What is a Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master is probably one of the most famous Agile roles. And rightly so, because the Scrum Master pays a pivotal role in helping the team with the efficient and effective use of Scrum. Some companies will send their team on scrum master courses to help improve their knowledge of Agile and Scrum methodologies.
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.
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.
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. The Scrum Guide broadly describes what the Scrum Master should do but it can be a little confusing. Here is plain English version of what a Scrum Master is.
What is the Scrum Master Accountable For?
The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as per the Scrum Guide. This means helping their teams and the organisation they work for to understand Scrum theory and practice. They have a strong understanding of how to apply Scrum in the most challenging projects and programmes as well as what good Scrum implementation looks like. Helping people understand and use Scrum well is the most important thing that a Scrum Master must do every day.
Who does the Scrum Master Serve and How?
The Scrum Master is a Servant Leader – this means that they put the continued development of their teams first.
The Scrum Master serves The Product Owner
Part of getting great product out the door is knowing what great looks like. That’s the Product Owners role. But, being a Product Owner isn’t easy, there is a lot to do and a lot to learn.
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.
The Scrum Master is always available to help the Product Owner facilitate great Stakeholder collaboration and contribution.
The Scrum Master serves the Scrum Team
The Scrum Masters role is to establish and embed the effective use of Scrum within their team. Scrum is also all about getting great products out the door. So not only does the Scrum Master coach their teams in how to self-organise and build cross functional skills but they also work hand-in-hand with their teams to remove impediments that stop the team from delivering every Sprint.
Scrum Masters also ensure that the Scrum Team have solid and meaningful Definition of Done. The Definition of Done guides the team in creating high value delivery increments – it helps the team stay aligned to the right standards for development and delivery.
And finally, the Scrum Master ensures that all the Scrum Events take place and happen within the timebox.
The Scrum Master serves the Organisation
Organisations new to Scrum frequently make mistakes in the proper and effective use of Scrum.
So, 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.
It was mentioned that a big part of a Scrum Masters role is to remove impediments. So Scrum Masters work on an organisational level to remove barriers between Scrum Teams and Stakeholders as an example.
So there you have it. The Scum Master is a huge role and requires a lot of different skill to do the job well.
Good luck in your Scrum journey!