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What Does a Scrum Master Do?

The three roles of Scrum include the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the developers. Each of these roles is significant and one cannot do without the other. While the Product Owner and the developers have tangible proof of their productivity, it is the Scrum Master who quietly works behind the scenes to ensure that the project goes on smoothly and without any glitches.In this blog, we attempt to look at this important yet often overlooked role of the Scrum Master and understand: what does a Scrum Master do?Scrum Master—who is that?The Scrum Master is an indispensable role, especially when it comes to managing Agile projects and in guiding organizations that are on the path to Agile adoption. A Scrum Master is not just an agile coach but also a motivator, facilitator, problem-solver, thinker and mentor. Their primary responsibility is to serve the team along with the product owner and stakeholders.What 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  Primarily, the Scrum Master has to ensure that the project is being implemented in the right way using Scrum and that the team is able to reach sprint goals. In short, they aim to improve the effectiveness of the Scrum team. And how do they ensure that? They do this by making sure that the team is following the right Scrum practices and there are no hindrances to their work. If there are, then the Scrum Master works immediately to remove the obstacles and create an atmosphere that is free of distractions for the team.The Scrum Master Role The Scrum Master is among the three roles or accountabilities, as defined by the Scrum Guide. A person in the Scrum Master role is expected to be an expert in Scrum values, practices and the Scrum framework. While the role does not have any actual authority like a project manager, it is needed to help create teams that are self-organized and are able to influence the team members.Scrum Master Responsibilities.  The Scrum Master has responsibilities, not just towards the developers but also towards the Product Owner and the organization as a whole. Let us look at the responsibilities of the Scrum Master   towards the other roles in the team.Responsibilities towards the developers:In order to help the developers, the Scrum Master ensures that they can perform in an environment that is free of impediments or roadblocks. Scrum Masters aim to create high performing teams by coaching teams and helping them become self-managed and cross functional. The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the 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. Responsibilities towards the Product Owner:The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner in ordering and maintaining the product backlog, an important activity in the Scrum sprint. The Scrum Master also helps the Product Owner in managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration. Another area where the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner is in with setting up empirical processes. Scrum Masters use their past experiences to plan projects.  The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the PO: 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. Responsibilities towards the organization:The Scrum Master’s major responsibility towards the organization is in promoting and helping in Scrum adoption through training and coaching. The Scrum Master spreads the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization and helps customers and stakeholders understand Scrum. The Scrum Master also leads implementations and scaling of Scrum at the organizational level.  The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the 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. How is the Scrum master different from a project manager?There is often a lot of confusion between a Scrum Master’s role and that of the Project Manager. But what most organizations and HR personnel who try to fill these two positions do not understand is that the Scrum Master  is more of a leadership role while a Project Manager is a management position. Let’s look at some of the differences in these two roles:Scrum MasterProject ManagerResponsibilitiesSolves team conflicts with good communication skillsMotivates the teamRemoves impediments that may stop team from workingOrganizes daily ScrumEnsures project completion on time and within budget Helps team work together and without distractions Involved in risk management, change management, quality control, documentation and vendor management Management approachBottom-up, decentralized approach to software developmentTraditional command and control, top-down approachInteraction with Organizational Management  Seeks management approval to scale and implement ScrumWorks with upper management to ensure a scope and direction of a projectRole in projectWorks with Scrum team to make sure project is on track and effective  Is the authority and a sole point of contact for the project  Interaction with teamMotivates team and helps the work effectively   Focuses on product development rather than people and processes   Interaction with stakeholderThe Product Owner and not the Scrum Master is the main point of contact for the stakeholdersHas to frequently interact with stakeholders and customersTeam SizeWorks best in small teamsCan handle large teamsSalaryScrum Masters can earn a salary   of up to $118,353 a year  Project Managers can earn salaries  up to $111,000 on an average   The path to becoming a Scrum Master  According to Indeed.com, Scrum Master certifications, especially the gold standard Certified ScrumMaster®, were the 9th most-requested certification this year. CSM was the only agile certification to make the Top 20. CSM® even beat out the PMP, which as the only other certification in the product and project management space to make the Top 20, came in at number 13—Scrum Alliance.While there is no compensation for experience and knowledge and skills gained on the job, a certification is a great way to start your Scrum learning journey and get a foothold in this competitive Scrum industry. Certifications given by world renowned accreditation bodies like Scrum Alliance, Scaled Agile Inc., Scrum Inc. etc are highly recognized world over and help certification holders to effectively apply Scrum and drive value.CertificationLearning ObjectivesTraining durationCertifying bodyCertified ScrumMaster® (CSM®)  Getting familiar with Agile & Scrum The three roles in Scrum Scrum ceremonies and artifacts Sprint execution Daily Scrum and Retrospectives Agile estimation 2-day training from a Certified Scrum Trainer.    Scrum Alliance®   Professional Scrum Master™ I (PSM I)  Understanding and Applying Scrum Developing People and Teams Managing Products with Agility Developing and Delivering Products Professionally Evolving the Agile Organization2-day training from a Professional Training Network (PTN) member of Scrum.org   Scrum.org™Scrum Master by Scrum Inc.™  Learn about the Scrum Framework and the origins of Scrum Define and understand the Scrum roles Learn about Events and Artifacts Understand Lean principles and creating a high- performance team Understand the Agile Manifesto and about Scrum@Scale 16-hour training from an ATP of Scrum Inc.   Scrum Inc.Certified SAFe® Scrum Master  Get introduced to Scrum in SAFe Understand the role of a Scrum Master Program Increment Planning Facilitate Iteration execution Finishing the Program Increment Coaching Agile teams2-day course conducted by SAFe Program Consultant (SPC)   Scaled Agile, Inc   Once you gain these entry-level certificates, you can further increase your skills and career opportunities by going for more advanced certificates like Advanced CSM from Scrum Alliance. Conclusion The best way to ensure a successful Agile project or a successful Agile implementation is to get on board a Scrum Master. World over, organizations are going Agile and Scrum Masters are more in demand than ever. If you wish to capitalise on this demand then gaining one of the popular accredited credentials is a great way to go about it.  
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What Does a Scrum Master Do?

Susan May
Blog
21st Sep, 2021
What Does a Scrum Master Do?

The three roles of Scrum include the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the developers. Each of these roles is significant and one cannot do without the other. While the Product Owner and the developers have tangible proof of their productivity, it is the Scrum Master who quietly works behind the scenes to ensure that the project goes on smoothly and without any glitches.



In this blog, we attempt to look at this important yet often overlooked role of the Scrum Master and understand: what does a Scrum Master do?

Scrum Master—who is that?

The Scrum Master is an indispensable role, especially when it comes to managing Agile projects and in guiding organizations that are on the path to Agile adoption. A Scrum Master is not just an agile coach but also a motivator, facilitator, problem-solver, thinker and mentor. Their primary responsibility is to serve the team along with the product owner and stakeholders.


What 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  



Primarily, the Scrum Master has to ensure that the project is being implemented in the right way using Scrum and that the team is able to reach sprint goals. In short, they aim to improve the effectiveness of the Scrum team. And how do they ensure that? They do this by making sure that the team is following the right Scrum practices and there are no hindrances to their work. If there are, then the Scrum Master works immediately to remove the obstacles and create an atmosphere that is free of distractions for the team.

The Scrum Master Role 

The Scrum Master is among the three roles or accountabilities, as defined by the Scrum Guide. A person in the Scrum Master role is expected to be an expert in Scrum values, practices and the Scrum framework. While the role does not have any actual authority like a project manager, it is needed to help create teams that are self-organized and are able to influence the team members.

Scrum Master Responsibilities.  

The Scrum Master has responsibilities, not just towards the developers but also towards the Product Owner and the organization as a whole. Let us look at the responsibilities of the Scrum Master   towards the other roles in the team.

  • Responsibilities towards the developers:

In order to help the developers, the Scrum Master ensures that they can perform in an environment that is free of impediments or roadblocks. Scrum Masters aim to create high performing teams by coaching teams and helping them become self-managed and cross functional. 

The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the team: 

  1. Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality; 
  2. Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done; 
  3. Causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress; and, 
  4. Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox. 
  • Responsibilities towards the Product Owner:

The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner in ordering and maintaining the product backlog, an important activity in the Scrum sprint. The Scrum Master also helps the Product Owner in managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration. Another area where the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner is in with setting up empirical processes. Scrum Masters use their past experiences to plan projects.  

The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the PO: 

  1. Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management; 
  2. Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items; 
  3. Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and, 
  4. Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed. 
  • Responsibilities towards the organization:

The Scrum Master’s major responsibility towards the organization is in promoting and helping in Scrum adoption through training and coaching. The Scrum Master spreads the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization and helps customers and stakeholders understand Scrum. The Scrum Master also leads implementations and scaling of Scrum at the organizational level.  

The Scrum Guide lists the following ways in which the Scrum Master serves the organization: 

  1. Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption; 
  2. Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization; 
  3. Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work; and, 
  4. Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams. 

How is the Scrum master different from a project manager?



There is often a lot of confusion between a Scrum Master’s role and that of the Project Manager. But what most organizations and HR personnel who try to fill these two positions do not understand is that the Scrum Master  is more of a leadership role while a Project Manager is a management position. Let’s look at some of the differences in these two roles:


Scrum MasterProject Manager
Responsibilities
  • Solves team conflicts with good communication skills
  • Motivates the team
  • Removes impediments that may stop team from working
  • Organizes daily Scrum
  • Ensures project completion on time and within budget 
  • Helps team work together and without distractions 
  • Involved in risk management, change management, quality control, documentation and vendor management 

Management approach
Bottom-up, decentralized approach to software development
Traditional command and control, top-down approach
Interaction with Organizational Management  Seeks management approval to scale and implement Scrum
Works with upper management to ensure a scope and direction of a project
Role in project
Works with Scrum team to make sure project is on track and effective  Is the authority and a sole point of contact for the project  
Interaction with team
Motivates team and helps the work effectively  
Focuses on product development rather than people and processes  
Interaction with stakeholder
The Product Owner and not the Scrum Master is the main point of contact for the stakeholders
Has to frequently interact with stakeholders and customers
Team Size
Works best in small teams
Can handle large teams
Salary
Scrum Masters can earn a salary   of up to $118,353 a year  Project Managers can earn salaries  up to $111,000 on an average  

The path to becoming a Scrum Master 

According to Indeed.com, Scrum Master certifications, especially the gold standard Certified ScrumMaster®, were the 9th most-requested certification this year. CSM was the only agile certification to make the Top 20. CSM® even beat out the PMP, which as the only other certification in the product and project management space to make the Top 20, came in at number 13—Scrum Alliance.

While there is no compensation for experience and knowledge and skills gained on the job, a certification is a great way to start your Scrum learning journey and get a foothold in this competitive Scrum industry. Certifications given by world renowned accreditation bodies like Scrum Alliance, Scaled Agile Inc., Scrum Inc. etc are highly recognized world over and help certification holders to effectively apply Scrum and drive value.

CertificationLearning ObjectivesTraining durationCertifying body
Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®)  
  • Getting familiar with Agile & Scrum 
  • The three roles in Scrum 
  • Scrum ceremonies and artifacts 
  • Sprint execution 
  • Daily Scrum and Retrospectives 
  • Agile estimation 


2-day training from a Certified Scrum Trainer.   

Scrum Alliance®  
Professional Scrum Master™ I (PSM I)  
  • Understanding and Applying Scrum 
  • Developing People and Teams 
  • Managing Products with Agility 
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally 
  • Evolving the Agile Organization


2-day training from a Professional Training Network (PTN) member of Scrum.org  

Scrum.org™
Scrum Master by Scrum Inc.™  
  • Learn about the Scrum Framework and the origins of Scrum 
  • Define and understand the Scrum roles 
  • Learn about Events and Artifacts 
  • Understand Lean principles and creating a high- performance team 
  • Understand the Agile Manifesto and about Scrum@Scale 


16-hour training from an ATP of Scrum Inc.  

Scrum Inc.
Certified SAFe® Scrum Master  
  • Get introduced to Scrum in SAFe 
  • Understand the role of a Scrum Master 
  • Program Increment Planning 
  • Facilitate Iteration execution 
  • Finishing the Program Increment 
  • Coaching Agile teams


2-day course conducted by SAFe Program Consultant (SPC)  

Scaled Agile, Inc  

Once you gain these entry-level certificates, you can further increase your skills and career opportunities by going for more advanced certificates like Advanced CSM from Scrum Alliance. 

Conclusion 

The best way to ensure a successful Agile project or a successful Agile implementation is to get on board a Scrum Master. World over, organizations are going Agile and Scrum Masters are more in demand than ever. If you wish to capitalise on this demand then gaining one of the popular accredited credentials is a great way to go about it.  

Susan

Susan May

Writer, Developer, Explorer

Susan is a gamer, internet scholar and an entrepreneur, specialising in Big Data, Hadoop, Web Development and many other technologies. She is the author of several articles published on Zeolearn and KnowledgeHut blogs. She has gained a lot of experience by working as a freelancer and is now working as a trainer. As a developer, she has spoken at various international tech conferences around the globe about Big Data.


Website : https://www.zeolearn.com

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