As you may, or may not know, scrum teams follow an iterative approach to product development. Each iterative cycle is defined as a sprint, and for most teams the popular sprint period is that of two weeks. It is extremely key for your team to be able to deliver sprint goals to the client at the end of each two week sprint; for this is one of the foundations to this development approach, continuously delivering value to the client.
In order to deliver whatever the goal is for each sprint, we need to ensure that the team performs at its best. Productivity is the key here, and as the Scrum Master, or Iteration Manager, you will need to maximize your team’s productivity through continuous improvement. Being organized, prioritizing tasks, and adhering to strict time management are all a good start, but let’s dig a bit deeper into it. Here are my four base productivity boosters for scrum teams.

Productivity boost 101

Team environment

The first point to address to guide your team to increased productivity is the team’s environment. When it comes to the workplace, we are all truly beholden to the environment in which we work. Therefore, a productive team must first be able to communicate openly and frequently with one another. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and in the know.
The environment should also be conducive for positive collaborative efforts as no team can succeed together if they cannot work together. Problem solving must have a well-defined manner in which it is handled by the team so as to make the workflow frictionless. Communicating, working together, and solving problems leads to members respecting and learning from one another.
Additionally, there should be opportunities for growth and development for all. Allowing for team members to step up and take ownership of resolving complex problems may be risky, but it also allows for them to push their own limits and grow through experience. Proper recognition and reward for achievements lend to motivate not only individual members, but the team as a whole.
Finally as to the environment, be sure, as the scrum master, that you encourage the team members to prioritize their wellness. Maintaining a healthy and happy team can be the difference between a productive and unproductive team. Burnout is a serious matter that you should always proactively take measures against.

Clearly defined goals

Naturally your team cannot perform at its peak unless they have a clear roadmap and plan of attack for how they will achieve their ultimate objective. Therefore, clearly defined goals are a must and they fall neatly into our item number two for boosting scrum team productivity.
Each sprint requires the Product Owner to lay out clearly defined sprint goals that must be achieved within the two weeks of the sprint; that is, the sprint backlog. The sprint backlog represents the breakdown of tasks and desired outcomes along with a strategy for achieving those. The PO’s list certainly goes well beyond a single two week sprint, but as Scrum follows an iterative process, each two week sprint focuses on the goals that can be achieved with each sprint. Therefore, this leads to an incremental, iterative development cycle to continually deliver value to the client.
Clear goals allows for the team to hone in on what needs to be achieved; this subsequently boosts their productivity as they become laser focused on that which must be completed. This results in a heightened commitment to their work and the iterative process. Each day the team conducts the daily standup, transparently communicating what has been done and what needs doing. This way resources within the team can be optimized for peak productivity.

Development tools

We find ourselves today amidst some of the most innovative technology we have ever experienced in human history. There are more online tools than one can count which your team can use for the development process. All of these tools are designed to boost your team’s productivity and efficiency, yet not all may be suited for your specific development environment so choose wisely.
Product management tools such as Jira, Airtable, and collaboration tools like Miro, Figma and more can be very useful in addition to a CI/CD pipeline; that is, a continuous integration, continuous delivery development. These tools will aid in automating a plethora of things that will greatly assist the team in working more smoothly, efficiently and most importantly, productively.

Quality

Last but not at all least, we have quality. The quality of the increment for each sprint is vital to the development as a whole and the team’s own productivity. Remember with coding that we not only want quantity, but also quality; perhaps this goes without saying, but in the software development industry it’s particularly key. Each increment is a small part of the bigger picture hence, each part needs to be pristine or the whole will suffer. As the saying goes, it only takes one bad apple. Ensuring your team delivers quality increments can further motivate and boost their productivity and overall performance.

In the end, the productivity and performance of your team will not fully depend on your skills as a Scrum Master or Iteration Manager as you are a part of the team; remember that your role is to facilitate improvement within the team so they can reach their peak potential. Use the four points above as a guide to start out on the right foot with your team moving forward in a positive and productive manner. Keep a close eye on each of the above elements as development progresses, ensure they are ever present to ensure maximum performance from development start to finish!

Ponnak Peter Prak
Peter Prak Ponnak
Agile practices
Ponnak Prak, also known as Peter, is a well-known Scrum Master and author at Slash. He was born and raised in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and was always fascinated by different cultures and enjoyed working in diverse environments. Throughout his career as a developer, Peter strived to become a better leader and eventually became a Scrum Master at Slash in mid-2021. Despite being an introvert and non-native English speaker, Peter persevered and challenged his status quo, eventually earning his Professional Scrum Master Certification from Scrum.org in 2022.
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