Scrum masters are one of the most critical members of any Agile project. One of the primary qualities scrum masters must possess is multi-tasking. They need to understand the complete project, including what each team member is doing. Apart from this, they also need to constantly motivate the team members to get the work done and also to make them follow the scrum processes. At the same time, the Scrum Master needs to overcome a lot of challenges that he/she faces on a daily basis to complete the project successfully and a Certified ScrumMaster course helps to learn how to handle the challenges effectively.
Some Scrum Master challenges are discussed below:
1) Scattered Team Members
This is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Scrum Masters. It is estimated that nearly 32 percent of the projects in the UK fail because the teams are distributed. With almost all the companies going national and even global, the team members within the same project will be scattered across different geographical locations. What this means is a delay in communication of the requirements, owing to network issues, different time zones, or even language issues. A Scrum Master can solve this issue by efficiently managing time, using video conferencing regularly, and constantly traveling across different locations to motivate the team in person.
2) Lack of awareness in the team about Agile methodology
The next challenge can be attributed to the ignorance of the organization, which can happen regularly. Often, owing to tight deadlines and multiple projects, the organization will not provide adequate training to the team about Agile methodologies. As a result, the Scrum Master will often be met with questions and defiance when the team is asked to follow an Agile process. In fact, a survey by the 9th Annual State of Agile states that nearly 44% of Agile projects fail because of a lack of knowledge regarding Agile methodologies. This can be easily solved if the Scrum Master takes some time before beginning the project and conducts a workshop, educating the members about the Agile processes.
3) Deviation in timelines
Deviation in timelines, especially in Scrum meetings, is very common. It is also well known that a Scrum meeting should not exceed beyond 15 minutes. But this seldom happens as teams start discussing their technical problems due to which the meeting often goes up to an hour, thereby leading to time wastage. This situation can be easily overcome by a Scrum Master by properly time boxing every meeting. The meeting has to end once the time limit is crossed and the team members should be asked to discuss their difficulties after the meeting is over.
4) Handling Change Requests
Clients are difficult to handle, especially when the project is at the halfway mark. This is mainly due to their constant requests to change the product from what they had aligned before, as they couldn’t have envisioned this solution at the time of requirement collection. Some change requests will be genuine and will add a lot of value to the product. At the same time, the team members’ bandwidth needs to be considered as well, as they can’t be pushed to handle both the actual requirement and the change requests. As a Scrum Master, he/she should ensure that only the mandatory and extremely important change requests are entertained, with all others being pushed to the future phases. This can be achieved by effectively communicating the issues to the client, regarding the negatives that can come up if the change request is taken up immediately.
5) Confusing Scrum Master with other roles
Often, a Scrum Master is confused with other roles such as Project Manager or even an admin. Also, often, a Scrum Master is asked to schedule meetings, take notes, managing resources for team lunch, etc. What is surprising is that this lack of clarity is present not just in team members and lower management, but in higher management also. The company should educate all the employees that a Scrum Master is a facilitator of processes, or in other words, he/she is someone who ensures that all the processes are being followed and there is no deviation from the path.
To summarize, a Scrum Master faces a lot of challenges in his/her tenure in a project. It is completely up to the organization and the Scrum Master to resolve the issues. Most of the issues are solvable just by properly educating the team members and the management. As they say, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.