I'm a new Scrum Master. Should I be updating the team's burn charts?


No! Emphatically, NO! As Scrum Master, you should not be updating the burn charts.

“Why not?”, you ask.

“Isn't my job to help the team? Besides, updating the burn charts is in my job description.”

If this situation seems familiar, you're not alone. The vast majority of Scrum Masters are expected to do things that are antithetical to the role.

Yes, you might find yourself teaching your team some techniques for tracking their progress like a burn chart. Heck, you might even find yourself modeling how to track, but make no mistake, it is not your job to track the team's progress.

Scrum, consistent with the Agile Manifesto, emphasizes the principle of self-organization. A Scrum Master updating the team's burn chart interferes with this self-organization. If the Development Team is to own their process, they must also own the tracking of that process. Likewise, if the Product Owner is to own the product, she must also track progress against her product vision. A Scrum Master taking on this tracking work delays or blocks the taking up of this ownership. Scrum Masters are supposed to remove impediments, not be one.

If your team or organization expects you to be updating the burn charts, it's likely not your fault. It is, however, your job as Scrum Master to help them understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values and why your updating the burn chart is not a good idea.

Be prepared, this convincing might be hard work. But the effort is worth it. A self-organizing team shows more initiative and is more committed and more productive. And, the transparency inherent in Scrum also ensures that stakeholders who care will have visibility into the team's real progress.

By all means, if your team is struggling with how to track their progress, be prepared to help them. But remember, it’s their problem, not yours. Help them solve it for themselves. After all, the tracking is for them, not you or anyone else. If they own it, they will create something that works for them. And anyone else, seeing what the team comes up with, will have a better understanding of what is really going on.

So keep your hands off the burn charts! (As soon as you can!)

Learn more tips like these at our next Certified Scrum Master class!