Agile methodologies are gaining significant enterprise traction in all industries. More flexible development models—including Scrum—have enabled companies to get products to market faster than ever, which is a must-have in today’s hyper-competitive landscape. In other words, greater flexibility in the process is now required to get quality products to market quickly to stay ahead of increasing pressure from competitors. To truly adopt agile Scrum methodologies and provide the deliverables the business requires, companies need to have a process expert at the helm. Before we proceed to the Scrum Master roles and responsibilities, let us explore the following topics in detail:
- Understanding the basics of scrum
- What is a scrum master?
- Scrum master resposibilities
- Various scrum master roles
- Top qualities of a scrum master
- How to become a scrum master
Understanding the basics of scrum
In short, Scrum methodology works like this: the product owner submits a request and the development team (led by a Scrum Master) breaks it down into smaller pieces, also known as “sprints.” Sprints consist of reiterative and collaborative development and testing procedures in a fast-paced environment and, ideally, create a more efficient product lifecycle. By using agile Scrum methodologies effectively, companies can produce a viable deliverable in two to four weeks. The Scrum Master is at the center of it all by coordinating project activities with business objectives.
What is a Scrum Master?
A Scrum Master holds a position that’s relatively narrow in scope, yet extremely broad in influence throughout any organization. In practice, however, a Scrum Master is working behind the scenes and is not involved in product ideation or strategy. They work more as a conduit between product/line-of-business owners and development teams as a project manager. Because agile processes are entirely dependent on people and collaboration, Scrum Masters must also marry soft skills with the latest tools and methods. After all, software projects have many moving parts, and individual programmers can quickly lose sight of the broader scope when heads-down in code. A Scrum Master, on the other hand, maintains a high-level view, helping teams to understand both organizational and technical dependencies while avoiding chokepoints. This creates a culture of accountability and enables teams to meet critical deadlines.
So now, as you are well aware of what a scrum master is, it's time for you to understand the roles and responsibilities of a scrum master.
Scrum Master Responsibilities
Implement Project Management/Best PracticesThe Scrum Master is responsible for creating and onboarding project teams, integrating them into the organization and providing a clear vision of the product. The Scrum Master also facilitates communication and information exchange between external groups and the project team. They also monitor project progress, provide timely feedback, and drive a culture of agility and learning.
Keep all Parties on Track and InformedThe Scrum Master hosts daily team meetings to get updates on the progress of the project, address potential roadblocks, and ensure that the project is on track. They also host regular sessions to share updates with product stakeholders about how the project is progressing (or not). Ultimately, it’s a Scrum Master’s job to ensure that the team is meeting deadlines with the desired outcome.
Introduce Agile Engineering PracticesTo improve efficiency, Scrum Masters encourage the use of continuous integration (CI) and automation. With CI tools, developers integrate chunks of code into a central repository frequently, from which automated builds and tests run in successive iterations. This repeatable approach reduces the risk, time, and effort associated with traditional development methods. For instance, if a bug appears in one build, it can quickly be fixed in the next. Another agile technique Scrum Masters advocate is “pair programming”, where two developers collaborate in real-time and at the same workstation. Altogether, these practices reduce development time and improve the architecture and quality of the product.
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Scrum Master Roles
The scrum master's role in supporting product owners in the following aspects:
- Find methods to effectively manage the product backlog.
- Help communicate the owner’s wishlist to the project team.
- Arrange and optimize product backlog.
- Organize scrum events as necessary.
The scrum master's role in the organization in the following aspects:
- Lead and coach scrum adoption.
- Plan scrum implementation.
- Implement changes and steps to increase the team’s productivity.
- Collaborate with other scrum masters to improve the methodologies’ efficiency.
So, as we have learned the roles and responsibilities of a scrum master, it's also important for you to understand the top qualities to become a successful scrum master.
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Top Qualities of a Successful Scrum Master
InfluentialA Scrum Master leads various teams that are working on a project to achieve specific milestones and deliverables. They must be able to motivate multiple groups and stakeholders at an organizational level, maximizing the potential of all at stake. As a team leader, the Scrum Master must bridge the gap between the concept of the project and the actions required to complete it. The Scrum Master must have strong leadership and organizational skills.
CollaborativeThe Scrum Master forms an essential link between the product owner and project teams. While the product owner drives the overall initiative, the Scrum Master nurtures the team. Effective collaboration between the Scrum Master and product owner ultimately result in successful products that meet the organization’s requirements. A good Scrum Master should be able to find creative ways to increase organization, collaboration, and productivity to deliver the product the business line owner requested.
ObservantThe Scrum Master is not a manager, but a team member and facilitator. They should be good listeners and pay attention to the challenges the project team is facing at every step of the way. The Scrum Master should also be observant, paying attention to the team’s daily activities to gain a clear view of members’ roles and contributions in sprint sessions.
KnowledgeableBesides resolving and issues that arise, the Scrum Master should also proactively prevent potential problems. This requires overarching knowledge about the product and process. The Scrum Master’s experience enables the team to avoid roadblocks. The Scrum Master should possess knowledge of various work formats and agile methodologies such as XP, Lean, and Kanban.
While Scrum Masters are specialized in many ways, they do have an extensive reach within any modern organization. Above all else, they are responsible for adopting and implementing agile methods to increase team productivity, efficiency, and improve the quality of the deliverables they have been tasked to create. A scrum master possesses a huge role and responsibilities and if you are interested in building your career in this field, you should consider earning an Agile Scrum Master (ASM℗) certification. During your training, you will be introduced to the concepts and best practices and gain the required expertise in Agile and Scrum to pass the official industry exam.