What is the Scrum Master role in the Scrum framework and some case studies?

Every successful project requires an organized and disciplined team.
To achieve this, it is necessary to pay attention to the needs of each team member and to have an individual way of thinking.

This means that everyone has freedom in their work and the performance of their tasks. When a person has freedom, he can let his creative work, and thus good results can be expected.

This is where Scrum comes in.

Scrum is a framework that allows a lot of freedom and development for a team. Its flexibility and transparency stimulate the achievement of optimal results through adaptive methods and work processes.

It is important to note that in Scrum teams there are no hierarchies and no division between managers and subordinates. Scrum offers an adaptable way for teams to have a leader (Leader/coach) who leads them to the team’s common goal, which is the development of successful projects. In this way, the whole team participates in the organization and development of one project. Reference: “The Scrum Development team: some example situations for the Scrum Master role“, https://scrumtime.org/the-scrum-development-team-some-example-situations-for-the-scrum-master-role/

The Scrum Master team is responsible for the internal organization of the teams in the Scrum team.
Let’s clarify what a Scrum Team is made of.

Scrum Team

There are three main parts to a scrum team.

  • Scrum Master
  • Product owner
  • Development Team Usually composed of 3 to 9 members, Reference: “Responsibilities of the Scrum Development Team”, https://bvop.org/learnagile/development-team/ learn details here

The role of the Scrum Master is to coordinate the development of a project according to the needs of the client and the team. Using various established methodologies and frameworks, he organizes and trains development teams to maintain sustainable team productivity. It identifies potential or current problems in the organization, team, product, etc. And I am taking measures to fix this problem as quickly as possible without affecting the development of the project.

The adaptive (Agile) way of working allows the delivery of a working product in a much shorter period.

With the help of daily or weekly checks, it is ensured that potential obstacles are quickly detected and removed. They are removed by adaptations in the project. Scrum is divided into Roles, events, and tasks which are discussed in daily meetings (Daily Scrum). These meetings ensure the transparency of the team and ensure that the team works with the newly acquired information about the needs of the project.

The scrum master is a filter for the development team and protects them from unnecessary stress and tension. He coordinates directly with the Product Owner regarding the development of the project and determines the most correct approach for optimal results.
Using adaptive processes, the Scrum Master is very flexible and can be interpreted in different ways according to the situation.

A few real-life case studies of the Scrum Master role

The Development team shares with you their idea that they want you to be appointed Product Owner and take over his functions, and the Product Owner assigned to your team to go to another team and have no contact with him.

This is a very delicate situation and clearly, there is a problem between Dev. The team and the Product Owner. In short, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner should be two separate individuals. So everyone can concentrate on their job and responsibilities. In this case, if accepting and organizing a transfer of a position from Scrum to the Product Owner, a new Scrum Master must be appointed. Reference: “What is the Scrum Master role in the Scrum framework?”, https://pgov.org/what-is-the-scrum-master-role-in-the-scrum-framework/ In any case, however, it should be done after a deep study of the situation and why the team wants to have no contact with the current product owner.
Of course, this is a very delicate situation and in my case, I would consult HR before taking any steps in this situation. On the other hand, the product owner should not be giving tasks and ordering the team, causing stress I would also require the product owner to pass all communication and requests through me and I would after filtering this information share it with the Development team.
In this way, the team will be protected from outside interference.

Business stakeholders share their opinion that the product is not progressing according to their expectations.

In this case, I would first review with the Product Owner the previous sprints and whether they met the time estimates. If the User Stories themselves are ready according to plan, but the tasks of the Scrum board are not updated internally every day, this does not mean that there is no development on the project/product. Of course, here we assume that the team works well and respects the goals of each sprint. In such a case, I would defend the team’s position and explain that the adaptive way of working allows for flexibility and avoids the constant stress on the team of the type of (when are you ready, aren’t you ready, let’s finish it, start the next one, etc.) If there is an estimate and the team is working on it. They have all the freedom to use that time and deliver the product in my opinion. If they finish early, that’s fine, and the team is constantly adapting. If the team fails to meet the deadlines and therefore the stakeholders are not satisfied with the progress of the product, I would look at where the delay is coming from and why. In this way, in the next estimate, this factor that delayed development can be added and subsequently eliminated. For example, if the team has blocked because the story is not clear or for other reasons, but they do not share it. In any case, I would stand behind my team and protect their interests, but in case the team is not productive enough due to laziness or other reason, I would certainly discuss this directly with the affected person and how the situation can be improved.

You notice that the team is spending more and more time in the games and entertainment room in your office.

A working day is usually 8 working hours. Of them, let’s say that there are 2 breaks of 15 minutes each and a 1-hour lunch break that is not included in these 8 hours. First, if they spend more time but their work is done and progress is not affected, I see no reason to deprive the team of high morale. Exactly the opposite. This game room is very often visited when the brain is already processed and we need a little relaxation. In that case, I’ll most likely be with the team in the Games Room.
If Bakloga does not move, the work does not go well, and the team is constantly in the gaming room, measures must be taken there already in terms of the strict distribution of tasks, but not in the order of deprivation from the gaming room, etc. (We are not children) but rather in a professional manner. In such a case, it is best for the HR department itself to take measures if someone is paid but does not work. I would personally set an example and devote more time to these people to help them do the work and use the games room at opportune times.

The Product Owner role in your team is going on a business trip for 2 months to one of your customer’s support centers. No one has made any plans, no comments. The client hasn’t shared anything more, the Development team doesn’t know what they’ll be working on, and your colleagues are confused about the future of the project.

The fact that there is no plan built by the product owner before he leaves is not a good thing, but in this case, before he leaves, I would discuss the important items to prioritize in the next 2 months during his absence. That way the team will be able to work on the Backlog and when the Product Owner returns they will be able to discuss it in detail.
On the other hand, the fact that he is going on a business trip does not mean that he will not have access to the systems and will not be able to maintain the priorities of the project. Remote work is something completely normal nowadays, and with good organization, it will be possible to participate in daily meetings.

One of the programmers on the team asks the designer for regular corrections in the visual concepts he proposes.

This is not ok and it should not be in the teams that require constant changes from the other. So these changes may not have been approved or may be in the backlog. I would speak directly to that developer about these regular changes and why they are needed.
If a real need is identified, it will be discussed with the product owner and stakeholders to be added to the backlog and formally distributed to the design team.

The QA professionals on your team who test the product consider integrating additional technologies, tools, and testing procedures. According to the product owner, this will double the work and the progress after the sprints will decrease.

It is important in this situation that QA professionals share with the whole team why they think these changes and additional test procedures will improve the product and how they will add value to that product. It is possible that initially these additions slow down the progress in the sprints but deliver quality and (bug-free) products. If that is the goal and they can prove that there will be real value in adding these tests, then this presentation would also convince the product owner that there is a need for integration. The product owner can then discuss with stakeholders whether the project budget and requirements can afford these additional tests and whether their value is sufficient to implement them.

The designer and the programmer decided on their initiative to exchange part of their work.

Cross-functionality is something completely normal in the scrum team, as we specified in situation 10 of the last module. The important thing here is that all team members are familiar with this arrangement because if it is self-initiated, it is possible to lose transparency and thus break the Scrum framework. I don’t see a problem with them exchanging part of the tasks if the programmers are qualified for the given tasks. Even in this way, it creates a dynamic atmosphere and they can freely say that they worked on the whole project and not just on one feature.
That way, everyone will be proud of the overall product as they will have taken part in many of the tasks for its development.

QAs want you to assign them good testing tools for the next sprints since you will already be starting development on new components that require a different kind of testing.

As we know in Scrum, tasks are not assigned, but work is done together.
In this case, the QA specialists are more knowledgeable in the field of tools and I would discuss with them and the product owner the needs of the project so that the most adequate and correct tools can be selected for the product to meet the latest standards.

The Development team wants to replace a core part of your product

I would discuss each change with the requesting persons in the team so that I could understand the reason for this change. More ideas for Scrum Masters: “Tips for the Scrum Master to deal more easily with the Development team in Scrum“, https://www.islandjournal.net/tips-for-the-scrum-master-to-deal-more-easily-with-the-development-team-in-scrum/ If they want to change it due to a lack of functionality, I would ask them what alternatives are available. Because according to the client, the license cost is not an issue. Which system would work best for the team’s needs can be considered and then integrated. In such a case I would discuss a trial period of a few weeks/months before a full replacement. In this way, it will be possible to test whether the results are improved, the same, or decreased with the new program. Accordingly, a basic plan for the integration of this software part of the product can be made.

The Product Owner role wants the designer to increase communication with the product testing team.

In this situation, I would play the role of Middle man and provoke them to share and communicate in the daily Scrum meetings and the rest of the time. Sometimes the lack of direct contact with other teams may be for no other reason than that they haven’t had the chance to communicate. I would create an atmosphere where the team is united. In this case, I believe that organizing a Team building type can help the team to communicate more in the professional and personal environment.

Your client is not satisfied with the tests and wants you to urgently increase the number of QA specialists in your team, with an additional 6 people, as soon as possible.

Increasing the composition does not mean that the results will be increased. It may even harm as it will be difficult to maintain the principles of Scrum. Here, the most important step, in my opinion, is to review just the organization of each member and identify the weaknesses and problem areas that create poor test results. I would explain to the client the Scrum principles and the usual compositions and I would invest in training the current staff so that the results can be improved.
If the maximum number of 9 people in the project is respected and we are few and the project is big and we need this help, I would consider in which team how many people can be hired to optimize the results.

Your director wants you to move temporarily, for about a month, to another team.

In this case, it is about one month. With a well-crafted plan and if the product owner can take the time and has the necessary knowledge, I don’t think it would be a problem. We have to be adaptable. In theory, it is good that the 2 roles are performed by two people, but in this case, it is perhaps something urgent that needs support for about a month. It is important to specify the deadline and to know that the position will not be taken over by the product owner. This is where team communication comes in.