Scrum masters have an essential role to play in ensuring their businesses see the benefits of the Scrum framework.
They have key responsibilities such as:
- Serving the Scrum team by coaching members in key practices like self-management and cross-functionality
- Removing obstacles to the team's progress
- Helping product owners define their goals and manage the product backlog
- Providing organizational training on Scrum adoption and implementation
Considering the importance of Scrum masters in your efforts to develop and deliver products and solve complex problems, you need to have processes in place to measure their performance. This isn't always easy, partly because Scrum masters play a supportive role, and their effectiveness can't always be measured in quantifiable terms.
So what can you do to evaluate the contribution these key figures are making to the business and its outcomes?
1. Start with a clear understanding of the Scrum master role
Before you can think about measuring results, you need to have a clear idea of what you expect from your Scrum masters and what a good outcome would look like. Establishing benchmarks, performance metrics and goals is vital when you need to take a structured approach to gauging the impact your Scrum masters are having.
This could be an important learning process for various people in the organization. Those who are relatively new to this whole framework, for example, might want to know more about the role of the Scrum master and how this person can help them succeed in their job and reach their targets.
Professional Scrum trainer Barry Overeem has conducted in-depth explorations of eight stances of a Scrum master:
- Servant leader
- Impediment remover
- Change agent
Focusing your attention on what sort of role you want your Scrum masters to fulfill and how they can deliver the most value for the business will provide the foundation you need to accurately assess their impact.
2. Get feedback from the development team and product owner
When you're looking for the most accurate and relevant information on a niche topic, it's always advisable to go to the most direct and reliable source. In this case, that's the people who are being supported by the Scrum master, such as the product owner and members of the development team.
Ask these individuals about their expectations of the Scrum master, what they want to gain from this working relationship, how they see a successful collaboration functioning and what they would see as the most positive outcomes.
It can also be beneficial to engage directly with product owners to ask them about their most important objectives and what the Scrum master is doing to help them achieve these goals.
3. Use KVIs and outcome-based metrics
Where key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to give you a retrospective view of relevant data such as typical product development times, key value indicators (KVIs) are useful when you need to measure what the Scrum framework is worth to the business in measurable terms.
KPIs can give you insights into internal efficiency factors such as velocity, output and process delays, but KVIs provide a picture of value delivered to customers, through metrics like daily active user numbers and revenue gained from satisfied customers.
You can also build a data-based picture of your Scrum team effectiveness - and by association the performance of the Scrum master - by focusing on outcome-based metrics.
These might include:
- Product cycle time
- Buyer satisfaction
- Team engagement and happiness
- Innovation rate
- Total defects
- Sprint goal achievement
Collecting and analyzing data in these areas will help you gain insights into where your Scrum masters and teams are already performing well, and where you might need to look for new tactics and approaches to raise standards.
4. Engage directly with your Scrum masters
You can make the performance evaluation process easier by building positive and open relationships with your Scrum masters. There are various steps you can take to encourage positive communication practices within the company, such as promoting empathy and showing every employee that their opinions matter by turning the feedback you receive into real action and change.
If your Scrum masters feel comfortable speaking honestly about their experiences in the position, you'll be able to build an accurate picture of the reality of this role in your business and the various challenges that define it.
In the long term, this direct feedback from Scrum masters will contribute to deeper insights and intelligence on this crucial job. This understanding can provide the foundation you need to conduct the most accurate and informative assessments of how key leaders and team members are performing.