Do you dream of quicker results, greater flexibility and better quality products? Today, many IT companies are using Agile methodologies to achieve just this, and to great effect.
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Scrum teams are an integral part of Agile. Broadly speaking, they help develop complex products in the most efficient ways possible.
Scrum methodology is typically used to build better software – for example, to run marketing departments or even to write a book, like I did.
If you’re new to the term Scrum and only ever thought of it in connection with the sport of rugby, let me enlighten you on the important responsibilities of Agile Scrum Masters…
What are Scrum Masters?
Scrum Masters help teams and product owners to coordinate all their product activities effectively. However, bear in mind that Scrum Masters are never bosses; they hold peer positions, set apart only by their knowledge and responsibilities.
In essence, they are important Servant Leaders, being central to team activities. Indeed, way more than simply team assistants, effective Scrum Masters deeply understand how teams work from the inside and are constantly finding ways to help improve delivery flow.
Another important thing to remember is that while a team’s deliverable is the product, a Scrum Master’s deliverable is a high-performing, self-organising team.
What are the responsibilities of Scrum Masters?
- Coaching the team, product owner and business, enabling them to apply Scrum framework and related Agile practices themselves to their best advantage.
- Fine-tuning processes and team dynamics to achieve greater cohesion with all the stakeholders. This includes bridging the gap between customers and various team members.
- Being constantly available to the team to help them remove any impediments, address distractions or disruptions that may be keeping them from successfully completing their work.
- Establishing a supportive and secure environment where the team works at its best.
Want to know more about Scrum Masters? Check out this article on The Scrum Master’s Role. or check the article on what does a scrum master do.
Why hire an external Scrum Master?
If you are struggling to find a good internal Scrum Master, hiring a professional external Scrum Master could be the best solution, perhaps until you find an internal employee to satisfactorily fill the role.
Companies often benefit from bringing valuable external expertise with new ideas, which are not influenced by the company's culture or colleagues.
One of evolution4all's client has the rule to bring sometimes an external Scrum Master to provide new ideas and approaches to internal people.
A well-recognised external Scrum Master brings a good deal of authority to your organisation. Team members can be highly motivated by new ideas and influences, giving them the impetus to drive changes they had previously never thought possible.
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On-going access to someone who has used Agile methodologies and can share this knowledge is invaluable. A Scrum setting helps teams figure out clearly the best way ahead.
What are the benefits of hiring an external Scrum Master?
Self-management and cross-functionality of teams are key. Don’t forget that as an equal, the Scrum Master facilitates rather than manages team operations, enabling them to learn as they go.
Rather than micromanaging and directing, the Scrum Master creates an environment that enables delivery teams to learn and perform at their very best.
In short, external Scrum Masters provide five main benefits:
- Better customer satisfaction - Scrum Masters improve team delivery commitments and capacity planning for sprints, largely by identifying hidden tasks that would otherwise hinder progress.
- Quicker time to market - The world changes rapidly and customers often need to make fast and frequent changes, making flexibility key. Scrum Masters help improve organisational processes by measuring cycle times and making the necessary adjustments to reduce time to market.
- Better quality- Scrum Masters ensure that product testing is not left to the end of a sprint. The premise is that quality is better if defects are resolved early on.
- Improved progress visibility – With an external Scrum Master on board, product development’s progress is clearly visible. This transparency means that businesses can make well-informed, fact-based decisions as development progresses.
- Increased collaboration and ownership - The Scrum Master is responsible for improving team collaboration and ownership of tasks, while providing a trusted, safe environment for teams to operate.
Why are more companies hiring an external Scrum Master?
Nowadays, external Scrum Masters are in high demand as companies finally embrace Agile, nearly 15 years after it first arrived on the development scene. Becoming Agile is top of the agenda for many organisations.
The business world seems consumed by the knowledge that software is “eating” the world, and that the speed of innovation is ever increasing.
Agile really is a hot topic and companies are hiring more Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters than ever before, providing numerous job opportunities in the process. In fact, the market is fast becoming saturated.
According to an HP survey of 601 developers and IT professionals, two-thirds of respondents described their companies as either "pure Agile" or "leaning towards Agile," while only nine per cent were "pure" or "leaning towards" the more traditional waterfall development approach.
Many companies we talk to say they are already totally Agile and they don´t need any help. But in reality, they are far from Agile.
Why? Their teams have no experience in fulfilling Scrum roles in a practical sense. They wrongly think that applying Agile’s Scrum techniques from the book is enough.
Meanwhile, others are aware of the need to call in an extra help to implement Agile and Scrum and they benefit greatly from the fresh, new ideas that Scrum Masters bring to their organisations.
The fact that there are no good Scrum Masters on the market to hire as employees is another reason for taking on an external Scrum Master Consultant.
Yes, I know I just mentioned that the job market is becoming slowly saturated with Scrum Masters, but most of them are woefully inexperienced.
This is because they have often spent their careers as developers or managers and recently shifted their career path to the Scrum Master role. As a result, many so-called Scrum Masters are still only learning about what to do and how to go about it.
What should you be aware of when hiring an external Scrum Master?
Make sure they have practical experience
Managers or developers often call themselves Scrum Masters or fulfil both roles at the same time, but they often don’t have the practical experience necessary to be a good Scrum Master.
Make sure that the candidate has a few years’ relevant Scrum Master experience under his/her belt.
Do not hire people from the big consulting companies
Big consulting corporations may have prestige in the market but often they sub-contract junior freelancers or even graduates for Scrum Master roles. If you are looking for the best, do not hire from these corporations.
An IT background is important
Scrum Masters need to talk to developers about issues that may arise so technical experience makes it far easier for the entire team to stay aligned. Developers also tend to have more respect for a Scrum Master with a technical background.
The Scrum Master´s job is not just about "hugging and sharing peace"
Scrum Masters should be empathetic and good with people; however, some of them might exaggerate a bit. Sharing love, peace and hugs are all very well, but it doesn’t usually have any significant impact on the team or the organisation.
Scrum Master or junior Agile Coach?
Some consulting companies and agencies try "selling" Scrum Masters as junior Agile Coaches. Therefore, a junior Agile Coach can often be wrongfully passed off as a Scrum Master.
Scrum Master and Agile Coach are not the same roles
An Agile Coach’s level of maturity is usually much higher than that of a Scrum Master.
The Scrum Master works predominantly within a team to well-defined Scrum processes, while the Agile Coach works within the organisation, ie.at manager and leadership team level, with a greater focus on the change agenda.
An investment calculation of having an external consultant
This is a simple external consultation cost calculation originally taken from Sebastian Radic´s blog post about working with coaches on contract basis.
[caption id="attachment_2950" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Source: ontheagilepath.net[/caption]
The calculation above demonstrates a monthly team performance of 10%. This is based on the assumption of working with young, not so mature team, however, you can also expect higher improvement rates.
This calculation example entails 2 teams in parallel. On top of the team improvement, it is considered the earnings of being online earlier with feature (cost of delay *-1), based on the team´s performance improvement.
In the calculation above, the feature has earnings of 5k a day and through 10% of the team, improvement is 2 days earlier online.
If you sum it up, the investment of having an external agile coach or a scrum master pays off – you profit 9 k per month.
You can adjust this calculation template with your own numbers.
Many companies and consultants offer their services for a daily rate without offering any concrete outcomes and not knowing what they deliver. Our approach is different.
We offer a product that delivers transparency and a set of pre-defined outcomes, ensuring guaranteed customer satisfaction. If you want to know more just click in our product below.
Are you based in Germany or Portugal?
We are based in Germany and Portugal and we have developed the “Scrum Team Coach“, a 6-month package designed to help organisations utilise Scrum in one to two teams.
After implementation, Scrum teams are able to work smoothly, enjoying product increments after each sprint.
If you are looking for help in hiring an external Scrum Master take a look at our package. To find out more, visit our page: Scrum Team Coach
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