Making a career choice can be confusing at times and raise several questions in our minds.
So, if you are having the same critical questions in mind and want to explore agile development, then you are on the right page.
Please stick with us until the end to if you want to learn:
- What is Scrum
- What is a Scrum Master
- Scrum master roles and responsibilities
- How to become a Scrum Master, and much more.
We will also have a look at one of the scrum master job descriptions to learn what is industry standard of an effective Scrum Master.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework that generates value through adaptive solutions for complex problems. It is an iterative and incremental structure for project management mainly used in agile software development. The scrum methodology indicates functional software, the versatility to change accompanying emerging communication, collaboration, and business realities.
It works as a motivator as it encourages the team to learn through experiences and continuously work on feedback to improve the processes, the quality of the product and value delivered to customers. This framework is heuristic in nature, as it is based on a continuous process of learning and adapting things to adjust the fluctuation factors.
Never judge a scrum as a rigid framework; it possesses the quality of adaptability and hence can be tailored as per the organization’s needs.
Have you ever wondered why its name is SCRUM?
This term is borrowed from RUGBY, as SCRUM is a formation of players. It emphasizes teamwork.
Now that we know what Scrum is, let’s understand what a Scrum Master and Scrum Master responsibilities are right off the bat!
Who is a Scrum Master?
Scrum Master known as a “Servant Leader” is someone who ensures the team is not violating any Agile & Scrum principles and values that they promised. A coach, motivator and a leader for an Agile team, Scrum Master is the man behind the show.
This means that the Scrum Master roles and responsibilities are not involved in carrying out product ideation. Scrum Master ensures Scrum is understood by everyone and followed in its entirety. It is a serious job that is deeply rooted in leadership.
Scrum Master roles and responsibilities include smoothing the functioning of the process. They work by taking a more holistic approach by rendering services more efficiently while promoting a sense of community.
It is also the most underrated role since Scrum Master’s unlike any other role do not produce any tangible output. The Scrum Master role does not have the full authority to make strategic product decisions. However, he or she is accountable for the Scrum process and the effectiveness of the scrum team. Any decisions on the scope of the work are the responsibility of the product owner and not the scrum master. Scrum Master jobs include working tirelessly to inculcate the values of Scrum within the team and make it self-organizing.
After understanding what exactly scrum is and what are Scrum Master responsibilities, let us elucidate the functioning of ScrumMaster role in a detailed manner. However, it has several roles to perform below sharing the most important ones.
Scrum Master Responsibilities
Many of us are confused with what a Scrum Master does all day. In this segment, we will discuss the most important Scrum Master roles and responsibilities, and they are:
- Resolving Impediments
By impediments, it means “Hindrances”. So, it means it is the responsibility of the Scrum Master to resolve the issues or hindrances that stop them from giving 100 percent. Therefore, management is needed to fix the problem.
- Training People
Scrum Master coaches or gives training to scrum teams. Mentor organizational staff to understand how they function and who they are beneficial to them. The scrum master must make sure that the team is well-equipped to take up all the challenges by themselves. No doubt the scrum master role is always there to help in resolving the issue by taking all the accountability and ownership.
- Process Intervention
It is one of the most important responsibilities as a scrum master. Maximizing the values and principles of Scrum in the organization. Scrum Master helps the team deliver quality-driven business value. the Scrum Master likewise does not hold the duty of ensuring the work is completed. With all things being equal, the person assists the group by characterizing and clinging to its cycle to ensure the work is complete.
The Scrum Master goes about as a defender and helps the group by shielding it from outside impedance that comes in the method of conveying the business esteem during each run. Impedance can emerge out of numerous sources. Regardless of what wellsprings the impedance, Scrum Master goes about as an interceptor and tackles the issue agreeably.
- Issue Resolver
Sometimes there can be issues internally within the team with the scrum process. During that period, it is the responsibility of the Scrum Master to not take a specific side of an individual rather than work as a whole and help to iron out the issue.
We recommend reading our blog on 9 tips to be a successful Scrum Master.
Now you are well-aware about the Scrum Master responsibilities and what a Scrum Master does all day. It is important to know the Scrum Master roles and responsibilities in account of each role.
Scrum Master Role Accountability
Scrum Master role include providing various services to the following people in the team. Let us check what you need to perform if you are planning to take up this role.
Per Scrum Guide the Scrum Master’s services
1. To Product Owner
- Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management;
- Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
- Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and,
- Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.
The main scrum master role is to ensure effective communication of the product owner’s wish list to the scrum team. The scrum master also must ensure organizing the events and workshops related to the scrum whenever required and optimize the product backlog. Moreover, it is further important to impart the knowledge of product planning in an empirical environment.
2. To Organization
- Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
- Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization;
- Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work; and,
- Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.
The scrum master roles and responsibilities in these organizations vary. It leads the organization in successful Scrum adoption. It also helps to increase the productivity of the team by working efficiently without wasting resources. Scrum Master plans Scrum implementations within the organization.
3. To the Scrum Team
- Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality;
- Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done;
- Causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress; and,
- Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.
Scrum Master works as a coach to the development team in self-organization. Encourages the development team for the creation of high-value products.
4. Scrum Framework
Scrum Master also manages the scrum framework. We keep a check that the attendees of the webinars and seminars understand the key purpose of conducting these events. Ensure that Sprint Retrospective is performing in such a way that it imparts positive results and increases productivity.
Qualities of an Effective Scrum Master
- Courage — There are many important skills and traits for Scrum Masters, but when making a top three, ‘courage’ should be in there. As explained in the Skills section, the Scrum Master is a servant-leader. The Scrum Master leads the way. This is especially true for courage. Many organizations are ‘damaged’ in some sort of form. In many organizations, people are afraid to speak up, make mistakes and take responsibility for example. The Scrum Master as a leader has a major role to play by showing people courage, so that they will follow and act courageous.
- Openness — Transparency, which is needed to inspect and adapt, is one of the pillars of Scrum. Openness is an extremely important value in Scrum. They are both crucial to Scrum being successful. However, being completely open and transparent is scary for a lot of people. Therefore, the Scrum Master should be open and honest, and again, be an example for other people to follow.
- Empathy — Being able to feel, being able to sense what is going on in a group of people, is crucial to the Scrum Masters’ success. The most valuable things are often said in between the lines or can be read from non-verbal communication. This is often input for the Scrum Master to be used for training and coaching people, to maximize the value of Scrum.
- Collaborative — Being a Scrum Master, one should have the right collaboration skills to work with the product owner, development team, and all other stakeholders, even those who might not be directly involved with Scrum. The Scrum Master works as a process coach to help the Scrum team members achieve their goals.
Skills required to be an effective Scrum Master
- Agile Expert — Great Scrum Masters are experts in Agility. They have mastered the Scrum Framework, but they are also highly skilled in other Agile frameworks, methods, and practices. Scrum Masters are experts in Agile values & principles and know how to train, mentor, coach and facilitate other people in adopting these values.
- Coach-Consultant — Great Scrum Masters are a ‘coach’ for the Development Team, Product Owner and Organization. They can coach people, by asking powerful questions for example, thereby changing peoples’ mindset and behaviors. They are also consultants, who can offer advice, share practices, and provide support for organizations regarding Agile governance or Agile contracting for example.
- Servant-Leader — The Scrum Master is a servant-leader. He or she leads by example. The Scrum Master leads the way by showing the behavior necessary to make the change happen.
Challenges faced by a Scrum Master
- Resisting change – Perhaps the most frustrating roadblock is resistance. It can come in many forms, active or passive, overt or covert, says Mike Cohn, the author of Succeeding with Agile and Agile Estimating and Planning.
- Misunderstanding process – Because Scrum introduces such fundamental change to the way people work, there’s room for great confusion in its daily implementation, experts say. It is common for people to think they understand Scrum but to confuse old terminologies and methods with Scrum processes and terms.
- Failing to adapt to changing roles – Transitioning to Scrum shakes up roles throughout teams, departments, and even the entire company (cross-functional and self-organization), and that can be scary. Managers, for example, may fear a loss of authority or control, while team members may have trouble stepping up to a group-driven process.
Qualify Scrum Master Job Description
Now that you know the ins and outs of a Scrum Master, you can decide if you want to choose this as your career path. If you choose to become a Scrum Master, just reading this blog will not be enough, you have to take the necessary steps to be a competitive candidate in the job market filled with cut-throat competition.
1. Develop Skills
It is important to possess the Scrum Master skills that the employers needs for you to perform well in their organization and be an asset to them. But before all, you must have a bachelor’s degree or a working knowledge in the related field to qualify for the role. If you are serious about your career, you must have a Scrum Master certification for recognized authority to prove your worth.
2. Get Appropriate Scrum Master Training and Certification
There are many institutions out there in the market providing Scrum Master certifications – make sure that you choose the right one. However, pursuing a certification is not compulsory but it surely gives an edge over the competitors.
3. Build a Scrum Master Resume
A resume is the first point of contact between you and the employer – therefore, it is important that it successfully communicates your strengths in the right manner. From the skills you possess to your roles and responsibilities you have performed so far, your educational background/certifications – everything should be covered in the coveted paper.
To become a successful scrum master, you must read the do’s and don’ts of a Scrum Master.
The Scrum Master plays the role of a caretaker, making sure that everyone is on the right track, and the values and principles of Scrum are intact within the team. Scrum Master plays a pivotal role in balancing the interests of the other two Scrum-roles: the product owner and the development team. Typically, the Scrum Master helps in developing and streamlining clear channels of communication, ensuring timely deliveries of high-quality projects.
As the adoption of Agile has increased so has the need for Scrum Master to guide the team to make sure business growth improves. A Scrum Master’s role is one of the key roles that determine the success of a project. When a Scrum Master helps his / her team manage their process, the entire organization can realize the benefits. I hope the above points helped you in making up your mind whether to take up this role as a career path or not.
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Satyajit Gantayat is an Agile Coach and a SAFe Program Consultant with more than 20 years of experience in Agile Transformation, Agile & DevOps Implementation, Digital Transformation, Delivery Program Management, Automation, Cloud Migration, and Mobile App Development in Product as well as Service Organizations across domains like E-commerce, Banking & Financial Services, Health Care, Public Sector, and Consulting. As a continuous learner, Satyajit has certifications in Scaling Agile, Scrum Mastery, Agile Coaching, and Project Management.