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I'm currently Scrum Master for a Team and there is not a lot of work for us to do. My Team has recently moved to a new project and handed all previous products over to different teams. Now, due to summer holidays, poor planning by project managers etc., my Team of 8 members is left with virtually no work to do.

We are currently in a state where it will be around mid September when there is actual work to do.

Currently, Team members are working on courses etc. on Udemy, however there is no real way of knowing what they are doing and if there are no other options for them but to do learning during working hours. Is there any way to measure the amount of learning they are doing in a sense?

Also, is there any way people could suggest on giving some coding work etc., such that Team members don't forget best practices etc. for when we are back to actual coding etc.?

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  • Welcome to pmse. You had 3 questions (one was a polling question so I removed it). Of your two remaining questions, it's best for you to pick one and focus on it, to avoid your post being closed as 'Needs more focus'. If you want to ask two questions, ask them in two separate questions.
    – Sarov
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 13:17
  • Why did the Scrum Team hand over their work? It seems like your teams are organized around projects. Is there a reason why they are not organized around products and remain working on a product until the end of the product's life?
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 13:41

3 Answers 3

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There is always work to do, the question is how easy is to identify it.

If you're asking the question, it's very likely you already asked around for some pointers and no one was either available or with enough context to guide you into the right direction.

Maybe, the Udemy courses are actually the right direction. Has the team being asked about it?

As a Scrum Master, you're not supposed to focus on output. The team does not need to be working on deliverables right away (although, as mentioned in other questions, if other teams where the work has been handed over there's some need, worth to lend a hand and create some good relationship with other teams).

Instead, focus on outcome. What is the product you'll be working on? Are you guys aware of it? How is the delivery pipeline going to work? How is the team going to operate? Is the team used to work together? If there's a "no" for any of the above, it's a good moment to create a team culture.

Instead of having each developer in its own island studying by themselves, you as SM might want to create the sense of team. Maybe the work is to do some actual study, and that's really ok - you might want to make sure that the knowledge is not only obtained but also shared with others. This way, you'll be able to observe who's more proactive in such situations and who'll need more attention from you in the near future.

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Some suggestions:

Talk to product owner(s) and stakeholder(s). Ask them for priority items that they would like the team to help out with. You can bet that almost any business customer will have a wishlist of items they would like a technical team to work on - if you ask them.

Talk to other SMs on other teams and take on some of their backlog items.

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The analysis you need to do is comparing your holding costs with the cost of layoffs--including severance pay possibly--and recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and bad hire risks. Depending on your predicted timeline of when work will be available, holding existing staff while they do nothing is likely cheaper than the alternative. If the date is way down the line, then you may not have a choice but to send everyone packing and hope they're available when work comes in.

If holding is cheaper, then load them up with innovation research, education, documentation development, etc.

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