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I'm finding that outside of the Scrum Master duties and responsibilities, I'm not filling my day at work.

We run a two week sprint cycle, daily I do the standup with developers and write up the notes from it. Then I do a standup with business stakeholders and write up those notes. Then I manage the Kanban Board and move things along. Check the sprint Backlog and how items are progressing, do daily Team Velocity and individual velocities and the same for burndowns. Also I run round checking and chasing impediments to the developers and managing changes and new requests from Product Owners.

In the second week of the sprint I prepare the product backlog with the Product Owners for the next sprint. Manage and plan the sprint planning and estimation with the developers and plan and run the retrospective. First half of the sprint is sorting and managing the sprint debt items and reallocating them with in the backlog and negotiating with Product owners about their completion.

It may sound like I'm very busy but there are gaps in my day and I'm wondering if there is anything I am missing or should be doing that I'm not?

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It may sound like I'm very busy but there are gaps in my day and I'm wondering if there is anything I am missing or should be doing that I'm not?

That's a fairly complete and concise list of the ScrumMaster responsibilities. Add the following things to your responsibilities.

  1. Educate management on benefits of Scrum. You said that you track individual velocities because "management wants metrics". However, most agile process experts recommend against tracking at the individual level. One of your roles must be to protect the team and allow it to be self forming. Management needs to understand why it's a bad idea for you to provide them metrics on individuals. If they want that data, then explain why they need to get it without you.
  2. Take time to visit with team members. Everything you described was Scrum101 - by the books. However, none of that matters if team members are unhappy or unmotivated. You are one of them and they should see you that way. Schedule social events, talk privately with members who may be struggling more than others. Be genuine and be helpful.
  3. Take time to understand the product. Find key weaknesses and work with the team to develop stories that improve them. Then help the product owner understand the benefits.
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Actually in vast majority of teams I know Scrum Master is either as additional role for one of team members, which means that SM does regular project work and on the top of that does what you do, or a single SM works with a few teams.

You don't share your background, but basing on a fact you don't do any project work I consider you're more of a "specialized" Scrum Master. In this case I'd advise to start working with a second team and then possibly with another if you still have empty gaps in your schedule.

Another obvious idea is to pull some work items for yourself as long as you're competent enough to deal with development/testing/whatever.

PS. I would rethink whether everything you do is actually needed. I don't say it is not, although managing Kanban board for the team or measuring individual velocity sound like overkill. Maybe the team needs it - you definitely know better than me - but don't try to be control freak.

Actually filling your schedule to the point where you are short of time should help you to decide which activities are really needed or add value and which may be skipped with no difference whatsoever.

UPDATE (basing on comment): If your main goal is to mentor the organization, do that. Look for opportunities to teach. Maybe there are other development teams. Even if there aren't you have much work to do not only in marketing and customer services but also among senior managers. As long as they insist on measuring individual velocity my guess is they don't really get what agile is.

In short: if you spend more time with a team you just make them more efficient with their new tools. However, if you spend more time building the widespread understanding of agile concepts among the whole organization you teach them that their new tools enable new methods of building things as well. They don't need to bring it all down to individual performance. Basically Scrum set focus on team performance and team accountability instead.

BTW: a mixture of top-performers doesn't necessarily make a top-performing team.

  • I was employed specifically to tutor/mentor the team on Scrum/Agile techniques. I have no programming skills what so ever. Also, my role is to introduce (at a later date once development reaches self Organising/Actualisation) scrum concepts to Marketing, Customer Service and other areas of the business as well as introducing other methods such as Lean and Kaizen to manufacturing as an example. The individual velocities are overkill, I agree, but senior management want metrics and individual performance management for targeted training. – gruffalow Sep 29 '11 at 17:50
  • Perhaps you should focus some attention on getting senior management to focus on what matters (delivery of the project goals) rather than trying to rank their employees. – Sean McMillan Oct 5 '11 at 17:22
  • Velocity is not about ranking employees. Measuring the velocity of individual developers can assist in calculating time estimates towards future stories, i.e. John Doe had a velocity of .75 on a client-side story and a velocity of 1.25 on a server-side story, so we can use John's velocity in those stories to help estimate the time towards a user story that contains elements of client or server work (or perhaps there were other external circumstances that impacted John's velocity on those sprints). However, I agree that measuring velocities on a daily basis is probably overkill. – David Kaczynski Sep 1 '12 at 17:17
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Have a look at these websites:

I bet there are things in those lists that might help fill your days

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It sounds like you are doing scrum by the book, focusing on following the processes rather than building a team that is delivering the best software possible. If you have a team functioning well, look to break the rules to improve things. As a Scrum Master your role is to help a development team improve. If you have 'nothing to do', you are implying you are working with 'the perfect team'.

Find areas of improvement.

Some examples:

  • Paying more attention to the team, getting inside team members heads to help find areas that could be improved. I've worked with teams that think it is normal for the build to take an hour, so they don't mention it but it is a constant pain they feel. There can be both obvious and very subtle blockers that could be removed.
  • Talking to people outside the team - could communication between the team and other stakeholders be improved?
  • Researching new things - there might be a useful tool or method to improve communication / development / deployment / make tastier snacks, anything that helps the team really.
  • Learn more about agile and other development methodologies. Scrum is an easy way to get a team understanding and doing agile development, but maybe the team would work better using Kanban, or some other approach. Learn other methodologies, or inspect and adapt to come up with your own that works even better in your case.
  • Make everyone a cup of tea / coffee.

Having spare time is a blessing - use it well to invest back in the team.

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A good Scrum Master can manage three scrum teams; a great Scrum Master can manage one scrum team.

Personally I think one of the most important tasks of a Scrum Master is not just his team, but also making sure the organisation and the clients understand and conform to Scrum. This will improve the process end-to-end.

Also see these lists of possible tasks and team improvements you can work on:

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