The Scrum Master is the “servant leader” of the Scrum Team who moderates and facilitates team interactions as team coach and motivator. The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team has a productive work environment by guarding the team against external influences, removing any obstacles, and enforcing Scrum principles, aspects, and processes. Different Scrum projects have different requirements, hence the need for different levels of Scrum Masters. Here are three such roles:
Chief Scrum Master
Large projects require multiple Scrum Teams to work in parallel. Information gathered from one team may need to be appropriately communicated to other teams—the Chief Scrum Master is responsible for this activity. The role of a Chief Scrum Master is necessary to ensure proper collaboration among the Scrum Teams. Coordination across various Scrum Teams working on a project is typically done through the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) Meeting. There is no hierarchy between the Scrum Masters: they are all peers. The Chief Scrum Master just works on a multi-team level, whereas the Scrum Masters work on a single team level. Typically, any inter-team issues are addressed by the interested parties in a session immediately following the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. The Chief Scrum Master facilitates this session. The Chief Scrum Master can be chosen from the Scrum Masters of the large project or can be somebody else. For very large projects, it is recommended to have a Chief Scrum Master who is not also a Scrum Master because the effort required for the Chief Scrum Master role will prevent the Chief Scrum Master from also being able to dedicate enough time to the work with his/her Scrum Team. In either case, the Chief Scrum Master should have enough Scrum expertise to be able to foster collaboration and to help and coach others with the implementation of Scrum for a smooth delivery of the project’s products. Apart from clearing impediments and ensuring a conducive project environment for the Scrum Teams, the Chief Scrum Master also collaborates with the Chief Product Owner, other Scrum Masters, and Product Owners in activities such as developing the list of components and resources needed in common for all teams throughout the project. He/she facilitates everything that goes beyond the realm of a single Scrum Team. The Chief Scrum Master also interfaces with the Program Scrum Master to ensure alignment of the large project with the goals and objectives of the program.
Program Scrum Master
The Program Scrum Master is a facilitator who ensures that all project teams in the program are provided with an environment conducive to completing their projects successfully. The Program Scrum Master guides, facilitates, and teaches Scrum practices to everyone involved in the program; provides guidance to Scrum Masters of individual projects; clears impediments for the different project teams; coordinates with the Scrum Guidance Body to define objectives related to quality, government regulations, security, and other key organizational parameters; and, ensures that Scrum processes are being effectively followed throughout the program. The Program Scrum Master interfaces with the Portfolio Scrum Master to ensure alignment of the program with the goals and objectives of the portfolio. He or she is also involved with appointing Scrum Masters for individual projects and ensuring that the vision, objectives, outcomes, and releases of individual projects in the program align with that of the program. This role is similar to that of the Scrum Master except it meets the needs of the program or business unit rather than of a single Scrum Team.
Portfolio Scrum Master
This role is similar to that of the Scrum Master except it meets the needs of the portfolio or business unit rather than of a single Scrum Team.
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In Scrum, quality is defined as the ability of the completed product or deliverables to meet the Acceptance Criteria and achieve the business value expected by the customer. To ensure that a project meets quality requirements, Scrum adopts an approach of continuous improvement whereby the team learns from experience and stakeholder engagement to constantly keep the Prioritized Product Backlog updated with any changes in requirements. The Prioritized Product Backlog is simply never complete until the closure or termination of the project. Any changes to the requirements reflect changes in the internal and external business environment and allow the team to continually work and adapt to achieve those requirements.
The fact that Scrum, through repetitive testing, requires work to be Done in an incremental fashion through Sprints rather than waiting until the end to produce deliverables results in errors being fixed right away, rather than postponed. Moreover, important quality-related tasks (e.g., development, testing, and documentation) are completed as part of the same Sprint by the same team—this ensures that quality is inherent in any Done deliverable created as part of a Sprint. Thus, continuous improvement with repetitive testing optimizes the probability of achieving the expected quality levels in a Scrum project. Constant discussions between the Scrum Core Team and stakeholders (including customers and users) with actual increments of the product being delivered at the end of every Sprint, ensures that the gap between customer expectations from the project and actual deliverables produced is constantly reduced.
Quality and Scope
Scope and quality requirements for a project are determined by taking into consideration various factors such as the following:
- The business need the project will fulfill
- The capability and willingness of the organization to meet the identified business need
- The current and future needs of the target audience
Scope of the project is the sum total of all the product increments and the work required for developing the final product. Quality is the ability of the deliverables to meet the quality requirements for the product and satisfy customer needs. In Scrum, the scope and quality of the project are captured in the Prioritized Product Backlog and the scope for each Sprint is determined by refining the large Prioritized Product Backlog Items (PBIs) into a set of small but detailed User Stories that can be planned, developed, and verified within a Sprint.
The Prioritized Product Backlog is continuously groomed by the Product Owner. The Product Owner ensures that any User Stories that the Scrum Team is expected to do in a Sprint are refined prior to the start of the Sprint. In general, the most valuable requirements in solving the customers’ problems or meeting their needs are prioritized as high and the remaining are given a lower priority. Less important User Stories are developed in subsequent Sprints or can be left out altogether according to the customer’s requirements. During Sprint execution, the Product Owner, customer, and the Scrum Team can discuss the list of features of the product to comply with the changing needs of the customers.
Quality and Business Value
Quality and business value are closely linked. Therefore, it is critical to understand the quality and scope of a project in order to correctly map the outcomes and benefits the project and its product must achieve in order to deliver business value. To determine the business value of a product, it is important to understand the business need that drives the requirements of the product. Thus, business need determines the product required, and the product, in turn provide the expected business value.
Quality is a complex variable. An increase in scope without increasing time or resources tends to reduce quality. Similarly, a reduction in time or resources without decreasing scope also generally results in a decrease in quality. Scrum believes in maintaining a ʺsustainable paceʺ of work, which helps improve quality over a period of time.
The Scrum Guidance Body may define minimum quality requirements and standards required for all projects in the organization. The standards must be adhered to by all Scrum Teams in the company.
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