No matter if you’re running a distributed Scrum or not you’ve to find balance of sharing most experienced Scrum Masters over multiple Teams and facilitating a scrum Team the best.
Each team has to have a Scrum Master in Scrum. One approach is to share these rare resources over multiple Teams, another to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. Lets compare both options and think about what is best for distributed Scrum Teams.
Shared Scrum Master
Especially if a company is new to Scrum experienced Scrum Masters are very rare. Often those are expensive external Scrum Consultants, so it’s a good approach to share these Capacity and Costs over multiple Teams. One disadvantage I see in sharing Scrum Master is, that from point of view of team Scrum Master looks like an external assessor. This needs a lot of investment in trust and social integration. The advantage of a shared Scrum Master is, his personal distance and objectivity.
It’s getting tricky in a distributed Scrum Team, where you might have 2 or more parts of team at different locations handled by same Product owner. In that case it’s best practice, that each part of team has a local Scrum Master. Main reason is, that just if Scrum Master is on site he could take over responsibility of Done and facilitate the team the best. Now this mean in a distributed Scrum Team we don’t need just one-, but one shared Scrum Master per location.
Dedicated Scrum Master
Another option is to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. This often is a regular Team Member, that is actively e.g. developing too, but has additional role of Scrum Master. This has advantage that he knows them personal, with there strengths, problems, etc from daily work and could facilitate the team very easy. On the other hand fully integrated Scrum Master won’t have personal distance to team, that could generate other problems. Especially for companies that are new to Scrum this could be a very challenging option, cause the learning curve will be much longer in that approach if no experienced Scrum Masters are already available within company.
In a distributed Scrum Team this has advantage that we don’t need additional resources. It’s just covered within multifunctional team.
Both options have it’s advantages and disadvantages. In distributed teams it’s recommended to have dedicated Scrum Masters per location. Depending at team size this could be covered by an existing team member in personnel union. However, as we know that a distributed Scrum is the most complex thing in Scrum it needs most experienced Scrum Masters available. If there are no experienced Scrum Masters in Company yet there is option to take the longer learning curve, or to add a shared external Scrum Coach, that is consulting all the dedicated Scrum Masters.
We at youngculture.com made exactly this several years ago. By today very experienced Scrum Masters are still rare, but we established a guild meeting (something like a retrospective Meetings over all Scrum Masters), were we meet and exchange latest experiences, pitfalls, tools, etc. So less experienced Scrum Masters are facilitated and external in-team coaching time was reduced to zero. Furthermore this Scrum Competence Center is responsible for:
- Internal Standards and best Practices
- Initial Training of new Team Members and Scrum Masters in Scrum and Tools
- Internal & External Scrum Consulting (Coaching in Scrum Setup/Implementation/Meetings, overtaking Scrum Master or Product Owner Role, etc)
This gave us flexibility we needed to add new distributed Scrum Teams very easily and shortest possible learning curve. But also to consult our internal team and our Customers in best Practices continuously.
How you solved Scrum Master Implementation with what experiences?