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Ask Mr. Agile®: How do I justify the need for a dedicated, full-time scrum master on each team?

Interviewer: How do I justify the need for a dedicated full-time scrum master on each team?

Mr. Agile®: This is actually a very common question that we get, and the reason that I think it's so common is that a really good scrum master is proactive rather than reactive. So when you have a really good scrum master working on a team many times there isn't the drama and there isn't the showmanship necessary for people to realize that you're working as hard as you are, but this is one of the key factors on whether you're going to see the performance improvements that you expect when you move to agile techniques.

I'll give an example, let's say that we have a team that has a product backlog of 500 story points and the team is doing on average 20 story points per sprint, let's say that the team is costing $40,000 per week and they're running a two-week sprint. If that scrum master is able to remove organizational impediments and other barriers that the team has so that their velocity rises to being able to do 25 story points per sprint, we're going to shave 10 weeks and $400,000 off that project. The main thing that organizations need to realize when it comes to dedicating a scrum master for each team is: a marginal improvement in velocity has an exponential improvement in financial bottom line.

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