The Measure of a good Scrum Master.

As a contract SM I think its important to be able to demonstrate value-add on a regular, if not daily basis. Problem is, because we don’t produce anything tangible, this can be rather hard.

I’ve challenged people to give me metrics in a few of my contracts and most of the time velocity is cited as the only metric. I believe this to be far too simplistic and completely dependant on the teams willingness to change, aptitude for learning and passion to become self organising, this varies per team. Even with the best Scrum Master in the world velocity may take some time to get on the upturn if the team isn’t committed to change yet.

So, what else do we have?

For me, there are many metrics and their importance varies dependant on the situation/team/company.

Why do they vary?

They vary because those who you are demonstrating value to may favour one more highly than the other. Also different problems are prevalent in different organisations, so you’ll want to see that you’re addressing the big issues and measure against those. Thats why I suggest interviewing or holding a mini retrospective with each aspect of the team end to end, using the 5 why’s to make sure you’re addressing the cause and not the symptom.

What metrics have I come across so far?

Team questionnaires- can measure things like morale to see if there is an upward/downward or stable trend. After all, if the team is unhappy, they’re very unlikely to be motivated to do their best work. This gives feedback after each sprint.

PO questionnaires- Like team morale questionnaires, you can ask them to rate things like visibility, predictability and value for money.

Predictability of releases/ regularity of releases- in a fully empowered agile team, releases should be little and often and the PO team should always know when the next is coming.

Concept to cash time- This is a great end to end measure, although, like velocity it can take some time to improve and can do so in massive jumps or small steady increments. That said, there’s only one thing the big boss’ll care about…and thats value to users.

Then of course, good ol’velocity…but you know this one right.

Ok, we measure those things, what next?

Publicise the results openly. Do not be afraid if they’re not going in the right direction, they’re early warning signals.

Discuss with those same people you interviewed at the start to gather your problem statement/acceptance criteria. You have to make sure you’re still measuring yourself against the correct things and the world hasn’t changed so dramatically around you that those things no longer make sense.

To wrap up…

There are so many things that can be measured, as long as you’re thinking about it and doing it in some form you’re onto a winner.

It’s very simple from high level, know your audience (who’s measuring), understand the problem (why are they measuring), create and agree metrics to measure performance against these problems, revisit…often.

Now to practice…easy 😉


2 thoughts on “The Measure of a good Scrum Master.

  1. I wrote a long witty comment and WordPress made me log in and lost it. Argggghh

    WIP would be a good metric. You could measure it with the WIP stick you’re holding. It’s about 4ft right now. 2ft would be a nice target


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