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What Is the Scrum Master?


The Scrum Master is a role that was created within the framework of Scrum. Their job is to assist their team in following the rules, practices, and values of Scrum. A Scrum Master can be described as a servant leader that works with a team to essentially help them self-manage projects while keeping them focused on their goals and productivity.

Not to be confused with the project manager, a Scrum Master holds no authority. They are not responsible for project outcomes. Rather, the Scrum Master will:

  • Coach the Scrum team on how best to collaborate with one another and hold each other accountable for the work that is to be done
  • Handle outside distractions that may otherwise deter the team from reaching their goal

What Is the Scrum Master’s Role?

Follow Scrum guidelines

Scrum Masters are expected to follow and implement Scrum guidelines including the following:

  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective
  • Product Backlog Refinement
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Definition of Done

Support team policies

The Scrum Master is responsible for enforcing the team rules or policies. These rules include:

  • Actual Scrum rules
  • Work-In-Process (WIP) limits from Kanban
  • Any other process rules that the team has imposed on themselves

Facilitate meetings

All meetings are facilitated by the Scrum Master. Examples of these meetings are the:

  • Daily Stand-Up
  • Iteration Planning
  • Iteration Review
  • Iteration Retrospective

Eliminate impediments

The Scrum Master is responsible for eliminating impediments that may arise in order to keep the team focused on their objectives. Often, these obstacles cannot be solved by the team. The issue may involve another team or need intervention from an executive.

Scrum Masters resolve problems so the team can stay focused on their goals.

Continuous improvement

The role of the Scrum Master is an important one, especially when it comes to continuous improvement. The Scrum Master:

  • Ensures that the teams take responsibility for their actions
  • Holds team retrospectives
  • Implements learnings from each sprint

Team retrospectives are one of the Scrum Master's most important jobs. These retrospectives help them spot trends and see recurring problems. By making these issues visible, they can correct problems immediately for the next sprint.

Serve the product owner

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways:

  • Help manage the Product Backlog
  • Facilitate Scrum events
  • Work with the Product Owner to ensure the volume and flow of the backlog is correct and ready for the sprint

Serve the development team

Scrum Masters help create high-value products by coaching the Development Team in areas like self-organization and cross-functionality.

Serve the organization

It is important to have buy-in from all levels of the organization when it comes to a successful Scrum adoption. The Scrum Master has the task of helping employees, executives and stakeholders understand the value of Scrum and how through the adoption of the practice, the organization gains speed and effectiveness.

Leadership

While Scrum Masters aren’t the ones held accountable for the performance of the team or the delivery of a project, they are expected to be leaders. Having a firm grip on what it means to be a Lean-Agile leader will help them and their team immensely.

Lean and Agile leaders are typical managers; they are teachers and coaches, and by approaching their jobs in this way, they have the power to transform entire organizations.

Why Is the Scrum Master Important?

The role of a Scrum Master is to promote the principles of the Scrum framework. With many businesses working within this framework, having a Scrum Master can be essential to the overall success of projects.

Scrum Masters help create a team that is self-managing. Each member is expected to fulfill their role and is held accountable to this role, allowing teams to maximize their productivity and outcomes. When an issue does arise, the Scrum Master assists the team in their interactions and collaborations to reach consensus.

Furthermore, Scrum Masters act as a blockade for outside distractions that could potentially interfere with the progress and effectiveness of the team’s work. This allows the team members to stay focused on their individual tasks while the Scrum Master addresses the issues.

The Scrum Master is of great importance in any company that follows the Scrum framework, as they can use their knowledge and experience to empower their teams to reach their sprint goals without any outside interference or distractions.