Monday, April 01, 2013

5 Things To Do on Your 1st Day as ScrumMaster

As I work with students in my Certified ScrumMaster classes, coming from all roles (developer, lead engineer, project manager, quality assurance, and on), I find there is perhaps a gap in clear next steps guidance.

Scrum helps teams to focus, but perhaps it's a bit overwhelming at first. Here's somethings you might consider on Day 1.

In Scrum, the first day or step in the process is a sprint planning meeting, but let's assume that you're not there yet, but simply have been told your you're now a ScrumMaster.

  1. Are all your meetings (daily stand-up, planning, sprint review and retrospective) scheduled? What about grooming meetings? Check my blog post for ideas on a "day in the life of Scrum" calendar. Just having the dates for the meetings will help you and your team to focus. Will you have stories ready to demo at the sprint review? Maybe, maybe not, but it's better do something and then inspect then results, rather than wait until you or others feel ready.
  2. Do we have a prioritized backlog of product backlog items (typically user stories, and the top ones with acceptance criteria)? If not, schedule a story brainstorming meeting with the Product Owner and team. To start, you only need enough work backlog to fill the first sprint, plus another one to two more. That gets you going. 
  3. Do we have a Product Owner? Does that person understand what expected of them in this new role? Here are two videos - a short animated video on the Product Owner role, and an hour conference session on the Essential Product Owner that might help.
  4. Do we have a team? Ideally five to nine members, dedicated (not shared on other projects), cross-functional (not a dev Scrum team, and a QA scrum team), and co-located (all in the same location and within talking distance). Any variations to this, and the challenges and likely weakened results should be communicated to the stakeholders and sponsors of the agile effort.
  5. Has your team had agile training or experience? If not, I encourage you to set up an Introduction to Agile or Agile 101 type session. You may not feel qualified, but even walking through Mike Cohn's PowerPoint presentation Introduction to Scrum (and you can find lots of SlideShare and PDF's on this) will stir and help conversation, shared understanding and agreement. It might lower your anxiety and the expectations you put on yourself if you consider yourself less an instructor and more of a facilitator. I would expect at least one to two hours, but formal training is typically a day on this.

I also wrote a document for next steps after the ScrumMaster training. It is broad and beyond Day 1, but it might help.

Good luck, and enjoy the journey!

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