Skip to main content

Scrum, for those of you who are new, is an Agile framework. Scrum started life as a way of developing and delivering complex products to market with efficiency. Scrum is the most popular Agile framework in use around the world today. Scrum.org define it as “an empirical process, where decisions are based on observation, experience and experimentation. Scrum has three pillars: transparency, inspection and adaptation.”. Scrum allows teams to work in smaller ‘sprints’ where a project is broken down, enabling teams to continuously improve and ultimately to deliver higher value.

As a simple framework Scrum has three roles; The Scrum Master, the Product Owner and the Development Team. All these roles work together to get great products out the door.

The Scrum Master is one of the most famous Agile roles, and rightly so. The Scrum Master plays a pivotal role in helping the team with the efficient and effective use of Scrum. As such, we’ve dived deep into the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master below.

What Does A Scrum Master Do?
 

What is a Scrum Master?

Projects can often feel like a whirlwind of tasks, deadlines, and constant changes. Amid this chaos, the Scrum Master emerges as a guiding beacon, helping teams navigate the complexities of project development using Scrum.

Scrum Masters play the challenging role of Trainer, Mentor, Coach and ‘Impediment Remover’ for the Scrum Teams they serve and the organisations they work for. Unlike traditional project managers, they don’t manage the team or make decisions for them. Instead, they create an environment where the team can self-manage and make decisions independently.

The Scrum Guide broadly defines the Scrum Master as the individual responsible for establishing Scrum by helping everyone understand the core principles of Scrum theory and process. This applies to the Scrum team executing the project as well the wider business. In summary, the Scrum Master is responsible for the Scrum team’s effectiveness in delivering the project, improving practices via the Scrum framework.

That might all sound a little confusing, so here’s it broken down in plain English:
 

What is the Scrum Master Accountable For?

The Scrum Master helps their teams and the wider organisation understand Scrum theory and practice. Through a strong understanding of how to apply Scrum in the most challenging projects and programmes as well as what good Scrum implementation looks like, the Scrum Master is accountable for ensuring that Scrum framework is utilised to maximum effect throughout the project.
 

The Scrum Master’s Role in a Scrum Team

The Scrum Master wears many hats in a Scrum team:

1. Servant-Leader: This means they put the continued development of their team first. In fact, their role as servant-leader can be broken down into:

  • Serving the team: The Scrum Master fosters an environment of open communication, collaboration, and empowerment. They help the team to understand Scrum practices, principles, and values by providing guidance and support, enabling the team to perform at their best.
  • Serving the Product Owner: The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by bringing tools and techniques that support the formation of a solid and achievable Product Goals as well as creating effective Product Backlogs.
    The Product Goal is a long-term objective or future state of the product. It is a vital part of the Product Backlog, referred to in the Scrum Guide as a commitment. The Scrum Team uses the Product Goal to plan against and maintain focus, so its important that the crafting and creation of a Product Goal is done well. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner in ensuring that meaningful and sensible Product Goals come to life.
    The Product Backlog is in essence a list of ordered items that need to be developed to create a valuable product. Scrum Masters work with the Product Owner to create great Product Backlog Items and the Development Team can understand and build.
  • Serving the Organisation: Scrum Masters work to lead, guide, train and coach the organisation in what Scrum is and how best to use Scrum well. Scrum Masters are frequently seen working alongside teams and stakeholders to help them understand how Scrum applies to them. When firms are rolling out a Scrum implementation, Scrum Masters are usually coaching, planning and advising side by side with managers and leaders.

2. Facilitator: On a more pragmatic level, the Scrum Master plans and facilitates Scrum events such as daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives, all critical events within the Scrum framework They ensure these meetings are effective, efficient, and focused.

3. Barrier-Buster: The Scrum Master actively identifies and removes any impediments that are hindering the team’s progress. This could involve mediating disputes, resolving resource constraints, or liaising with other departments or stakeholders.

4. Advocate: The Scrum Master promotes and protects the team’s interests with stakeholders. They also educate the wider organisation about Scrum and Agile principles, building a supportive and understanding environment for the team to thrive in.

5. Coach: The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner manage the product backlog effectively. They also assist the Development Team in creating high-value products and meeting their commitments.

6. Process Improvement: They promote continuous improvement within the team, encouraging regular reflection and adjustment of the team’s performance. They help the team to inspect and adapt their practices to improve productivity and product quality.

7. Protecting the Team: The Scrum Master protects the team from external interruptions and distractions, ensuring they can focus on the tasks at hand.

8. Promoting Transparency and Collaboration: They foster an environment of open communication and collaboration, ensuring everyone clearly understands the project goals, progress, and challenges.

9. Liaison with Stakeholders: They maintain active communication with stakeholders, ensuring their needs and expectations are understood, and the team’s progress accurately conveyed.

The Scrum Master is crucial in empowering the team, promoting Agile practices, and ensuring a smooth project development process. Their ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining group that continuously delivers value to the organisation while fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

By doing so, Scrum Masters pave the way for innovation, productivity, and success in Agile development.

Key Takeaway: The Scrum Master is crucial in empowering the team, promoting Agile practices, and ensuring a smooth project development process. A Scrum Master is a facilitator and coach for an Agile team, responsible for ensuring that the team follows the principles of Scrum. Typical daily tasks include: • Facilitating meetings and events • Providing coaching support to team members • Working with stakeholders such as Product Owners or Managers • Communicating between developers and product owners.

Their ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining team that continuously delivers value to the organisation while fostering a culture of continuous improvement. By doing so, Scrum Masters pave the way for innovation, productivity, and success in Agile development.

 

An Example Day for a Scrum Master

Joanna, the Scrum Master

Just after sunrise, Joanna, a seasoned Scrum Master at VirtuTech, a leading software development company, woke up. Her morning routine was simple: a healthy breakfast, a quick exercise session, and reviewing the day’s plan.

She logged into her workstation as soon as her alarm signalled 8:00 AM. The first task was to check her emails and Slack messages that had come in overnight. There were bug reports from QA teams, product owner updates, and general management team updates. After triaging the urgent from the non-urgent, she prepared a summary of all these updates, which she would share in the daily stand-up meeting.

At 9:30 AM, it was time for the Daily Scrum or the stand-up meeting. This was a vital part of her day. As a Scrum Master, she facilitated the discussion with her team of developers, testers, and designers. Everyone briefly discussed what they accomplished the previous day, the tasks for today, and any roadblocks in their way. Joanna diligently listened, made notes, and shared updates from other stakeholders. Her role here was crucial in keeping the team focused and productive, removing obstacles, and ensuring they worked in synergy.

After the stand-up, Joanna spent the next couple of hours talking to team members who reported roadblocks. She scheduled a meeting with the product owner to discuss a feature’s feasibility that a developer was struggling with. She communicated with the infrastructure team to resolve a testing environment issue. Joanna’s ultimate goal was to ensure the team’s efficiency by resolving their problems promptly.

By noon, Joanna was facilitating a backlog refinement session. She worked closely with the product owner and the team to review the product backlog, prioritise items based on their business value, and ensure they were adequately defined and estimated. Ensuring the team had a clear, workable plan for the next sprint was critical.

Post-lunch, Joanna spent time preparing for the upcoming sprint planning. This involved a detailed review of the backlog items for the next sprint, assessing team availability, and considering any potential risks or dependencies.

At 3:00 PM, it was time for a retrospective of the recently concluded sprint. She encouraged the team to reflect on what went well and what didn’t and what could be improved in the next sprint. She fostered an open, blame-free environment to ensure everyone felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Following the retrospective, Joanna documented the points discussed and worked on an action plan to implement improvements.

Joanna’s final task of the day was typically a quick sync-up with the product owner and other stakeholders. She shared the team’s progress, discussed any concerns, and sought their input on important matters. This regular interaction helped her stay aligned with the business’s objectives and allowed her to guide her team better.

By 6:00 PM, Joanna’s day was winding down. She quickly scanned her emails one last time and updated her to-do list for the next day. Being a Scrum Master was indeed a balancing act, she thought to herself. But at the end of each day, the feeling of making a difference, of helping her team achieve their goals and deliver value, made everything worth it.

With the satisfaction of another day well managed, Joanna logged off. After some rest and personal time, she retired to bed, ready to tackle the next day’s challenges with renewed energy!

 

 

Agile Training for Scrum Masters

Continued Agile Training for Scrum Masters is essential to any successful Scrum Master.

In the rapidly evolving world of Agile development, the role of a Scrum Master goes beyond merely facilitating Scrum ceremonies and removing impediments. They’re called upon to be coaches, mentors, and change agents, continually driving their teams towards improved performance, productivity, and value delivery.

A Professional Scrum Master (PSM) is a highly trained and experienced individual who understands the principles and practices of Agile, as well as how to apply them to ensure the successful delivery of projects. As such, it’s important that all Scrum Masters have access to quality training programs so they can stay up-to-date on best practices and be able to lead their teams effectively.

To fulfil the above roles effectively, Scrum Masters must engage in continuous training. Here’s why.

1. Keeping Up with Industry Trends: Agile and Scrum practices aren’t static; they evolve in response to technological shifts, business demands, and software development practices. To stay relevant and practical, Scrum Masters must keep abreast of these changes. Continuous training offers learning about emerging trends, new tools, and innovative practices that can enhance team performance and project outcomes.

2. Sharpening Coaching and Leadership Skills: The Scrum Master is, at heart, a servant leader and a coach. They need to inspire, motivate and guide their team, helping each member achieve their potential. Regular training can enhance a Scrum Master’s communication, leadership, conflict resolution, and coaching skills. This makes them better equipped to foster a productive, collaborative, and empowered team.

3. Facilitating Organizational Change: Scrum Masters are pivotal in driving Agile transformations within organizations. They must promote the adoption of Scrum values and principles at all levels. Continued training can equip them with change management strategies and skills, enabling them to navigate resistance, address misconceptions, and foster an organization-wide Agile mindset.

4. Enhancing Value Delivery: A Scrum Master’s ultimate goal is to ensure their team delivers maximum value. This involves facilitating Scrum events, removing impediments, helping the Product Owner manage the product backlog effectively, promoting engineering practices that enhance product quality, and implementing feedback loops for continual improvement. Regular training can provide Scrum Masters with advanced insights and techniques to improve value delivery.

5. Personal Career Growth: For Scrum Masters themselves, continued training leads to personal growth and career advancement. They become more competitive in the job market with additional certifications and skill sets. They can pursue roles with greater responsibility, such as Agile Coach or Enterprise Agile Coach, or specialize in areas like SAFe, LeSS, or Scrum@Scale.

Continuous training isn’t a luxury for Scrum Masters—it’s a necessity. It equips them to guide their teams more effectively, drive organisational change, and enhance value delivery, all while contributing to their personal career growth. So, whether through certifications, webinars, workshops, or conferences, make continuous learning a priority in your journey as a Scrum Master.

 

Scrum Training for Scrum Masters

Scrum.org, founded by Ken Schwaber (co-creator of Scrum), provides a wealth of training courses for Scrum Masters and other Agile professionals. Here are some of the most relevant ones:

1. Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) Courses: These courses provide a deep understanding of the Scrum framework’s principles and empirical process theory.

2. Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II): This course is designed for experienced Scrum Masters. It delves deeper into the role of a Scrum Master and helps develop new skills to serve the Development Team, Product Owner, and the organisation.

3. Professional Agile Leadership (PAL) Essentials: This course provides a foundation for leaders to help their organisations succeed with Agile and Scrum. It’s an excellent option for Scrum Masters seeking to influence their organisation’s leadership and promote Agile transformation.

4. Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS) with Nexus: This course is suitable for Scrum Masters working with large Scrum projects that require multiple teams. It introduces the Nexus framework and helps deal with the challenges of scaling Scrum.

5. Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK): This course is ideal for Scrum Masters who want to integrate Kanban practices with Scrum. It helps enhance flow within the Scrum Teams without changing Scrum.

6. Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO): While primarily targeted at Product Owners, this course also benefits Scrum Masters. It provides a better understanding of the role of a Product Owner, which can enhance the Scrum Master’s ability to coach and support their Product Owner.

Remember, each course also prepares you for the corresponding Scrum.org certification, validating your knowledge and skills in the Scrum Master role. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned Scrum Master, these courses offer valuable learning opportunities that can help you better serve your team and organisation.

Key Takeaway: Scrum Masters must attend Agile training courses to stay up-to-date on best practices and effectively lead their teams. Popular options include Professional Scrum Master (PSM), Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II), and Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO).

A Scrum Master is essential to any Agile team. They are responsible for ensuring the team follows the Agile methodology and works together to reach their goals. As such, it is critical to have a Professional Scrum Master on board who can provide guidance and support when needed. Through agile training, consulting services, programme delivery and project turnaround with an experienced Scrum Master, organisations can ensure that they can maximise the potential of their teams. Ultimately, this will help them succeed in whatever goal they set out to accomplish – no matter what a Scrum Master does!

Learn with Fractal Systems

Looking to upskill and boost your career prospects in the world of agile methodology? Look no further than Fractal Systems’ Agile Training!

Our team of real-world practitioners are active in the industry, so you can trust that the techniques you learn are tried and tested in real-life situations. Our training isn’t just a lecture-based session filled with boring PowerPoint slides – we know that interactive, discussion-based learning is the best way to ensure you retain what you’ve learned and are ready to apply it in your work.

Our Agile Training is not only informative but also enjoyable and fun! We believe that training shouldn’t be a chore but an opportunity to develop new skills and meet like-minded professionals. Our sessions are designed to be fully interactive, with plenty of opportunities for discussion, group activities, and hands-on exercises.

By completing our Agile Training, you’ll gain valuable insights into the latest agile trends and techniques and be equipped with the skills and knowledge to apply them in your own workplace. Our team is dedicated to ensuring you get the most out of your training experience, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to develop your career and enhance your skills. Sign up for Fractal Systems’ Agile Training today!

Further Agile Scrum Training

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training I (PSMI)

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training II (PSMII)

 Online Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)

 Professional Scrum Product Owner Advanced (PSPO-A)

 Applying Professional Scrum (APS)