Luis Goncalves
Last updated on | Scrum Master

5 Top Scrum Master Tools that every scrum master should know about

by Shirly Ronen
tools that every scrum master should know scrum master tools

5 TOP SCRUM MASTER TOOLS THAT EVERY SCRUM MASTER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

If you want to help your team get things done, make sure you are equipped with the right tools, that’s why I am bringing you 5 top Scrum Master tools that every Scrum Master should know.

If you ask anyone what are the top tools for Scrum Masters, you will probably be offered with task board application. There’s a lot of them out there, and some of them are damn good. But when I am explaining that I need tools that are not necessary applications I usually end up with offers such as burn chart or task board.

Well, that fine as well, but I am looking for less obvious stuff, and still tools that help the team to get things done. When I am looking for a tool, I want more than just an application. Something we can use that will help us elevate team performance.

So I have gathered a list of my top 5 tools “tools” that some of them can fit the term “Sometimes a tool is not just a tool” and yes, some of them are applications but not just an application☺

Here are my top tools for getting things done for Scrum Master.

Poker planning app

It makes the different when the entire team is using an easy app to size their tasks. Poker planning is a great communication tool. It is a canalisation factor for a truly open discussion. It encourages verity of opinions and also a fun way to deal with the ugly side of sizing.

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But even poker planning should be easy to use and available … so I found that when it’s on everyone cellphones, the poker planning session becomes almost second nature. Everyone has a cellphone these days, so cards are out app are in. Just download whatever poker planning app you find out there – it will do the work.

Open window. Remote teams direct communication

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I don’t know how this one is called, but it’s a simple Skype communication open constantly in two (maybe more) remote scrum teams locations. In each location we have a dedicated screen presenting the other side.
In any given time, any team member can pick into that window and call another team member for a direct conversation even though they are remotely located.

This is a hell of a tool that makes remote scrum teams feel they are working together.

Sticky notes!! Yes, just sticky notes

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These small squares that we stick on a board or a wall have power. I mean the real thing, the paper ones.

They are the best thinking tool, an awesome communication tool, they know how to manage meetings, they know how set order in things and discussions, they are colourful easy to carry around, easy to throw away (without losing any code) and never depending on a process implementation to visualize anything you want the way you want it.

I use them for almost anything. From simple tasks on the board to team agenda, planning tool, hideouts, reminders, notes…

Talk with question marks

Why? Because It empowers others and makes everyone feel they count.
I know this is not a tool per-se. But communication was always the best tool around, knowing how to use the communication tricks is a valuable tool. It teaches the importance of listening and gives him firsthand experience of the first step of empowerment.

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And what if there is no coach around? This is one of those tools you can easily use for free.

• The team likes it. It’s light, easy, productive and fun.
• It doesn’t demand any special “psychology craft” skills.
• It’s so easy to use that it holds almost no resistance.
• The feedback is immediate. The person who asks the questions sees the feedback right away, and the information starts to flow better and with better cooperation.
• No one listens to us? They listen now.
• When opinions are out to the air, it enhanced decisions making and makes it easy to solve problems. Especially when we add the rule to answer a question with another question.

White desk (in relation to white board)

Something I realised to be powerful just recently. Why not flip the board.. it makes it a lot more efficient. You can draw everywhere without even get up from your seat. It means that Communication between team members becomes easy immediate and handy.

Planning discussion, instant meetings, any meeting…coding even code review becomes easier when you can just pick up a pen and draw your thoughts on the spot.

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BTW, have you noticed that all of my top 5 are communication tools? Well, this is why I consider them to be my top.

Well, there are some more, but this is my top 5. What yours?

My name is Shirly Ronen and you can find me on Twitter right here.

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Comments

Share your point of view

  1. Hi Shirly,

    I prefer the traditional cards to do planning poker. On the smartphone too many notifications will disturb the planning meeting if you use an app.

    The white desk is a great idea. I used last meeting a big paper from the board, but there you can not remove/update something written. Do you know there a solution to lay over a wooden table to use?

    Stephan

    1. I see your point regarding the cards .. I thought so too until tried the apps. I was surprised that it even worked, but it did I found that when you already anyway with your cell, interruptions are not an issue. Try it, it just works.

  2. Pingback: Its good to talk… | TCGill Coaching
  3. Going back to basics. I always have a calendar visible so the team can see key dates in relation to today. Sprint start and end (yes they should know this), release dates, dates for a big demo, integration testing with other teams, etc. It’s amazing how people forget where they are in relation to what’s coming up. Developers get tunnel vision, and that’s why they are so good at what they do. A calendar is a great and simple information radiator.

  4. Great post. I too love the white desk concept. Although we haven’t had the flexibility to upgrade our desks to be able to write on them, we did buy a couple of cheap glass top tables from IKEA (here in Australia they’re listed under the “Glassholm” name) with adjustable legs.

    These sit in the middle of our team areas, have been adjusted to “stand-up” height, and it’s quite common to see the guys standing around talking/writing on them. I call them our “collaboration tables”.

    There’s a picture of one in action at https://twitter.com/brettwakeman/status/516772830709415936

  5. The ears and …. eyes, watch the nonverbal signals too.

    and a timer.
    Nothing like a good timer to keep the speed in your daily meetings. That was an eye-opener in my case.

    I will certainly try the whitedesk

  6. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for reaffirming my belief about focussing on the delivery and not the framework. I have been facing a lot of criticism from the agile community and the coaches for doing this. But I have been very successful in doing this for over five years.
    @Luis, thanks a lot for presenting this article of Jason. I have been following his work and a big fan of his views.

  7. I am looking for new tools ideas and bounced on this post. I fully agree with the power of physical things but at the end of the day you feel better with having some digitized form of your work that you can access at any time. And sometimes you need to work remotely, so good tools are essential, as long as they are not intended to replace face to face conversation. For example my team uses https://alldone.io as it is dos not have collaboration options. (maybe just yet). This way my team has to talk directly, rather then in the app. Thanks for this article, it’s good to see that communication is most important tool after all 🙂

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