It seems everyone and every organization is adopting agile scrum frameworks to develop and manage products and projects. There is high demand for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches to help set up new scrum teams. I had a similar opportunity to train and set up scrum teams and work as a scrum master. I prepared an essential checklist to form a highly productive agile team and sharing them here.

Assess the team’s scrum knowledge

When you have more than 60 – 70% of scrum team members identified, or recruited speak with them to understand their work experiences and scrum knowledge. Prior scrum work experience brings value to the team. If they don’t have Scrum knowledge, then schedule a classroom training session on Scrum with experienced trainers to obtain and refresh the scrum knowledge.

Speak to the Product owner

Interact with your product owner and understand the project’s vision and check if the product owner has a backlog with at least a few epics/features/user stories written. Arrange a meeting with the Product owner and scrum team members to share the goal/vision of the product. It helps in minimizing conflict and improve collaboration. 

Time for Team Norms

A multi-disciplinary team requires time to be effective. If team members work for the first time together, they may need more time to start performing as a team. To clear the expectations and align to a common goal, set up a team norms meeting that should discuss work timings, mode of communication, leave announcements, etc. Speak about scrum values in this meeting and help the team members to adopt the collaborative culture and align to the right mindset of transparency, inspection, and adaption.

Help with Infrastructure setup

Help the team members to acquire the required hardware and software to set up the development environment. Make sure they have comfortable seating, easy access to the support team, etc. Sprint has the purpose of producing releasable increments, and that’s not possible if supporting infrastructure not available. Many teams struggle with it, especially in large enterprises, due to silos. Arranging everything takes time. 

Derive Definition of “DONE”

The Definition of Done brings a common understanding for the team members when an increment is Done. The DoD will vary for each scrum team; hence, schedule an interactive session with team members and help them derive the definition of the done before the sprint starts. DoD will provide them a clear agreement and clarity to choose the user stories and complete (Actually complete) the user stories.

Run few sessions of Product Backlog Refinement

It is a good habit to keep your product backlog ready for sprint planning. It is not mandatory to run product backlog refinement sessions before sprint planning, and teams can do it as part of the sprint planning. But it is highly recommended as it leads to a better understanding of the work needed to develop the product. Run few product backlog refinements to analyze, discuss design approach, split stories, and keep it ready before the first sprint. Developers can use this opportunity to estimate stories, and product owners can prioritize and order the product backlog. Don’t limit product backlog refinement sessions only before the first sprint and find some time to go through the product backlog in every sprint because the product backlog is an emergent list of things. 

Initiate Community of Practices

Community of Practices (CoP) has been proven practice to spread knowledge within an organization. The scrum team needs wider support from other stakeholders within and outside the organization. CoP provides a platform to demonstrate knowledge and acquire knowledge within and from outside the organization. A community can be role-based, such Scrum Master community. Still, I avoid and prefer to use the wider term to avoid silos within the community, but you can always experiment to see what’s works for you.

All set, then you are ready for your scrum ride. Tighten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. As a scrum master, keep Scrum active in the team and help them overcome their challenges. Every day will be learning if mistakes are taken in the right way!

Author's Bio

Naveen is a Lean-Agile Coach, Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) and Internationally acclaimed Speaker in many Conferences and Agile events. He has over 22 years of experience in multiple domains and he is a Certified LeSS Practitioner (Large-Scale Scrum) and one of the early adopters of DevOps practices and teaches DevOps culture around the Globe.