A Scrum Master's function on an Agile team differs significantly from that of a typical Project Manager who works in a top-down hierarchical Waterfall style. The Scrum Master is not a typical leader but rather a facilitator who works on the same level as the rest of the team.
The work of Scrum Master is definitely difficult, and even the most seasoned Scrum Masters find it challenging to cope with the strain at times! What problems does a Scrum Master confront, and how can they overcome them? We provide the perspectives of our top Scrum Masters so that you can benefit from their knowledge.
What should a Scrum Master do if they receive resistance from outside the development team? Continue reading to find out.
Challenge 1: Time-boxing is difficult to keep track of
The Scrum Master is in charge of keeping time-boxing activities like the Daily Stand-up. Teams that are not limited to this length cannot manage their daily workload. Time-boxing is used to set the upper limit of duration for activities and events, and teams that are not confined to this duration cannot manage their daily workload. Participants who aren't paying attention can sabotage the meeting, and if the Scrum Master doesn't keep the required focus in check, there will be significant delays.
Maintain clarity on each meeting's agenda, emphasize the necessity of strict time-boxing, and clarify that if someone tries to deviate from the topic, their issues can be handled separately because the team's time is valuable.
Challenge 2: The Scrum Master's role is regarded as optional
Let's be clear about something. The Scrum Master is not the team's leader or boss. They are contributing members who facilitate and empower work while also removing roadblocks to smooth development.
Instead of working above the team, the Scrum Master must get down and dirty and work with and for them. You are required to smooth the team's journey and ensure that processes and principles are followed as someone who is familiar with the Agile approach.
Challenge 3: Lack of support from Senior Management
Agile is a philosophy that must be adopted by the entire organization, not just a few individuals. When senior management does not fully embrace the initiative, the entire team may suffer.
What can be done to get around it? Rather than explaining why senior management should adopt Agile, find out their problems and fix them using an Agile approach. They'll soon follow in their footsteps and become Agile proponents.
Challenge 4: Agile meetings that aren't run properly
Many people believe that meetings are a waste of time, particularly if they are not contributing to the discussion. On the other hand, regular meetings are required to get the entire team on board with Agile values of transparency and inspection to work the way they should. Core Agile meetings are brief but extremely valuable since they allow the team to discuss, overcome obstacles, and prepare for the work ahead.
Scrum Masters should keep all meetings on track, provide value to each member, and improve the team's quality and productivity.
Challenge 5: Waterfall vs. Agile
This occurs more frequently than you might expect. Senior team members who have traditionally used the Waterfall technique may understand the Agile principles but find it difficult to put them into practice. This is one of the most common reasons that caused Agile transformations to fail. Firms that try to go Agile usually run into disagreements, misunderstandings, ego issues, and a lack of faith in the process.
A skilled Scrum Master would gently explain the benefits that have been realized and share data on successful Agile product deliveries to get everyone on board with Agile. Team members can be persuaded to join the winning side by clearly displaying the benefit that will be received.
Challenge 6: Lack of Agile Training
Agile concepts are simple to understand but challenging to implement. Your team members will not be invested enough in the system to follow it closely unless they understand the essential Agile principles and the underlying reasons for following them. To be on the same page, they should have a basic awareness of Agile terms and practices.
If the team isn't familiar with Agile, you'll need to train them and get them up to speed on what Scrum is all about as a coach and mentor.
Challenge 7: Stakeholders and Agile Teams do not communicate well
While agile teams may have the skills and capacities to follow Agile to the letter, people who are watching—such as stakeholders, suppliers, and others—may not have a good understanding of what it means to be Agile.
They must understand how the iterative approach works and are committed to providing feedback at regular intervals to match your new ways of working. You might invite them to a few planning sessions to be aware of their responsibilities.
Challenge 8: Managing Scope Changes
While it is the Product Owner's role to oversee the scope and direction of the work, the PO can only do so with the help of the Scrum Master. When new work is thrown at the team at random or requested to take a different path, they may become perplexed.
The Scrum Master should collaborate with the Product Owner to collect input on a daily basis, which will enable the team members to de-clutter and gain clarity.
Challenge 9: Relationship with the Product Owner is Toxic
Scrum Master and Product Owner are supposed to be two halves of the same coin that collaborate for the greater good of everybody. However, they frequently have personalities that clash, resulting in a breakdown in communication that impedes work progress.
Even if minor disagreements arise, the Scrum Master and Product Owner must work together to resolve them before they become a full-fledged misunderstanding. A supportive connection with plenty of giving and take is required for the team's overall health.
Challenge 10: Scrum Master Assigns Admin Responsibilities
Frequently, the Scrum Master is required to arrange meetings, plan events, and follow up on ceremonies. While the Scrum Master may be the appropriate person to take on this task, it should not take away from the Scrum Master's regular responsibilities.
The core purpose of the Scrum Master is to facilitate teamwork, and any additional activities should not detract from this. To ensure that you oversee all tasks, try to delegate administrative responsibilities and become a great communicator.
Challenge 11: Managing Remote Workforces
For a Scrum Master, remote teams provide a whole new set of issues. Due to working across multiple time zones, geographical concerns, or network problems, there may be delays in today's world of remote work and distributed teams.
Scrum Masters encounter difficulties while working with such remote teams, but they may overcome these obstacles using technology and collaborative tools.
Challenge 12: Secretive
Many individuals who have worked in the Waterfall model are hesitant to embrace more open working practices. Senior management is accustomed to having dominant positions, which might hinder Agile methodologies, which do not have a top-down hierarchy.
The Scrum Master should identify instances where top management transparency is desired and required. Leaders with visibility into these areas can make well-informed decisions that benefit team performance and organizational success.
Challenge 13: Performances of a Team vs. Individual
The Scrum team must work as a unit to achieve team goals rather than focusing on individual value creation. When team members strive for individual success rather than working together as a cohesive one, this can lead to delays in development. When a company's culture encourages individuals over teams, the situation becomes even worse.
Individual appraisals must consider this strategy, and HR must be convinced that on an Agile team, total performance is what matters.
Challenge 14: Different Expectations from Management
When there is a lack of agreement among the management on what is the most critical priority, the Scrum Master is frequently conflicted about what the team should expect. For example, one manager may seek measurable progress, while another seeks cohesive teamwork, and a third seeks issue solving.
When it comes to establishing clarity on expectations, communication is crucial. Consult your immediate manager and determine what you are expected to accomplish in this position.
Challenge 15: Getting Problems Solved As Soon As Possible
When a problem emerges, the Scrum Master is responsible for resolving it as soon as feasible. However, there may be times when the number and severity of hurdles make finding quick answers difficult.
You may establish a mutual trust and understanding relationship by creating a culture of shared accountability within the team. You'll find it easier to overcome difficulties that would otherwise interfere with work development if you have the backing of the entire team.
Challenge 16: Lack of Space
A team with no separate meeting place is unlikely to collaborate effectively. As teams break up and reorganize for different projects, team spaces are sometimes overlooked, but work suffers when they don't have the space they require.
Each team should have a designated area to get together for events and meetings and connect with one another throughout the day and, as needed, for Agile to work properly.
Challenge 17: Cancelled or Skipping Meetings
Agile meetings are a critical component of the framework, and they must be performed according to the guidelines outlined in the rule books. The benefits of transparency, inspection, and adaptability will be lost if sessions are skipped or postponed due to unexpected work.
The Scrum Master should be strict about keeping meetings on schedule and ensuring they remain focused and do not exceed the allotted time.
Challenge 18: Product Owners Who Aren't Present
Product Owners are frequently too preoccupied to attend meetings regularly. This leads to a lot of uncertainty and a lot of rework, which makes the team lose faith in the Agile approach.
Work can move along smoothly when the Scrum Master and Product Owner have a close relationship. It will be made clear to the PO that missing meetings or acting as a Product Owner in their absence is not an option.
Challenge 19: Multi-Team Projects
The Agile team loses dedicated support and accessibility to the Scrum Master when firms hire part-time Scrum Masters or ask one Scrum Master to work on multiple teams simultaneously. In these situations, the Scrum Master is unable to motivate and maximize the team's maximum potential.
Request full-time employment if you are a part-time Scrum Master overworked and need additional time to work with the Scrum team. Alternatively, instead of working on multiple teams, devote the majority of your time to one and have a temporary Scrum Master on the other team who can take up your responsibilities while you are unavailable.
Challenge 20: Managing Constraints
There are always limits to the project's smooth progress, and the Scrum Master may find it difficult to handle so much tension at once! People's perspectives, arising disputes, a lack of clarity on needs, or even a lack of the appropriate tools and technology are all examples of restrictions.
To overcome these limitations, the Scrum Master should seek the assistance of a sponsor or a member of the management team. Make a list of the limitations and develop ways to get around them.
Professional Scrum Masters are essential members of a demanding and complex Scrum team. To overcome all barriers and reach the stated goals require the ideal blend of soft skills, knowledge, and capabilities. The capacity to overcome these obstacles comes with experience, and proper Agile Scrum training and certifications can help instill the necessary skills.