Today’s world is in a state of flux, and industries are constantly evolving. With new technologies coming to the fore every other day, there is a lot of uncertainty around how to ensure that the skills you have will continue to have relevance in the future.
While the Scrum Master’s role is in demand today, is it a career that is future proof? Indications are that it will continue to be highly sought after across industries, in the immediate future as well.
According to Agile Alliance, “The scrum master is the team role responsible for ensuring the team lives agile values and principles and follows the processes and practices that the team agreed they would use.”
In other words, a Scrum Master is someone who is an expert on the know-hows of Scrum, and can coach and lead others in its implementation. A Scrum Master’s career can be lucrative and professionally rewarding.
The recent pandemic has reinforced the need for organizations to be agile to cope with changing times. A Scrum Alliance® membership survey outlined in the State of Scrum Report 2016 showed that companies from across sectors are using Scrum and Agile to innovate and remain competitive--an indication of the popularity and importance of Scrum even before the disruption caused due to the pandemic.
The same survey also indicates the evolving role of a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master has the expertise and capability to perform multiple functions and wear many hats. From streamlining processes, to facilitating collaboration to bringing about organizational change, a Scrum master is a master of all trades.
More than ever before, in the current disruptions that industries are forced to navigate, a Scrum Master is needed to guide a project to success and help meet organizational objectives.
The road to agile and scrum transformation is never smooth. And it is virtually impossible without the involvement of one role—that of the scrum master.
As organizations have grown, so has the scope of projects and teams. With so many teams and so many responsibilities, a lack of co-ordination can lead to chaos. A scrum master brings about collaboration between teams and stakeholders, removes obstacles and creates an environment of innovation and growth for the development team.
In your career as a Scrum Master your main responsibilities will be to:
A scrum master’s job involves overseeing of the day-to-day activities of the scrum development team. They aim to implement scrum processes and principles and ensure timely delivery of the product by working in tandem with stakeholders and the product owner.
If you have been in a scrum master role for a few years, the question topmost on your mind must be about your career path. What are the future roles that are open to you?
A true Scrum Master’s career trajectory cannot be complete without continuous learning and self-improvement. That being said, a scrum master’s unique ability to coach, facilitate and lead agile in an enterprise-wide transformation effort cannot be ignored by the management.
Scrum Masters who have started out on their careers can go on to gain advanced level skills and serve as experts in managerial positions. Some of the top-level scrum positions are Chief Agility Officer, VP of Agility and eventually Chief Executive Officer.
One of the primary responsibilities of the scrum master is to help team members understand the values and principles of agile; and reinforce the benefit of being in an agile model. In the process, the scrum master performs the role of an agile coach.
While in many cases these two roles often overlap, according to the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, these are primarily distinct roles and need different people carrying them out to avoid conflict.
The product owner has a specific responsibility and that is to serve the customer or stakeholder. The scrum master serves the development team and works with the product owner. Both roles have different scope and agenda and should be separate.
In the process of helping the team understand agile and scrum principles and processes and helping transformation, the scrum master invariably performs the role of a mentor. Scrum masters also become mentors due to their ability to resolve conflicts and promote a peaceful working environment.
While a Scrum master’s role is a management level position, the scrum master cannot be called a manager. Managing the team or team members does not come under the purview of a scrum master’s responsibilities. The scrum master manages the scrum process rather than people.
This is where the expertise of a scrum master can be truly gauged. An effective scrum master is one who is able to transform an organization to agile and help others achieve their potential by clearing impediments and roadblocks.
A Scrum Master’s role is to create and lead self-organizing teams, motivate the teams and help them perform without any impediments to deliver superior quality products.
The Scrum Master’s expertise in bringing about transformation, coaching on agile, facilitation skills and servant leadership are skills that will be more indispensable when the Scrum Master takes on higher leadership roles in the company.
There are several Scrum Master certifications available, each with their advantages and benefits. The most prominent among these is the Certified ScrumMaster® certification by Scrum Alliance.
Other certifications include Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) by Scrum.org, SAFe® Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) by Scaled Agile Academy, Inc, Project Management Institute- Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® by Project Management Institute (PMI)® and Scrum Master Certified (SMC™) by the SCRUM study.
These certifications will help you start a career as a scrum master or refine your techniques to help work better. They are a validation of your skills and will help you land lucrative scrum master jobs.
According to Glassdoor, certified Scrum Masters on an average earn around INR 1447310 per annum in India. A Scrum Master earns an average annual salary of $97,319 in the U.S., and on gaining a Certified ScrumMaster® credential could earn $118353 a year on an average.
Scrum and Agile have now transcended far beyond the world of IT. Their benefits have now found resonance with companies in diverse sectors who are adopting scrum to stay in the competition and cope with the fast-changing economy.
Scrum Masters can make their careers in telecom, manufacturing, retail and government organizations. Some of the companies hiring scrum masters are:
As the scope and geography of projects increase, one has to deal with multiple team members belonging to different cultures, and work to deliver products that suit the needs of stakeholders and customers.
A millennial scrum master’s work involves collaborating across multiple distributed teams and handling change when there is resistance, even as you strengthen the agile development team.
A scrum master with the right training and expertise can carry out the responsibility of working with multiple teams with success.
Once you start out on a career as a scrum master, you have plenty of options ahead of you. By leveraging your expertise and knowledge of scrum you can take on roles of an agile coach, product owner, mentor, and leader.
There are plenty of certifications available that will help you broaden your knowledge or build on your existing knowledge and skill set to take on these challenging roles.
Are these roles interchangeable? No, they are not. While both roles work towards ensuring delivery of quality products and mentoring and guiding teams, a project manager’s role is focused on delivering the project on time, within budget and within scope. A scrum master’s focus is on the implementation of Scrum principles and values, ensuring that goals are met in short sprints and the team is able to perform without any roadblocks.
The main differences between the responsibilities of a Scrum Master and a project manager are as mentioned below:
|Project Manager||Scrum Master|
|Plays a lead in all phases of the project and is involved in all activities from planning, through execution and till the closing of the project.||Plays the role of a facilitator and ensures smooth progress of the project|
|Plans and creates budget and the related documents||Controls the Scrum processes and facilitates Scrum ceremonies|
|Works with upper management to ensure the scope and direction of the project||Makes a team aware of Agile and Scrum, fostering the right mind-set to deliver successfully and resolves conflict|
|Assigns tasks and priorities||Together with the Product owner and the team, prioritizes and manages sprint backlog to ensure timely delivery|
|Works with management and clients to create schedules for completion of the project||Motivates the team, and deals with any barriers to the delivery of the product|
Scrum adoption has increased exponentially with 65% of IT enterprises globally now endorsing the Scrum framework. This growing adoption of Scrum indicates the need for and the importance of a Scrum Master’s role.
A career as a Scrum Master can help you to build motivated, high performing teams that work together smoothly to achieve business goals.
As a Scrum Master, you’ll have a career that is future proof. Visit this link to find out more!