Scrum Master Tips for Running Scrum Events Remotely

As Scrum Masters we are used to dealing with an ever changing, complex environment and that is the sweet spot for being agile and where having an agile mindset  is crucial. One of the key strengths of an agile approach is the ability to quickly shift gear to refocus on new and emerging priorities. People are operating with even more uncertainty and complexity so It’s now more critical than ever, for Scrum Masters to ensure agile practice is maintained and to support teams to continuously improve their practice and self organise but stay connected and focused on the Sprint Goal.

Scrum Events are a important way to help team’s learn and remain focused on goals as each event has a clear intent and point of inspection and adaptation. Maintaining Transparency and ensuring team remain connective and collaborate whilst working remotely is a key factor in their ability to self organise and remain a high performing team.

Scrum Master Tips for Hosting Remotely

Sprint Planning

  • Video “always on” as Primary channel: Use of individual web cameras within a Zoom/ Teams/Webex session
  • Users all dial into the meeting either using provided phone number or computer setting
  • Electronic board is screen shared
  • Be aware of Netiquette and follow the basic online meeting facilitation
  • Keep event to agreed timebox
  • Secondary channel if Video is not working is Conference call with  some  mechanism to share documents
  • Avoid emailing documents to each other
  • Determine the attendee location breakdown and how many people will be attending virtually to ensure load can be accommodated
  • Dial-in to all virtual spaces the day before, and again 5-10 minutes prior to the first scheduled usage to test technology is functioning as expected.
  • Test load of collaboration video channel if attendee numbers may be an issue
  • Take into account factors like different timezones
  • Create a directory of key contacts for the event detailing how all teams, stakeholders and business representatives can be contacted during the event (this could consist of phone numbers or virtual room details)
  • Facilitating remote events imposes certain restrictions so think about how you can inject interactivity during the event such as virtual whiteboards and ideas boards
  • When addressing all attendees, do a “round of the sites” by name so all attendees have an opportunity to provide their feedback
  • Set clear guidelines around privacy and security
  • Use emojis – Don’t underestimate the power of an emoji. Research shows people connect better and react to them like we would to a real human face
  • Don’t assume – encourage team to be open and emphatic and assume the best in people
  • Don’t go MIA (missing in action) – In the office, if you are away from your desk people assume you have been called away to a meeting. Remind team that if they need to head out, let your Scrum team know you will be away for a while and when you’ll be back to join the meeting

Daily Scrum

  • Hosting tips are the same as Sprint Planning above with a few additions to keep in mind.
  • Keep event to 15 minutes or less
  • Don’t forget the human element of the Daily Scrum (allow people time to collaborate and speak informally like would normally happen around the water cooler)
  • Check and monitor team health and look for signs where people may need additional support if their remote set up isn’t helping them be productive and engaged

Sprint Review

  • Hosting tips are the same as sprint planning above with a few additions to keep in mind
  • If running a demo of the Increment, make sure you test the technology the day before
  • Set up a channel chat to the facilitator to ensure the Scrum Team, Stakeholder and Business can provide feedback and ask questions

Retrospective

Even the most prepared facilitator can be blindsided by unforeseen issues. Prepare some alternatives and ‘Plan B’ contingencies such as:

  • Create a communication back channel for the facilitator so they can be made aware of issues that aren’t immediately apparent to them. (e.g. a team or attendee unexpectedly drops out )
  • Think about the “What-ifs” regarding facilitating a remote event and come up with an alternative should the occasion arise. (e.g. What if Webex/Zoom/Teams fails? We have a teleconference line ready. What if Visual Board goes down? We have locally saved screen shot and record progress in excel.)
  • Remote communication during a Scrum event presents unique challenges. Combat them by: being aware of surrounding noise levels to ensure effective communication throughout the event and being aware of communication latency when using digital channels, allow a few seconds for responses.

Want some more resources to help you build your knowledge and capability as a  Scrum Master? Then checkout out our blog on the Scrum Masters Resources and suggested reading list.

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