A Day in My Life as a Scrum Master

So today, I will do my best to walk you through my day as a scrum Master as I facilitate, plan and conduct other Scrum responsibilities all to continuously develop a well-formed and high-performing team.

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Please Note: This information I am about to share is based 2 assumptions:

  • You have at least read the scrum guide or have a basic understanding of the Scrum framework. If that is not the case for you as an aspiring Scrum Master, I recommend you go ahead and read the scrum guide carefully, then come back to this video. Because until you have that understanding before you can appreciate this content.
    • We are in the covid 19 eras, so everything is virtual

So, what does my day look like as a scrum master?

I am going to pick Wednesday assuming it is the first day of our two weeks sprint iteration.

For example, my sprint iteration kicks off on Wednesday the 10th of Feb to Tuesday, Feb 23rd.

  • On Wednesday 10th I make sure I sign in at least 1hour earlier than the rest of the team, just to be sure I am prepared and settled physically and psychologically to start the sprint planning.
  • So I start by creating and prioritizing my to-do list so that I don’t get caught up during the day and miss important tasks
  • Then I make sure I connect to our virtual communication portal which is Webex in this case at least 15mins early just to get set up and make sure my system is working correctly.
  • Facilitator: Once everyone arrives and our planning starts at 9:00 AM, at this point, I become the planning facilitator:
    •  So I pull up my Jira board and share my screen
    • Open the team capacity board to make sure that our available capacity reflects reality.
    • So whatever work we are planning is based on the available team capacity. Meaning that I have to watch to make sure that we are not committing to more than what we can do base on the data from our capacity board.
    • Then I pull up our product backlog of priorities and ranked work items.
    • starting from the first item on the product backlog and calling them out by their id numbers say, for example, 0021. Once I call out the number, the team already understands that I expect them to start discussing that story.
  • So, whatever discussion that is going on, we have a checklist (definition of ready) that I am going by, and by the time they think the story is ready to get into the sprint, I have to double-check with them to confirm that the story meets the definition of ready before it is qualified to get into the sprint backlog.
  • Please see some Typical example of our definition of ready:
    • INVEST criteria (Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small or sized, Testable)
    • Requirement clarification
    • Remove uncertainties
    • Remove unknowns
    • Refine effort estimation
    • Plan capacity
    • Identify risks
    • Definition of done
  • So, the purpose of the definition of ready is to help minimize the chances of us getting blocked on the road once we set the sprint rolling.
  • Once the story is conformed ready, I pull the story into the sprint backlog and move on to the next story, and the cycle continues until our sprint backlog is completely loaded base on our available team capacity.
  • Another very important point of focus is to ensure that the stories that are pulled into the sprint will meet the defined sprint goal at the end of the sprint.
  • 15 min Daily Stand Up: Once we confirm to be done with the planning and ready for the new sprint. We move on to daily stand up, and we do a round table to understand every team member’s plan for the day by answering these three questions:
    • What did you accomplish yesterday?
    • What do you plan on accomplishing today?
    • Do you have any Impediments/blockers?
  • Lastly, if there are any parking lot, I facilitate the parking lot session and everyone disperse for the day and start executing their plan.
  • Impediments:
    • Immediately after the meetings are over, I have my list of impediments that I have captured during the planning and stand-up meeting, making sure that those impediments are beyond the team’s ability to clear up. I start reaching out to the right people, going above and beyond to remove those impediments.
    • Example 1: For example, during the parking lot, a team member might say we need a license renewal from Microsoft, he had reached out to the systems administrator twice, but he still does not have access.
    • I then go ahead and double-check with our systems admin why the issue has not been resolved
    • The system admin tells me that, he had submitted a ticket to Microsoft about the issue but has not heard anything back and he has other high-priority stuff he is focusing on.
    • , I can go ahead and ask for the ticket number and then reach out to Microsoft to check the status of the ticket. If it looks like it has not been touched? I have to call Microsoft’s hotline to rush my request.
    • So I have to go above and beyond until the impediment is removed and my team can access the tool again, just to help us stay on track on our sprint plan
    • Example 2: During the parking lot, a team member mentioned that we would need an external reviewer for a story for the next sprint, as our core team does not currently have that person.
    • I then ask, who do you think might help us with this? He says Ben for example
    • I then ask, have you reach out to Ben to check his capacity?
    • He goes yes, but he was not sure he still had to double-check with his manager and let us know. But I have not heard from him again
    • So, I ask him so what do we do? HE says I will follow up with him today afternoon
    • Then I go, would it be okay if I follow up with you just to be sure we got that covered?.
    • He says, no problem, check with me at 2 PM if you don’t hear from me.
    • At 1:30 I get an email from my team member saying that Ben’s manager is hesitating due to resource scarcity
    • Now I quickly text Ben’s manager and request a quick phone conversation, he accepts my request
    • I discuss with him to understand the reasoning behind his hesitation. Then I explain to him the priority of this feature that depends on Ben’s help.
    • He then buys into my case and decides it’s okay, we can have Ben for the upcoming sprint.
    • So, that is done.
  • PO Backlog Management and Organization:
    • As the day is going on, I have a scheduled product backlog management and organization meeting with the PO every Wednesday at 1:00 PM
    • After the planning and stand-up are over, I start prepping by putting my thoughts and even making notes for discussion for my meeting with the PO.
    • At 1:00, I connect with the PO and support him to update the backlog making sure the required stories are updated, reprioritized, and ranked.
    • The purpose of this meeting is to get the backlog in a ready state for refinement which is scheduled for every Thursday.
  • After the meeting is over, I open my scrum board and spend some time in it just to make sure that every piece of information in there reflects our plan.
  • If there is any discrepancy, I have to go above and beyond to reach out to people to clear up the discrepancy.
  • We also have a weekly workshop every Thursday, So I spend some time preparing for our workshop content
  • After that, I will have to coach a team member who bases on my observation is struggling with updating his sprint board every day. So I have to connect with him to understand why he does not always update his board, from there I will know how to bring him up to speed.
  • At this point, my day is almost over. I then spend the last 30mins of my day drafting a report of my day and share it with the leadership team.
  • And that’s it.
  • So every day varies based on the need that comes up. The only standards are the mandatory scrum events, in addition to my weekly backlog management meeting with the PO and the backlog refinement with the team. The rest highly depends on my ability to identify anti-patens and impediments.
  • In summary, that is what my day looks like.
  • We will end here today
  • Up Next
    • So I am guessing most of you are wondering so what does a scrum master do all sprint? In our next video, which will be part two of this session, I will give you a summary of my activities for an entire sprint.

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