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distributed scrum

Shared vs. dedicated Scrum Master in distributed Teams


Shared vs. dedicated Scrum Master in distributed Teams

No matter if you’re running a distributed Scrum or not you’ve to find balance of sharing most experienced Scrum Masters over multiple Teams and facilitating a scrum Team the best.

Each team has to have a Scrum Master in Scrum. One approach is 

to share t

hese rare resources over multiple Teams, another to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. Lets compare both options and think about what is best for distributed Scrum Teams.  

Shared Scrum Master

Especially if a company is new to Scrum experienced Scrum Masters are very rare. Often those are expensive external Scrum Consultants, so it’s a good approach to share these Capacity and Costs over multiple Teams. One disadvantage I see in sharing Scrum Master is, that from point of view of team Scrum Master looks like an external assessor. This needs a lot of investment in trust and social integration. The advantage of a shared Scrum Master is, his personal distance and objectivity.

It’s getting tricky in a distributed Scrum Team, where you might have 2 or more 

parts of team at different locations handled by same Product owner. In that case it’s best practice, that each part of team has a local Scrum Master. Main reason is, that just if Scrum Master is on site he could take over responsibility of Done and facilitate the team the best. Now this mean in a distributed Scrum Team we don’t need just one-, but one shared Scrum Master per location.

Dedicated Scrum Master

Another option is to have a dedicated Scrum Master per Team. This often is a regular Team Member, that is actively e.g. developing too, but has additional role of Scrum Master. This has advantage that he knows them personal, with there strengths, problems, etc from daily work and could facilitate the team very easy. On the other hand fully integrated Scrum Master won’t  have personal distance to team, that could generate other problems. Especially for companies that are new to Scrum this could be a very 

challenging option, cause the learning curve will be much longer in that approach if no experienced Scrum Masters are already available within company.

In a distributed Scrum Team this has advantage that we don’t need additional resources. It’s just covered within multifunctional team.


Both options have it’s advantages and disadvantages. In distributed teams it’s recommended to have dedicated Scrum Masters per location. Depending at team size this could be covered by an existing team member in personnel union. However, as we know that a distributed Scrum is the most complex thing in Scrum it needs most experienced Scrum Masters available. If there are no experienced Scrum Masters in Company yet there is option to take the longer learning curve, or to add a shared external Scrum Coach, that is consulting all the dedicated Scrum Masters.


We at made exactly this several years ago. By today very experienced Scrum Masters are still rare, but we established a guild meeting (something like a retrospective Meetings over all Scrum Masters

), were we meet and exchange latest experiences, pitfalls, tools, etc. So less experienced Scrum Masters are facilitated and external in-team coaching time was reduced to zero. Furthermore this Scrum Competence Center is responsible for:

  • Internal Standards and best Practices 
  • Initial Training of new Team Members and Scrum Masters in Scrum and Tools 
  • Internal & External Scrum Consulting (Coaching in Scrum Setup/Implementation/Meetings, overtaking Scrum Master or Product Owner Role, etc)

 This gave us flexibility we needed to add new distributed Scrum Teams very easily and shortest possible learning curve. But also to consult our internal team and our Customers in best Practices continuously.

How you solved Scrum Master Implementation with what experiences?


1 Comment

When we have a distributed Scrum?

I'd like to present you my personal definition of "Distributed Scrum". Do not take it too serious. But on the other hand it's not so wrong too. In discussions with newbie's about distributed scrum I often notice, that they put it in relation with nearshore/offshore teams. This gave me reason for finding a simple definition, that makes sense for business people too :-).


It's a fact that a lot of informal talks but also social integration are important topics during a coffee break. Thinking about this I came up with idea, that


Mirko Kleiner, 10/2013

If they don't do, they are distributed and should organize themselves as distributed scrum teams do. I often saw on customer side, that those teams are not aware of being a distributed teams. In other words companies with multiple offices, even in same street/city/country have distributed teams and should be aware of that while implementing scrum.

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Importance of Meetings on same level in distributed Teams

While sharing customer experiences about distributed scrum a very simple action came up, that could have big impact to team culture and satisfaction. Last week we made a workshop with one of our team sourcing customers, that has it's own nearshore team at youngculture as workbench extension of his local developement team. While discussion with customer about they're implementation of a distributed scrum we noticed one simple action I'd like to share with you.

Usually meetings, e.g. daily standup, were done using video conferencing. Therefor each part of team moves to it's meeting room. So far so good.


In this case scrum master was part of local part of scrum team. So local team was talking and talking and often after a while they realized, that delocated part of scrum team was recently disconnected because of network issue. This sounds now nothing special, this happened to everybody of us in the past.

However, customer had afterwards internal discussions about this from another perspective. How this meeting passed off until this moment from point of view of delocated part of team?-The local part of team put themselfs in place of delocated team members and decided together the following action.

From now on scrum master was in any meetings added remotely too. In my opinion they reached with this very simple action, that  both parts of team are handled at same level. Doing so local part of team accepted delocated part of team as full-fledged team members!

To be honest I never looked at this from this perspective, but I will give this higher priority in the future for sure.



Register NOW for my Speech with @JeffSutherland at Free GOTO Night on Sept. 19 in Zurich

Join me when we open the doors to another free GOTO Night organized by trifork Switzerland! We will have Jeff Sutherland answer questions from the audience and the main speech of the evening will be given by Mirko Kleiner from youngculture AG about "Scrum in distributed Teams - The 4 DONT's to be successful". We will serve some light snacks and provide an educational environment for networking - all you have to do is show up.

Pease note we just have 60 seats (first come – first served), so Register now - It's free!

Find attached the flyer for more details but also for sharing: