Introduction to Scrum Master Role
Scrum, one of the common preposition of the agile frameworks, comprises of a simple set of regulations and practices that help any team deliver in short cycles, enables quick assessments, continual learning, and rapid changes to increase delivered value. Therefore, scrum defines roles, ceremonies, and artifacts that have become the basis for most agile transformations. Thus, scrum masters are servants, leaders, and, coaches of any Agile team who help educate the team in Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, and Safe, thereby, ensuring that the plotted Agile process is being executed. They work to avoid (or eliminate) any hindrances, thus, ensuring that the ambiance encourages high-performance team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement. Though a scrum master’s role is based on Scrum and Agile team processes, those applying Kanban principles can follow the duties of a scrum master, as well, to aid the team to achieve their goal and coordinate any activities with other teams.
Who can be a Scrum Master?
A scrum master is, quite often, one among the employees, whose primary motto is to assist the organization and the management of the team and the team members. Sometimes the scrum master’s role even rotates throughout the team members on a sprint by sprint basis. This can be attained by coaching the team to implement and support SAFe principles, identify and eliminate any impediments, and facilitate flow. Hence, the role of a scrum master is better suited for anyone who is working within the organization as a Project Manager, Product Manager, Business Analyst, System Analyst, Developer, Programmer, Quality Assurance Specialist, or Process Engineer.
Briefly, the roles of a scrum master are:
- To teach the scrum practices to the team thereby empowering them to apply those practices to work;
- To lead scrum meetings, whenever required, and to advocate for the team thus sustaining a steady pace and ensuring that the members are working effectively in the set environment. By advocating for the team, especially the development team, a scrum master eliminates the possibilities of any impediments or resolves existing ones.
- To help identify and remove any obstacles that keep the team from going ahead with the project, as planned and designed,
- And, finally, to layout clear project goals and priorities.
By thoroughly analyzing the responsibilities of a scrum master, one can understand that the candidate is expected to be fully qualified, mastered, and knowledgeable, reliable (in some cases, somewhat familiar) with:
- Self-organization, estimation, and story sizing techniques, sprint planning & release planning, ability to continuously retrospect for improvements,
- Understand how to conduct briefs and effective stand-ups as well as maximize the delivered business values. These often called “scrums” are held every day, before the day unfolds, to get the team to focus on “What was done the previous day,” “What will be completed today,” “What are the hurdles to be resolved to complete the day’s target.” This way, the scrum master helps the team members to identify budding or existing impediments and resolve those, thereby aiding the team in the progression of the project/priorities. In sprint planning meetings, the scrum master acts to balance the expectations and hopes of the Product Owner, through questions like “what is possible in this sprint?” These meetings are held until the scrum master feels confident that the team can do the assigned activity or reach the set target by themselves.
Responsibilities of a Scrum Team
- A scrum master’s job is to be the primary coach of Scrum principles, that is, to get the team disciplined through scrum practices. To enact on this role, he/she must know the difference between the roles of a scrum master and product owner, understand what a product backlog is (which is where all the pending work is listed and prioritized), and listing (through priority) the user stories and backlog grooming, create and apply a ‘definition of done,’
- On working with agile requirements as well as their documentation, and the use of agile metrics and tracking tools, called the scrum artifacts, such as task boards, the sprint backlog and sprint burndown charts (where the individual sprint’s pending tasks are tracked throughout a sprint).
The scrum master has the liberty to give an employee a competitive edge in this “high-velocity, changing the (corporate) business world” where the marketing skills, the ability to address any customer’s current demands, and the need to rapidly change direction are key to success. In scrum, the goals of a client, as well as the goals of a team, are separately addressed. The scrum master holds space for the team, thus, assuring that the team’s goals are met without many hurdles.
When defining anything, it is equally important to mention the qualities that do not make the cut. These are the qualities that are not of a scrum master:
The reason a scrum master does not layout any team directives for the members to follow or enlist the project priorities is that he/she is not supposed to boss over the team. As he/she is also a part of the team, it is essential to not appear as a “dictator” to the team members, rather be versatile to their needs and work-flow, thus avoiding any impediments. It is important that the process of scrum principles are transitioned smoothly, not rigidly, as these principles should not become a hindrance but slowly build to aid the delivery and efficiency of the team. The scrum practices should be adopted gradually overtime to the team members while working to know the right scrum fit for the team members. The long term goal is that the team will be so comfortable with scrum practices that they can lead themselves. At that point, it is possible to have what is called Working Scrum Master, who also work directly on the project.
This is a guide to Scrum Master Role. Here we discuss the Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master and ScrumTeam. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –