Productivity, Scrum

Top Tools Used by Scrum Masters in the Industry

Published 21/03/2022

hand with tool

The Scrum framework can open doors to endless possibilities for problem-solving. It can help Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and the Development Team make decisions quickly, incorporate customer feedback efficiently, and keep everyone on the same page. As a Scrum Master, when it comes to knocking on the right door for the best Scrum tools, the decision isn’t easy. It can be as scary as choosing a new house. 

A Scrum tool is an agile solution that helps businesses implement the Scrum methodology while managing projects. Scrum project management software offers capabilities such as sprint planning dashboards, reporting tools, and project analytics to track the progress of projects. It also provides reporting dashboards and shared workspaces that facilitate team collaboration and help the team visualize the amount of work required for each iteration.

Top software tools

JIRA

Most of us have probably heard of JIRA because it is one of the most widely used Agile tools for Scrum teams. Atlassian products were built to help teams of all sizes and types manage their work, and it provides nearly every Agile capability imaginable. Though many teams worldwide love Jira, it isn’t without its flaws. The biggest pitfall to Jira is due to its steep learning curve, slowness, and clutter. It can be hard to get started with Jira if it hasn’t been used previously.

Nevertheless, Jira comes with a whole pack of features: Customizable Scrum boards, Backlog management, User stories mapping, Bug and issues tracker, Time tracking, Sprints management, Real-time reporting, Integrated roadmaps, Customizable workflows, Third-Party Application Integrations.

Monday.com

This tool is a flexible management software that any Scrum Team needs in a dynamic environment. Monday.com makes cross-functional work easy, and it includes features covering all project phases, from pre-planning and development to user feedback.

This tool is recommended for first-timers having a shallow learning curve. Scrum Masters can check their team’s work in views, such as a Kanban board.

Monday provides real-time reports that show the team’s progress, continuous improvement, and product backlog. It can also be used for tracking bugs and reporting them quickly in a single place.

MeisterTask

MeisterTask is a great tool for Scrum Masters working with companies that are just starting with the Scrum methodology. However, it can scale quickly, thanks to its built-in automation and many integrations with other tools.

Some basic features of MeisterTask include Backlog Management and Sprints Management. It has a tagging feature for prioritizing tasks and visualizing dependencies. Real-time notifications keep the Team and stakeholders up to date about project progress, and detailed statistics and reports provide insight into the Team’s performance. A personalized dashboard ensures you see at a glance what you need to focus on today and keep track of all tasks.

Miro

Miro is the definitive Agile tool for teams that help put our ideas into real action with boards like Kanban, Jira, Asana, etc. It’s a cloud-based collaboration tool that features a digital whiteboard that can be used for research, ideation, building customer journeys and user story maps, wireframing, and a range of other collaborative activities. The solution’s whiteboard toolkit enables Scrum Teams to create mockups and schemes, write down ideas and leave feedback on other members’ input. Boards can be created using preloaded templates and converted into a presentation or saved as a PDF.

Instead of working hard on documentation with Miro, Scrum Teams can engage remote users for Sprint Plannings and Retrospective online.

A Glance at Top Techniques

Lean Coffee

While its name might sound puzzling, a Lean coffee is simply an informal meeting designed to allow participants to set the agenda as they go. During Lean Coffees, everyone participates and gets a chance to contribute by suggesting topics and voting. It opens up a conversation around the most important issues and questions.

In Scrum, this is the easiest way to start a community of practice or a working group. It brings people from different teams together and starts discussions around topics that matter. As a Scrum Master, you can also use it in retrospectives and workshops to collect subjects for discussion. To find out more about Lean Coffee, you can check this article from scrum.org.

Impact Mapping

Impact Mapping is a graphic strategy planning technique to decide which features to build into a product. As it begins with the intended goal and extends out from there, all identified features directly impact achieving that goal and a clear rationale for how they will do so.

Impact mapping incorporates multiple viewpoints, experiences, and opinions. When the Scrum Master conducts multiple impact mapping exercises with different groups, it will help to deduce where there are overlaps and divergence of impacted deliverables based on the biases of the other cohorts.

This technique is excellent for building a solid foundation for a new product and clarifying the vision for an existing product in development. It can be used with a newly formed Scrum Team to define the product vision, the assumptions and constraints that we have to keep in mind. A great example of an Impact Mapping exercise can be found here.

Empathy Map

Having a good understanding of the needs and interests of the people in our team or the users we design the product for, is essential if we want to have a healthy team dynamic and build a successful product. As the name suggests, empathy maps help product teams build empathy among themselves or with their end-users.

Empathy Map is a great tool to use as a facilitation technique in conflict resolution. If used correctly by the Scrum Master, this tool can help people in deep conflict to understand each other’s point of view.

When used in product teams for building empathy with their end-users, it gets team members thinking from a user-centered perspective and helps them understand the users needs and wants. If Empathy Map has captured your attention, check out this blog entry, including more details and examples.

Sticky notes

Yes, just sticky notes, these small squares that we stick on a board or a wall have power. They are the best thinking tool, an awesome communication tool, they know how to manage meetings and set order in things and discussions. They are colorful and easy to carry around, easy to throw away and never depend on a process implementation to visualize anything.

Scrum Masters use them for almost anything – from simple tasks on the board to the team’s schedule, as a planning tool, hideouts, reminders or notes.

Of course, the above compilation barely scratches the surface of the current tools used by Scrum Masters around the world. 

However, as the saying goes, “A fool with a tool is still a fool”.  As a Scrum Master, it is crucial to choose the right tools for your team. First, you have to understand the need that has to be fulfilled or the problem you’d like to solve with a tool. Then, you need to do extensive research on key features and pricing details to make an informed decision. Hopefully, the above list will help you get a head start searching for the best tools.

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