Being a ScrumMaster for a Scrumban Team

What follows is a brief outline of the features and challenges of using Scrumban, a technique that combines Scrum and Kanban, two of the most successful Agile concepts. With some outside references and personal experiences combined, I have attempted to project my idea of implementing and practicing Scrumban.

Scrumban boardKanban and WIP limits help the team to stay
focused and continuously deliver.

Scrumban features:

  • Combines Scrum and Kanban to get the most out of both.
  • Visualizes the flow of Product Backlog Items or Stories, rather than Tasks. Tasks are created late in the game and don’t flow all the way. Some teams visualize tasks as well, but it is optional.
  • Requires weekly planning.
  • Daily tracking is done via a Kanban board to maintain flow.
  • Goal is to make incremental progress and limit WIP (work in progress) both row-wise and column-wise.

ScrumMaster role:

  • Leader, facilitator, protector, gatekeeper, coach, even described sometimes as a sheepdog.
  • Works as a servant leader.
  • Doesn’t practice command and control.
  • Crucial in ensuring the success of the Scrum team.
  • Master of Scrum, not a Master of the Team.
  • Enforces the Scrum process.
  • Ensures full team involvement in all meetings.
  • Radiates information to the larger organization.
  • Shields the team from external interference.
  • Keeps the process moving.
  • Tracks and resolves team impediments.

Challenges:

  • Sometimes the team has to do some bug-fixing, and sometimes the client asks for small and/or urgent tasks, which leads to Context Switching. This is an impediment for the team, and even though the product owner understands it, client and product nature makes these emergent tasks unavoidable and creates unpredictable velocity because of their urgency:
    • “Drop whatever you are doing, there’s a server on fire and we don’t care if velocity drops – go and fix it now.”
    • “As soon as you finish what you are doing right now, please choose this urgent task.”
  • Limiting the Work in Progress, which in a Scrum context basically means limiting the number of Product Backlog Items in progress at any point in time. Once the limit is reached, the alternative to starting a new story is to go and help others deal with their story. This can mean helping others in your area of expertise or going upstream or downstream to help.

 

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