Development, Musings

Challenges of being a remote Scrum Master

It’s not easy when one is a Scrum Master remote from the entire team! I’ve heard a few times now that it’s rare and a real challenge to work with.

So why do I do it?

  1. Business Unit requires a tech guy. There’s no technical folks in the local office!
  2. Dev team requires a tech interface for the business unit.
  3. Someone thinks its necessary and hired me for the job.
  4. I like the challenge!

Challenges faced

  1. A lot of non-verbal cues get lost in communications and sprint planning.
  2. Missing out on building the team culture and practices.
  3. It’s not easy to help solve a problem with external factors via Skype/Phone.

Does Scrum help?

  1. The practices recommended (Daily Scrum, Sprint Retrospectives) aim to shorten the feedback loop for delivery of features (user stories). It’s really useful when your entire team is not in the same country.
  2. Daily Scrum is done via Skype and everyone’s on a common Skype channel throughout the day. This helps simulate being in the same room although there is a fair bit of communication gone missing in virtual setup.
  3. Sprint Planning is planned in such a way that both Product Owner and myself are with the team during this period with the team. This means a LOT of flying but it’s also helpful to reduce conflicts and ideally get better planning.
  4. Measuring metrics like Velocity, Operational Efficiency, Reliability, etc helps to let management have visibility into the team’s performance.
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