Scrum Beginnings (Part 3): 25 Questions You Should Ask On The First Day

Question Mark

During your first few days as a Scrum Master, there will be so much to learn and so many questions to ask. Given the amount of complexity and variability you could have with your organization, it would be beneficial to have a list of questions that you could have answered as you are getting comfortable. Here are some of my thoughts on topics you could start with.

  1. Is your team familiar with Scrum? If so, do they need a refresher course?
  2. If your team has already been using Scrum, how are they operating? Completely agile? A hybrid of Waterfall and Scrum? Do they have all the standard ceremonies?
  3. Does the team have a dedicated Product Owner?
  4. Does the Product Owner have a clear direction of upcoming features?
  5. Does the Product Owner have support from Product Management?
  6. Is your team in the middle of a release cycle? If so, when is development supposed to be done?
  7. What sprint cadence does your organization use if it’s adhering to Scrum?
  8. How does the team track bugs and defects?
  9. Who is responsible to fix bugs when they get reported?
  10. Is your team truly cross-functional? Do you have the necessary members to ensure work gets completed?
  11. Do you have any remote team members? If so, how does the team handle communication?
  12. What challenges do the team(s) currently experience?
  13. Are there intra-team problems?
  14. Are there inter-team problems?
  15. Does the team have support to run Scrum and run experiments?
  16. Is there communication from Upper management down to the team level?
  17. Does the team have the necessary equipment and tools to get their job done? If not, why?
  18. What forms of communication do the teams use?
  19. What internal websites and sources of information should the Scrum Master be aware of?
  20. Is there existing process that the organization demands?
  21. Are there other teams using Scrum? If so, where are they in their agile journey?
  22. Does the team or other teams have an aversion to Scrum?
  23. If there was a previous Scrum Master, how effective was he? What did he do well?
  24. If the previous Scrum Master was ineffective, where did he fall short?
  25. If there are existing Scrum Masters, do they have tactical and/or strategic meetings as a group to work together to become a better organization?

These are just a few basic questions that I would use to start getting a feel of how the organization operates and what issues I should be aware of. As more time passes, you will begin developing your own questions that relate to your specific situation. One of the first pieces of advice that my mentor gave me on my first day was to carry around a notebook with me everywhere I went so that I could write down questions as they came up. To this day, I still use that advice when I learn about a new technology stack or term that I have never heard before. If you are just beginning your Scrum Master journey, I would always encourage you to stay curious and never stop learning!