Agile Nearshore Scrum Methodology: On or offshore Scrum Master?

Agile Nearshore Scrum Methodology: On or offshore Scrum Master?
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The Agile Scrum Methodology has become quite popular with development projects. In addition to boosting the collaboration and productivity of the development team, Agile Scrum can also provide the opportunity to spot and address any application issues earlier in the development process.

At the same time, many companies are also opting for nearshore development, where they utilize the services of an organization in a nearby country. U.S.-based groups, for instance, oftentimes leverage developers in Costa Rica as it presents an ideal agile nearshoring development location.

When nearshoring is combined with the Agile Scrum Methodology, a common issue that many teams must address is where the Scrum Master should be located. Some groups opt to keep their Scrum Master close by the product owner, while the team operates from the nearshore location. Others position the Scrum Master nearby, if not at the same location, like the nearshore developers. Both approaches have their merits, but many people wonder, which is best?

The Role of the Agile Scrum Master

Before examining the pros and cons of where to locate the Scrum Master, let’s examine the unique role this individual plays in the Agile Scrum Methodology.

According to Scrum Methodology, the Scrum Master is one of three fundamental roles along with the product owner and the team. The main role of the Scrum Master is to support and oversee the activities involved in the project, facilitating communication and connections between the product owner and the team. At the same time, however, the Scrum Master does not commit to completing work for the development team and has only limited management authority.

“The Scrum Master remove[s] any impediments that obstruct the team’s pursuit of its goals,” Scrum Methodology stated. “In other words, the Scrum Master does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity. It might be easy to summarize a Scrum Master’s work in a sentence or two, but scenarios he or she could face are truly infinite.”

For instance, if a developer has issues with their computer, the Scrum Master is the one who gets the machine running again. In this way, the Scrum Master plays an integral role in the development team and must be able to give developers every tool and resource needed to effectively and productively complete the project.

Where is the best location for the Agile Nearshoring Scrum Master?

While some projects may be successful when the Scrum Master is not with the developers, Look Forward Consulting noted that this individual can better fulfill their duties when they are with the team. Especially when it comes to solving issues the team experiences, the Scrum Master is much more capable of addressing obstacles when they are with the team members who are dealing with them.

“Scrum Masters must be present with the team to help…identify and encourage [them] to take responsibility for resolving the impediments as they occur,” Look Forward Consulting stated.

At the same time, however, some occasions don’t allow for the Scrum Master to be with the development team throughout the process. In these instances, the project can still be successful when supported by clear communication among the team, the product owner and the Scrum Master, ERNI contributor Cedric Escher noted.

This was the case with one project where the Scrum Master was in Switzerland and the team was in Slovakia. Team members and the Scrum Master traveled to each other’s locations whenever possible, and daily communications took place over email, instant message and video conferences.

“Thanks to the regular and open exchange of ideas, the Scrum Master and the product owner were always up to speed on the project status and had a firm grip on their projects,” Escher wrote. “Communication is crucial to the success of Agile methods, especially in near and offshoring scenarios.”