A Simple Daily Checklist for a ScrumMaster

9 September 2013

Ansar Kanhiroli
McFadyen Consulting INC


A great ScrumMaster could handle more than one team at a time. But if your organization is under transformation and is yet to reach a particular level of maturity in terms of Agile practices, each team should have an exclusive ScrumMaster to facilitate. This video by Jeff Sutherland and team, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oheekef7oJk, is really fun to watch and at the same time conveys a strong message that no matter what style the ScrumMaster adopts, he or she should do whatever is necessary to facilitate the team. The ScrumMaster should set up a barricade for the team to protect it from any distractions that affect the sprint deliverables, whether it's the chilling AC or the product owner's "under the table" requests.
 
Below is a very simple checklist for ScrumMasters that can be used on a daily basis, especially for organizations undergoing transformation to Agile. This checklist contains pointers that can be customized and tweaked based on the organization or project dynamics.
 
The ScrumMaster should inspect the backlog and have conversations with the product owner about his or her observations. The ScrumMaster could easily identify the status of the team in a sprint by looking at the sprint burn-down chart. He/she can provide feedback on the user stories and check for adherence to the INVEST model. The format in which the Daily Scrum calls should be conducted is very important. More important, any impediments highlighted in the Daily Scrum calls should be noted and tracked to speedy closure by the ScrumMaster. The sprint review comments should be reflected in the backlog. Retrospective items should be followed and closed to ensure that the team is working in absolute synergy with nothing to distract or block its delivery.
 
All relevant stakeholders should be notified appropriately and should ensure that the degree of information radiated is enough to keep all in sync. If the teams are spread across geographies, the ScrumMaster should ensure that inter- and intrateam communications are happening and are coordinated. There should be a defined, clear, transparent communication channel. On a daily basis, the ScrumMaster should ensure that all of the team members are updating their cards correctly, and he or she should help them do that as necessary.
 
The product owner should be highly communicative and the ScrumMaster should ensure that the product owner's expectation and the sprint goals are really understood by the team. The ScrumMaster could actually advise the product owner to update/create good stories and maintain a better backlog. The team should be always delivering high-value stories or features on the top of the backlog, and the ScrumMaster should not wink while the team is planning stories for a sprint. The refinement meetings (previously known as grooming meetings) should be encouraged and facilitated by the ScrumMaster, and the "what" questions should be answered in this meeting about the features/stories.
 
The planning meeting needs to focus on the "how" part, and the team should have a good understanding of its commitment and what to deliver based on that commitment. The ScrumMaster should have a plan in case there are any unplanned or medical leaves taken by team members. She/he should also have an observant eye on any potential conflicts or friction that could pop up among team members. A good ScrumMaster is always proactive, with an understanding of the team and of whether the team understands why it is following a particular process. The ScrumMaster should check on the degree of self-organization evident within the team. As the team moves across the sprint, the ScrumMaster will play a pivotal role in ensuring an environment of trust and high productivity.
 
<SPRINT #, DAY # - MM/DD/YYYY>
Serial Number Description Status
1 How is my product backlog looking?  
2 Is the product backlog prioritized?  
3 How is the sprint burn-down chart looking?  
4 Are the user stories following the INVEST model?  
5 Are Daily Scrum call updates in the right format?  
6 Am I dealing with the impediments?  
7 Are sprint review comments adjusted in the backlog?  
8 Are retrospective items tracked?  
9 Are all chickens informed?  
10 Are team members really communicating with each other?  
11 Are onshore/offshore teams touching base?  
12 Are team members updating their statuses in the cards correctly?  
13 Is the team aware of the sprint goal?  
14 Is the team in sync with the product owner's expectations?  
15 Is a continuous flow of tasks being maintained?  
16 Is the team able to deliver valuable features?  
17 Is the team able to work independently, without technical dependencies?  
18 Is evolving design and refactoring appreciated over the "Big Design First" concept?  
19 Are all team members attending the refinement (grooming) sessions?  
20 Are there any conflicts/potential conflicts within the team that I should be aware of?  
21 Is the team space hindering communication?  
22 Are there any sick/unplanned leaves today?  
23 Is there a balance of automated-manual test cases?  
24 Are Scrum of Scrum calls happening?  
25 Are we having FUN?  
 
Status-Legend.jpg 
 
Apart from all team-related activities, the ScrumMaster should ensure other engineering practices inside a Scrum team. She/he should ensure that a good balance is attained between the automation and manual test cases. She/he should also check to see whether the team is actually appreciating the concept of evolving design instead of embracing up-front architecture. Are the engineering practices such as continuous integration, TDD, etc., which are being adopted to enable sprint delivery, being appreciated and followed in the right way by the team? Are the tools that have been embraced really adding value or are they becoming an overhead?

Finally, are we having FUN and enjoying our work?

For a more elaborate ScrumMaster checklist, please refer the checklist by Michael James at http://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2010/november/an-example-scrummaster-s-checklist.


Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



Article Rating

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Comments

Glen Wang, CSM, 9/9/2013 12:58:19 AM
But many other articles said a great scrum master can only handle one team:)
Zach Bonaker, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 9/9/2013 9:31:22 AM
From my experience, it's not a matter of a "great" ScrumMaster, but rather the state/skill of the team. A great ScrumMaster may be able to serve multiple experienced teams, yet only one new, immature team.

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