To understand how to measure a Scrum Master’s performance, let’s first define what a Scrum Master does. The Scrum Master is a leader serving the Scrum Team and the larger organization and is responsible for ensuring that Scrum practices are grasped well by the Scrum Team both in theory and practice. The Scrum Master helps create synergy, both within and outside the team, to boost its worth. Some of the functions are:
- As Facilitator: Setting boundaries, creating an environment of collaboration, and helping the team achieve their objectives.
- As Coach: Coaching team members about perspectives, mindset, and helps Scrum teams from achieving their goals.
- As a Conflict navigator to limit the negative aspects of conflict and encourage a healthy competitive spirit
- As a Mentor to guide team members, establish healthy relationships for team members to flourish.
How to Measure Scrum Master Performance
The Scrum Master is not the boss, but much of a Scrum Team’s success will depend on his or her performance. For most Scrum Masters, the definition of success is that the team takes full responsibility and ownership of the process. By their initiatives, the team conduct and facilitate the Scrum Events, have team meetings to discuss issues, and reach out to other groups. They also communicate with the stakeholders in the organization.
A few metrics need to be defined to check whether the team is working with a sense of ownership and responsibility. Here are some guidelines on how you could do this:
1. Align team goals:
Having a shared purpose is what makes the team succeed. The Scrum Master should ensure that his or her success is fully aligned with team goals. The simple tool to learn the factors that influence and affect the team is a conversation. Being attentive and authentic in understanding individual viewpoints and consciously managing relationships will help Scrum Masters check that Scrum practices are being understood and adhered to.
2. Maintain metrics and notes about all events:
Scrum Masters should make notes during meetings and conversations and note the number of times these interactions were done. Everything should be measured, whether it is completing tasks, features that are being worked on, time to complete tasks, etc., and trends should be noted.
3. Check the level of team ownership:
The level of team ownership is best checked when the Scrum Master is away from work for a short period (For example, when he or she is on leave). After returning, suppose you find that the team is not functioning well and some processes, for example, taking feedback, have not been managed well. In that case, it indicates that the group requires more attention and coaching before it is ready to own the process altogether.
4. Keep track of Sprint Goals:
The Scrum guide says that the Scrum Master is responsible for “Helping the Development Team to create high-value products” and “Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team.” They show the Scrum Master’s responsibility in helping the team achieve Sprint Goals. For the team to complete the goal both as individuals and as a group, limitations, dependencies, and barriers must be actively supervised, the acceptance criteria must be definite, and there should be no misunderstanding in the “Definition of Done.” understood by all. The Scrum Master can maintain “Burn Down” or “Burn Up” charts to check for accomplishments. Linking the performance of the team is a good measure of the success of its Scrum Master.
5. Check system behavior:
Scrum teams don’t perform in silos. They are influenced by organization policies and cultures, the technologies that are used, and the synergy between teams. The Scrum Master needs to go beyond team metrics and look at systems behaviors to measure own performance. Two systems metrics that could be helpful are Lead Time and Cycle Time.
- Measuring Lead Time, the period in which items remain unattended in the Backlog helps understand how good the team is at focusing on all stakeholder specifications. Teams can focus only on the current Sprint and its priorities while allowing some items to languish in the Backlog.
- Measuring Cycle time, although a Kanban practice, can help the Scrum Master to optimize teamwork. It is the time taken with a Sprint from ‘work in progress” to meeting the Definition of Done. Shorter and consistent Cycle times are a good indicator of better production rates.
6. Coach for success:
The Scrum Master should tap the potential of professional coaching and evaluate their performance as a coaching success as part of their performance metrics. Coaching the Scrum Team means empowering the team but not doing their work or solving all the problems. This process is not constant but evolves all the time as the group develops. Successful coaching results can be assessed by checking on the following metrics:
- Accuracy of team estimation
At Sprint Retrospectives, the Scrum Teams can explore the calculation made about effort versus the actual effort. Keeping track of these results and analyzing how effective the team is in estimating can be done. The Scrum Master’s coaching efforts can be considered successful if there are enhancements in the way estimates are made.
- Increase in team interaction
As a facilitator and coach, the Scrum Master’s important duty is to maintain a positive environment for open communication. Whether this is being achieved can be assessed by regular observations and evaluation by the team.
- Increase in Velocity
Coaching and guidance from a successful Scrum Master should lead to increased Velocity. Once the process is stable and the team can achieve a reasonably predictable cadence, velocity improvements can be measured by comparing the number of story points being delivered from one Sprint to the next.
7. Check customer satisfaction
The real test of whether a Scrum Master is performing to a high standard is whether the end goal of customer satisfaction is achieved. It is only when the customer is happy that the Scrum Team can say it has delivered value. A good Scrum Master makes the team understand the importance of what they are accomplishing. It can be done through:
- Customer surveys
Feedback from detailed customer surveys can show the degree of satisfaction of the customer. The reports can be generated by the Product Owner after discussions or from online surveys.
- Customer helpline calls
Support calls to customer helplines are an excellent source of information. Metrics about user satisfaction can be checked to see if complaints and problem areas are within acceptable limits.
- Sales and financials of the product
If the product is for sale, the sales figures, especially compared to competitors, are useful metrics for analyses. If the results increase the customer’s revenue, it is a further indication of value added by the Scrum Process
8. Assess sustainability
An Agile process and happy customers should be clear indicators of sustainability. But it is not enough. To be considered truly sustainable, a process needs happy people who feel empowered and valued in the company. They should feel like coming into work each day and contribute towards their goals. It can be done with a simple self-evaluation process by asking team members to say how happy they are with their role, the team, and the company on a scale of 1 to 5. The outputs from such tools can help the Scrum Master facilitate the changes needed to bring stability and sustainability to the team. The indicators of happiness and, consequently, the trust factor is a metric that Scrum Masters can use to evaluate their roles.
9. Scrum Master checklist
Since the Scrum Master’s success is dependent on the definition of success, it is a good practice for a Scrum Master to have a checklist to assess his or her performance.
- Questions could be about the process or individual Sprints. For example: Does the Scrum Team have a clear vision? Is the Sprint Goal well understood?
- Questions could be about the team. For example: Is the team happy to work on this project? Are contributions from team members being seen as valued?
The questions are not standard; it depends on what the Scrum Master is focusing attention on. Keeping the list updated and changing the questions according to what is happening in the process is more important than the questions themselves.
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In conclusion, an organization can quickly identify a high performing Scrum Master. It is the person who helps the Scrum Team succeed as a high-performing team and helps the organization function as a successful business.