15 Things you can do as Scrum Master to Improve the Scrum Team Velocity in Agile
Scrum team velocity is about consistency. When upgrading the Scrum team velocity, as an Agile Coach, I target:
- First to be able to measure the average scrum team velocity,
- Second to optimize the scrum team velocity, and
- Third, to maintain the velocity predictability long term.
Step 1: When you can measure the scrum team velocity?
The velocity can be measured ONLY if the “Definition Of Done” is respected. It will ensure that all the stories marked as “done” are ready to be used by the final users without ANY intervention from the team, ever.
Step 2: Below a list of things you can do as a Scrum Master to improve the scrum team velocity:
- Help the team to keep the focus on the goal of the sprint. On the daily standup meeting, review the purpose of the iteration and where is the development team versus the sprint goal.
- Don’t allow distractions. People are interrupting the team because of any other reason: explanations, new ideas, curiosity, asking for help. You want the team focused on the sprint goals. As a scrum master, you will take care of removing the team interruptions. You can do that by defining processes or redirecting the requests towards the product owner. The Product owner’s role is to filter the feature requests.
- Help the PO to work with the team. It helps the squad results in multiple ways: clear understanding of the user stories, implementation of the user stories as per Product Owner expectations, testing of the user stories. It helps to identify misunderstandings and defects during the development process and not during the Sprint Review.
- New ideas that come when clarifying the requirements of the stories, or during Product Owner acceptance. That’s why there is the Sprint review: so everyone can give feedback on the functionalities. In feedback comes is product owner responsibility to filter it and to add to the product backlog the
- Put of barrier on the people asking the scrum development team for extra functionalities that aren’t on the sprint backlog. The person closest to the development team is the product owner (PO). It is coming to see the PO asking for upgraded functionalities that weren’t necessarily agreed at the beginning of the sprint. While we want the team to be agile and to adapt, we also want the team to be predictable. Communicate the issue to the PO. Work together as a Scrum team to find the balance between adjusting to change, predictability, and speed.
- Show to the development team the benefits they bring to the Product owner and the stakeholders for being predictable. Working hard is great, and the development team receives appreciation for their hard work. Your role as a Scrum Master is to help to put the hard work in hard facts. Numbers that will enable the Stakeholders to get investments, commit to their clients, plan budgets, and sleep better.
- Guide the team to do one story at a time, together, rather than starting multiple and not finishing any of them. It is imperial to have a multidisciplinary team to achieve this.
- Break the stories small. Smaller stories have more certainty, are easier to do, and pass faster through the workflow from “Ready” to “Done”.
- It is also essential to know that velocity cannot grow forever. When the speed of the scrum team grows every sprint for the last 5 iterations, it is because you have inflation in story points. The velocity inflation means that one story point now has less value than one story points a few sprints ago. As a Scrum Master, your role is to make sure that the team is predictable: they get done (as per the definition of done) the stories they engaged.
- Implement the learnings from the retrospective. The retrospective is a precious meeting for the team. It is the moment they open, they learn, reflect, grow.
- Prevent bugs. I’m a firm believer in the definition of done. It’s not a dream. There will always be things we didn’t plan for, BUT it’s alright. One thing is to have improvements; the other is to cannot develop new functionalities or plan for it due to bugs. The first step is to measure the bugs against user stories. It will help you identify the root cause of the bugs.
- Improve team collaboration.
- Refine the backlog. The refinement will bring clarity for the product backlog on the future sprints without having the pressure of delivery.
- Make use of spikes. They help you break the stories in 2: the unknown part and the known. That way, the team can research the information they are missing without affecting the velocity and without putting pressure on them. Read more about spikes here.
- Remove blockers.
Step 3: How to maintain the velocity in the long term?
Discipline is the keyword. You will have to do the steps above without exceptions.
If you want to read more about what is velocity and how it works: hear an article about it.
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