Scrum Master Role when Using Scrum Software

By Sheila Roberts

There are now many choices of software to support Scrum Teams. Popular software such as Jira has some of features which lead to suggestions that it may undermine delivering Scrum appropriately. I would suggest that as with any software it is a matter of how it is used.

The main criticism is that when the software automatically pushes the remaining backlog items from a sprint to the main backlog without forcing a review it simply enables teams to continue to develop items which may no longer add as much value as others. While this is possible I propose that the Scrum Team should carry out the responsibilities appropriately which would mean this does not happen. Let me explain.

scrum master

At the end of the Sprint when the review is undertaken there are several responsibilities set out which cover this. The Scrum Guide states:

  • The Product Owner discusses the Product Backlog as it stands. He or she projects likely target and delivery dates based on progress to date (if needed);
  • The entire group collaborates on what to do next, so that the Sprint Review provides valuable input to subsequent Sprint Planning;
  • Review of how the marketplace or potential use of the product might have changed what is the most valuable thing to do next; and,
  • Review of the timeline, budget, potential capabilities, and marketplace for the next anticipated releases of functionality or capability of the product.

The result of the Sprint Review is a revised Product Backlog that defines the probable Product Backlog items for the next Sprint. The Product Backlog may also be adjusted overall to meet new opportunities.

If we ensure the review is undertaken and the Scrum Master works with the Scrum Team so that the whole team is aware of the responsibility then the software is not driving the process but enabling the process.

It’s good to use software to facilitate and allow all members of the Scrum Team to see what is done, being done and remains to be done.

It is helpful in identifying the person allocated the task and breaking tasks down into manageable daily sizes to allow progress to be assessed. I am also, however, an advocate of the Team retaining control of the process and fulfilling their responsibilities.

We need to avoid falling into the situation of a bad work person blames the tools.

As a Scrum Master it could be a really good idea to train your team in the Scrum framework and responsibilities so that they don’t just follow the software without understanding what it is designed for and what the team needs to do to optimise its usefulness so that progress is made, not just following the initial backog.  The Scrum Guide is an excellent starting point and doesn’t take long to read. You can get a copy from if you don’t already have it.