SM role in a scrum proficient team

Last post 02:36 pm May 10, 2021
by Daniel Wilhite
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07:40 pm May 6, 2021

I am a developer working as a scrum master in a team where they have a pretty good understanding of scrum.
Development work aside, my scrum duties that I am doing are:

  • Leading stand-ups: We have a modified version which, in work from home times, ensures that information and impediments are clearly mentioned.
  • Leading retrospectives: Not unsimilar to the above, praising the good points, setting action points for the bad points and assigning them.
  • Doing administrative work in Jira: Modifying workflows, anything that needs back end work with Jira.
  • Statistics: I used to fill up data to show statistics; how long on average a certain story point takes us mostly, stuff that helps the PO to have an idea of how much work the team can handle in a sprint, this is being delegated to a team member as they are more statistics proficient.

The above takes me like 5-10% of my time at most, and I do not feel that I am indisposable for the team, as a scrum master.

SM duties according to the scrum guide:

  • Coaching the team members: I get this when the team is new to scrum, but not with a team that understands well scrum.
  • Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments: I am not sure what this is about, and how a scrum master can help with this.
  • Causing the removal of impediments: There is a couple of seniors in their discipline in the team, and they are good at raising these, so no need to delegate this to a sole person.
  • Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox: this, I understand, and I am doing that.

So my question is, scrum masters that are also part of the development team, what do you do and what are your responsibilities and how are you affecting the team.
For the scrum masters that are not part of a team, I understand that most scrum masters have multiple teams, so what are your role in a team that is well versed in scrum?

09:40 pm May 6, 2021

I once worked in a super-efficient team where each of us wore multiple hats but we also pushed out two releases per one-week Sprint. In a situation like that, we didn't think in terms of "Scrum says this..." We were hyper focused on creating value for our clients and our business.

10:53 pm May 6, 2021

You've outlined 4 things you are doing, none of which are really a Scrum Master's job. A Scrum Master does not lead events, for example.

There's clearly some work to be done if your team is to become self-managing, as described in the Scrum Guide. That work is the job of a Scrum Master.

02:28 pm May 7, 2021

@Mark Adams: I am not saying that the team is super-efficient, but they grasp scrum quite well, so coaching or such is not required.

@Ian Mitchell: Leading events is not SM's job, as per the scrum guide, the jobs, as I mentioned in the second part, mostly are not applicable, somehow.

My question is, how can I be more of a scrum master, and bring value in that regard. I can see how a team that just adopted scrum/agile will benefit of a scrum master, but not when the team is experienced in those methodologies.

02:36 pm May 10, 2021

In your original question you listed some Scrum Master responsibilities according to the Scrum Guide.  But you did not list everything.  Here is the full list. 

The Scrum Master serves the Scrum Team in several ways, including:

  • Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality;

  • Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done;

  • Causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress; and,

  • Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:

  • Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management;

  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;

  • Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and,

  • Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.

The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

  • Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;

  • Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization;

  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work; and,

  • Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.

By serving the Product Owner and the organization you will also make it possible for the Scrum Team to continue to evolve.  You are focusing only on the Scrum Team and thus only doing a third of your responsibilities.  As you help others outside the Scrum Team appreciate and understand the Scrum framework, you will make it possible for the Scrum Team to improve. 

You stated that "I do not feel that I am indisposable for the team, as a scrum master."  So focus on being necessary for the entire organization which will benefit your Scrum Team in the end.