The Scrum framework prescribes three accountabilities: that of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and the Developers. The role of the ‘Scrum Master’ is just that—someone who is a master of all things Scrum! He or she is a Scrum expert who wears many hats and takes on multiple responsibilities on the team. A Scrum Master, in fact, is a coach, facilitator, teacher, manager, change agent, mentor, leader and impediment remover, all rolled into one.
So, when the question arises: What is one prerogative of a Scrum Master? The answer would be, that a Scrum Master has many prerogatives, and not just one! In this blog we’ll attempt to help you understand what all these prerogatives are, and why the Scrum Master’s role is critical to the success of the team.
What, exactly, does a Scrum Master do?
The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization. - Scrum Guide
As laid out in the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master does everything possible to improve the Scrum team’s effectiveness. They are the true leaders of the team, who serve both the team and the entire organization.
What are the Prerogatives of a Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master has many exclusive prerogatives on the team. These can be divided into three, with respect to the services rendered to the Product Owner, the Team and the organization.
Services to the Team:
- Coaching: The Scrum Master, being the Scrum expert on the team, coaches the others and guides them in the Scrum implementation. The team is required to be self-managed and cross-functional, and the Scrum Master guides them in achieving this.
- Emphasizing focus: The team should always be able to maintain a sharp focus on rolling out product increments of high value. Each increment should meet the Definition of Done that was laid out at the beginning of the sprint.
- Removing obstacles: It is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to iron out any impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress. Any problems that the team members face is brought to the Scrum Master’s attention, and solutions or workarounds will be found.
- Facilitating events: The Scrum Master should ensure that all Scrum events take place as required. This includes the Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Reviews and Retrospectives. As the event manager, the Scrum Master keeps the meetings positive and productive and maintains the duration within the scheduled timebox limits.
Services to the Product Owner:
- Supporting with the Product Goal and Product Backlog: While the Product Goal and Product Backlog fall under the Product Owner’s purview, the Scrum Master helps to find the right techniques to define the goal and manage the backlog. This includes grooming and re-ordering the Product Backlog Items at the end of each sprint.
- Defining Product Backlog items: The Scrum Team might not be able to clearly understand the need for proper definition and articulation of the Product Backlog Items. Without the Scrum Master’s intervention and expertise, these PBIs could become too verbose or improperly articulated.
- Product Planning: Drawing on past experience and expertise, the Scrum Master supports the Product Owner with product planning for a complex environment. Past performances and differences between team velocity and capacity are factored in, the complexity of the tasks is evaluated, and a plan which forecasts the product delivery is charted out.
- Facilitating stakeholder collaboration: Whenever the stakeholders are required to intervene, the Scrum Master steps in to facilitate this communication.
Services to the organization:
- Acting as a leader, trainer and coach: The Scrum Master acts as a true leader, a coach and a trainer all rolled into one. When the team members are new to the Scrum implementation, he or she guides and coaches them on the principles, processes and values. If training is required, it falls under their purview. As a leader, the Scrum Master leads by example.
- Planning: When the team is transitioning to Agile, there may be many people at various levels who do not understand the value of a Scrum implementation. The Scrum Master advises and helps to plan this transformation.
- Helping with an empirical approach for complex work: The Scrum Master acts from experience to map out the best approach that will work for the team. This approach is explained to all the team members and is put into action by the Scrum Master.
- Removing barriers: There could be times when the stakeholders and Scrum Teams are not in sync. The Scrum Master smoothens lines of communication, gets everyone on the same page and removes any barriers to progress.
It has been famously said that Scrum is ‘easy to understand but difficult to master’—and this is exactly why the role of a Scrum Master is so important on a Scrum team! As the true leader on the Scrum team, the Scrum Master ensures that the principles embodied in the Scrum framework are upheld by everyone. The guidelines that have been laid out in the Scrum Guide are efficiently understood and implemented, and the Scrum Master smoothens out obstacles and solves any issues that may arise.
As companies look for ways to roll out Agile projects more quickly and efficiently, expert Scrum Masters are in great demand. There’s no better time than now to get started on a career as a Scrum Master!