, based on the current situation in the team, I may need to extend my support on this as well. As you mentioned, i will definitely try to come out of it gradually when the things are in place :)

As per your comment - "I'm not sure what you mean by "entering capacity, creating Sprint, and editing stories or efforts"." - During the grooming, I create Sprints (say Sprint 1, Sprint 2 ...) and keep those approved backlogs under specific Sprint for the team to view in the planning. During the planning, I enter Capacity, leaves taken, holidays of the team under Capacity. In total, I am sharing the screen and doing all these on behalf of PO, as PO is away for a while.

While entering Capacity, I keep 6 hours max for each of the team members if they are purely working on this project and i am not including the meeting hours hoping that it will anyways match with the 2 hours which i minus each day.

Thank you again!!

Sreeja.

 

02:48 pm May 6, 2020

Hello Sreejak, 

I would not pay more attention to the problem such as " Who will share a screen during the planning?" and prefer to point out two statements that you have made in your response to Thomas which possibly are highlighting even severe problems.  

I create Sprints (say Sprint 1, Sprint 2 ...) and keep those approved backlogs under specific Sprint for the team to view in the planning. During the planning, I enter Capacity, leaves taken, holidays of the team under Capacity.

and 

In total, I am sharing the screen and doing all these on behalf of PO, as PO is away for a while.

So do you mean that the Dev Team only selects the PBIs from the "groomed list" for that specific sprint? It might not be appropriate to have such a rigid structure as it may result in reduced responsiveness. 

Second, Scrum teams cannot and should not function in the absence of the PO for a long duration. Do you think that the PBIs are appropriately prioritized to maximize the value? Who is working with stakeholders, clients, and customers to deliver the best value?

Do you think it might be appropriate to raise these two as impediments in your next retro? 

03:17 pm May 6, 2020

Hey Aditya,

Apologies for the vague details from my side!

Its quite a matured team and all of the team members are experienced with many of the projects using Scrum. Moreover, in this short period, there is a technical manager as well as a very well experienced BA (considering as a temporary PO) is handling the backlogs, sprint goals and the customers.

As a Scrum Master, I am handling all the scrum events and coaching the team the value of the Scrum and its rules which is really comfortable with this well versed team.

My only concern was that am i interfering the technical manager's and temporary PO's work by updating the contents during the grooming and planning. They themselves requested me to do this on behalf of the PO.

As I have a great long years of work experience with this team, I am glad to support on this and it gives a lot of freedom to get into the details and to understand the nook and corner of this project, thus to gain the confidence of the team in this period.

I hope this ambiguity will end soon when the team is stable with the pertinent roles.

Thanks for your time :)

Sreeja.

 

 

03:30 pm May 6, 2020

I'm seeing a lot of fundamental problems in the process you're describing.

The idea of creating multiple Sprints before Sprint Planning doesn't make sense for a truly agile environment and appears to be more indicative of upfront planning and scheduling rather than maintaining an adaptive backlog and planning for one Sprint at a time based on an ordered backlog and capacity.

Basing a Sprint purely on capacity also seems to be closer to pushing work to the team rather than the team pulling work that they believe they can complete within the Sprint timebox.

The fact that the Product Owner is unavailable shouldn't have a huge impact. The Product Owner should have identified someone to take on each of their responsibilities. The entire role could be shifted onto one person or various responsibilities could be delegated to different individuals. Consider that the Product Owner is accountable for Product Backlog management, but may delegate the work to the Development Team. If your organization has multiple Product Owners for different products, I can also see a Product Owner stepping in to temporarily take on this role, or someone else from outside the Scrum Team.

As a Scrum Master, you should be focused on coaching. From what you describe, I don't see much self-organization of the team around developing solutions to this problem. 

05:28 am May 7, 2020

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the genuine feedback!

I learned couple of good points from your comments. I will come back to this forum in a couple of days after doing my analysis and the workaround.

Thanks everyone for the open comments!! :)

 

Sreeja.

06:54 am May 7, 2020

Along with very insightful points from Thomas & Aditya, Iet me add some thoughts. I read some words which are worrying me - 

"keep those approved backlogs" - Who approved those? I assume you meant a discussion between PO and Dev Team, and not a one-sided decision.

"doing all these on behalf of PO" - Why would PO do this? As Sprint Backlog is owned by Dev Team, why shouldn't they update Sprint details in ALM tool. You may ensure this is done to have transparency with the PO. I understand in most teams, the SM has to end up doing these administrative activities but try to coach the team to own accountability within Dev Team.

" I keep xx hours max for each of the team members" - Why would you decide that? What do team members feel about it?

During Backlog Refinement, the work is predominantly happening over the Product Backlog, which is owned by the PO, so it is his/her responsibility to do the needful. Again, as Thomas also said, SM ends up doing administrative activities, but should not.

11:19 am May 8, 2020

I totally agree Anand!

The reply to few of your concerns - "keep those approved backlogs" - Who approved those? The backlogs are created by the Technical manager and an expert BA (who is temporarily writing user stories in the ALM). In the grooming, these are getting approved after the thorough discussion with the development team and the technical manager.

"doing all these on behalf of PO" - Why would PO do this? - This is the area i need to work on. If the dev team is of 6 members team, who will own the responsibility of changing it? May i know how do you handle this?

" I keep xx hours max for each of the team members" - Why would you decide that? - I do this purely based on the dev teams' decisions. As few of them are purely working on this project, they are agreed to make it 6 hours on this project excluding the meetings. Others have selected 4 or 5 considering their work in other projects.

We value the voice of development team and has a great relationship with them. Even though i am managing a project in offshore where the timezone is different, they value my time and keeping all the meetings accordingly. In this project I work as a Scrum master and the dev team includes both onshore and offshore resources. 

Anand, its a great conversation! Really appreciate your time!

 

Sreeja.

 

 

 

10:08 pm May 8, 2020

Hello Sreeja,

My reply may sound cocky, but I could not help to write some of the observations that I found are essential for you to address.

This is the area i need to work on. If the dev team is of 6 members team, who will own the responsibility of changing it?

Do you think that the development team understands that together they own the sprint backlog? If yes, what are the impediments that you think are keeping them to update sprint backlog collectively? If no, do you think that coaching may be necessary for this aspect? 

As few of them are purely working on this project, they are agreed to make it 6 hours on this project excluding the meetings. Others have selected 4 or 5 considering their work in other projects.

First I assume that you are using "the project" to denote the single product. 

Also, it is quite possible that since some of them are working on multiple "projects", an issue of focus may arise. For the same reason and many more, it is advised that the dev. team members should not work on multiple teams. In that sense, the team is not living the fundamental value of "Focus". If they were, the question of adding the efforts or updating stories by PO or SM would not have arisen. Probably because they are lacking the focus to work on a single sprint backlog, they are requesting you to do this work and hoping they can pick up where they left delivering the quality increment. In my opinion, this is a big red flag. While it may look that you are helping them but it is actually solidifying their bad ideas about the Scrum. You should not want to do that.

Thanks

03:12 pm May 10, 2020

Sreejak Keyan, "May I know how do you handle this?" - Ask the team. I explained to the team that they owned the Sprint Backlog, not just during the planning meeting but for the entire Sprint. Most of the time, they have apprehension, not because they think it is administrative work, but because they do not know exactly how to do it.

10:22 am May 14, 2020

Hmm. interesting! I love this forum as it gives great information each time I come here and this is my first question in this forum.

Thanks Aditya and Anand for the open questions and support!!

Aditya - I understand the concern you have pointed. With the current situation developers need to work on different projects simultaneously to complete the work. I know the focus is a challenge but they need to abide with it.

However I am planning to include that in the training.

And, Anand also pointed out the same thing. A great training will give them an understanding of the importance of owning the backlogs :)

Thanks guys! I really appreciate your time and the knowledge!!

Sreeja

 

08:49 am May 23, 2020

Only the people will be doing the work who estimates the Product Backlog items, in this case it is the development team. The Product Owner may create high level content for the Product Backlog items, but the development team should refine it themselves if they found it's not good enough for their consumption.