Like a bandmaster reading their music sheets, a scrum master facilitates information exchange in digital projects involving an agile development team. The “Scrum” methodology consists in allowing teams to self-organize and make changes quickly along with agile principles. At Thales Digital Factory, we aim to uncover the mysterious world and the odds of digital concepts. Let’s see how it works with one of our Scrum Masters, Claire Lossouarn:
You are a Scrum Master, what does it mean?
Claire L.: At the Factory, I am charge of two teams renamed “squads”. The first squad is working on a MVP and the second one on the Digital Platform developed by the Factory. The context is not the same, but the way of working does not change from one team to another.
As a Scrum Master I am working with both teams daily to ensure they are delivering the product in time, gaining autonomy and that they are focusing on their main objectives. At every sprint, we need to deliver value to our client. We can negotiate with the scope but never argue with the product quality. Hence, we need to be able to measure the value produced.
In order to evaluate the value, I make sure that we all work in total transparency, meaning that we communicate effectively on our progress during the sprint by using a visual project management dashboard up to date, for example (board, metrics, etc.), or having Thales Business Line’s Product Owner working with the team at least 2 days a week.
I also work a lot with the team, to develop and improve our ways of working as a group. People continuously learn new things, either from a success or a failure and both are valued [Our Culture Manifesto]. The scrum master escorts the team but is also there to take a step back and give feedback. Sometimes, I need to ask some piece of advice to one of our coaches because I also am learning every day in my job. I may observe situations, but I do not know how to address it right away. I see the role of a scrum master as a centric and human-oriented job. I can either work as part of a group or specifically with a team member. I am never bored as I face unplanned events during and in-between the two sprints ceremonies.
What is your typical calendar as a Scrum Master?
Claire L.: I start with the “Daily” team meeting in the morning. This is the time where the team catches up about the activities performed the day before and what they plan to do during the day ahead. At that moment, we update the scrum board displaying loads of information: who is working on which stories, how long have stories been opened, who oversees the review, and what still needs to be done. This is also the time to share obstacles and try to find a solution.
Next step is the demo, time for the team to share new value added during the past two weeks to our stakeholders and to other squads at the Factory. This time is used to share experiences and to be challenged by our colleagues’ questions.
In the afternoon we spend almost two hours coming back on the sprint content, this is called the “Retrospective”. Either technical or human aspect are being addressed. I am leading the session by offering a dynamic way to the team members to express themselves, which I change nearly every time because I never focus on the same aspect twice. It may happen that we need to understand why the velocity of delivery was lower than usual so we need to find out what event occurred and the objective is to take some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) actions so it do not happen again in the future. I may also want to make the team to take time to celebrate an achievement, so I suggest we focus on the positive aspects.
Once this is done, we can work on the next two weeks: we have a session of backlog refinement where the Product Owner and the team are defining the upcoming work in user stories. During the “Sprint Planning,” we estimate what we will do according to the team constraints, and we commit on a new scope.
How do you always keep the user at the heart of the project you manage?
Claire L.: The user is involved since the first day of the project. More precisely, before the development team take on the project, there is a step called “Framing” when our Digital Partners business development team, the UX and Tech Lead work on the MVP feasibility. This is when the user starts being at the heart of the discussions: will the MVP have users’ demand?
In this phase and all along the project, the UX will make interviews with the users to gather and keep their needs at the heart of our development and choices [in reference to our previous article “UX and UI Design: How We Build User-Centric Applications"].
As a Scrum Master, my mission is to adapt my backlog and feed the team with all possible product features updates leading to more value for the user. This is our motto at Thales Digital Factory: Creating value for our users.