What is the scrum master’s role?
The Scrum Master is responsible for making sure a Scrum team lives by the values and practices of Scrum. He/she is often considered a coach for the team, helping the team do the best work it possibly can. The SM can also be thought of as a process owner for the team, creating a balance with the project's key stakeholder, who is referred to as the product owner. The Scrum Master does everything possible to help the team perform at their highest level. This involves removing any impediments to progress, facilitating meetings, and doing things like working with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is in good shape and ready for the next sprint. The Scrum Master's role is commonly filled by a former project manager or a technical team leader but can be anyone.
Main role activities carried out by a Scrum Master include:
- He/she is a facilitator and Servant Leader who encourages and demands self-organization from the development team.
- He/she enables close cooperation across all roles and functions, addresses resource issue and disobedience of scrum practices.
- He/she protects the team from external and internal distractions.
- He/she removes impediments so the team can focus on the work at hand and follow scrum practices.
- He/she is not typically a manager or lead, but he is an influential leader and coach who does not do direct command and control.
Responsibilities of the Scrum Master
Facilitation of Scrum events
The Scrum Framework defines several meetings that have to be organized and facilitated by the Scrum Master:
- Daily Scrum Meetings
- Sprint Planning Meetings
- Sprint Review Meetings
- Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Maintain team dynamics
- Coaching team members (e.g. with one-on-one coaching).
- Mediating through conflicts.
- Helping the team to make decisions.
- Fostering the developer team’s self-organization.
- Mediating the general conflict of goals between development team (high technical quality) and product owner (more features).
- Continue learning and being Agile (e.g. visit user groups, attend conferences, read books, write blogs, etc.).
- Helping the team to create information radiators.
- Giving feedback to the team.
- Encouraging the use of Agile Engineering Practices within the development team (e.g. one click releases, continuous delivery, feature flags, etc.).
Help in product related activities
- Helping to write or split user stories.
- Helping to write or adapt product visions.
- Helping to order product backlog items.
- Helping with the release planning.
- Being familiar with the team’s work (i.e. the product).
Supporting the big picture
- Bringing people together who should talk to each other.
- Keeping in touch with every stakeholder regularly.
- Helping the team to report to management.
- Helping to further the Agile community within the organization.
- Sharing insights throughout the company (micro-blogging, blogging, internal conferences, etc.).
- Being a contact person for everyone in the team and their stakeholders regarding Agile.
- Giving learning opportunities to people in the organization (e.g. talks or workshops) and letting them learn important Agile concepts like e.g. technical debt.
- Helping the team to get rid of impediments.
- Suggesting new metrics for the team as catalysts for change.
- Reflecting Agile and Scrum values to the team.
- Reminding the team of their arrangements (e.g. policies).
- Helping the team to continuously improve their process.
- Reflecting issues to the team through observation from outside of the team.
- Asking open questions.
- Checking the artifacts used by the team (e.g. Sprint backlog, metrics, etc.).
- Helping the team to keep focus (e.g. by acting as a buffer between external distractions and the team).
- Helping the team to maintain their Scrum tools (Story board, Action board, charts, backlogs, etc.).
- Helping team and product owner to find a suitable:
- Definition of Done “DoD”.
- Definition of Ready.
Scrum Master Skills
A Scrum Master is usually the team leader or the project manager. A scrum master should ideally have a good balance of the following skills:
- Technical expertise
- Understands the Product Owner's Vision
- A good team player and Mentor
- Understands the teams capabilities
- Motivating and coaching the team
- Problem solver
6 Qualities of Scrum master
A SM’s role is an important one in Scrum. He/she is ensures that the team follows Scrum in a proper manner and is responsible for facilitating the work process so the team can deliver successful product increments.
One of the best ways of gaining respect of people is to be humble and remain true to work. The SM should play a servant-leader role and talk humbly with people and make genuine efforts to understand their problems and resolve them.
SM should be helpful and willing to share ideas and thoughts. He/she should ideally play a servant-leader role and communicate positively with the team members to understand their problems and issues, and do his/her level best to remove the impediments faced by the team.
Being a SM is not easy – it is generally a full time job and requires a lot of efforts. A SM should remain committed to the team in terms of being available when ever he/she is needed, able to understand the team members and help them effectively deal with their problems as and when they arise.
The SM bridges the gap between the Scrum team and the management. At times he/she might be required to negotiate for better working conditions or quick resolutions to problems with the management. The SM should be influential and able to convince the management so issues can be resolved quickly.
The SM also functions as a mentor and coach for the team. He/she should be conversant with the latest trends and updates in Scrum and share them with the team. The SM should be knowledgeable in Scrum topics.