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Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities: Everything You Should Know

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27th Sep, 2023
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Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities: Everything You Should Know

In today’s fast-paced business environment, organisations constantly seek ways to enhance their productivity, collaboration, and product quality. This quest has led many to embrace Agile methodologies, and at the heart of Agile lies Scrum, a framework designed to streamline complex projects. The Scrum Master is a linchpin driving the project to completion. 

This blog attempts to demystify the Scrum Master’s multifaceted status, shedding light on how this job improves cooperation, productivity, and overall project success. Read along to learn what is a Scrum and how to become an Agile Scrum Master

What Is Scrum Master? 

Scrum Master plays a crucial role in Agile project management, overseeing the efficient execution of the Scrum methodology. They go beyond the conventional role to facilitate cross-functional teams to operate efficiently while delivering value for stakeholders.

Additionally, via orchestrating retrospectives and leading the team in self-assessment, a Scrum Master fosters a culture of continual improvement. This unwavering pursuit of perfection is key to the Agile mindset.

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What Is the Role of the Scrum Master? 

 If you’re wondering what is a Scrum Master responsible for, the answer is a Scrum Master is responsible for delivering value to stakeholders and guaranteeing Agile project success.

  • Facilitator: Ensures the seamless and effective operation of Scrum events such as daily stand-ups, sprint scheduling, and retrospectives.
  • Coach: Provides team members with advice and mentoring on Scrum concepts, Agile practices, and continuous improvement.
  • Stakeholder Liaison: Liaises between the research and development team and stakeholders, enabling open discussion and overseeing expectations.
  • Problem Solver: Identifies and resolves difficulties that impede the team’s growth, providing a productive and collaborative atmosphere.
  • Metrics Analyst: Tracks and monitors important Agile metrics, including velocity and burndown visualisations for analysing team performance and supporting decision-making.

Scrum Master Skills

Becoming a Scrum Master requires possessing a combination of soft, hard and technical skills: 

1. Soft Skills 

  • Communication should be clear and succinct to encourage teamwork while successfully managing stakeholders.
  • Gaining an understanding of team members’ viewpoints. 
  • Flexibility to adjust to changing conditions and priorities in a fast-paced Agile setting.
  • Ability to mediate team disagreements and maintain a positive atmosphere at work.
  • Paying close attention to team complications and critiques fosters a positive work atmosphere.

2. Hard Skills 

  • Comprehensive knowledge of Scrum concepts, roles, rituals, and artefacts.
  • Proficiency in several Agile approaches, such as Kanban or Lean, to adapt to the changing needs of projects.
  • Familiarity with Agile task management and reporting technologies such as JIRA, Trello, etc.
  • Scrum Master credentials such as Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or Professional Scrum Master (PSM) might be advantageous.

3. Technical Skills 

  • Understanding software development techniques and tools is essential to collaborate with developers.
  • Data analysis and interpretation skills are mandatory for tracking important Agile metrics to make data-driven choices.
  • Familiarity with systems for version control (e.g., Git) assists in cooperation and archiving code.
  • Technical concepts ought to be conveyed effectively among technical and non-technical groups.
  • Commitment to remaining current on industry developments and Agile practices.

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

The Scrum Master roles and responsibilities include encouraging Agile practices, nurturing cooperation, and assuring project success while continually striving for progress. The Scrum Master role is diverse, with several roles critical to fulfilling Agile projects. Here are the top 7 responsibilities of a scrum master:

  • Standups – The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating daily standups (or the daily Scrum).
  • Iteration/sprint planning sessions – Prevent over-commitment and scope creep. Assist with estimating and task division.
  • Sprint evaluations – Attend meetings and provide input.
  • Retrospectives – Record areas for growth and goals for future sprints.
  • Board administration – Entails serving as the Scrum board’s administrator. Check that the cards are current and that the Scrum tool, whether Jira or other software, is functioning properly.
  • 1-on-1s – Meet with team members and stakeholders individually as needed. Resolve disagreements within the team over processes and work styles.

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Scrum Master Qualifications

Becoming an Agile methodology Scrum Master doesn’t require any specific certification. However, candidates with a bachelor’s in IT, business or a related field are preferred by recruiters. Here are a few more qualifications that can help land the job:

Certifications: A Scrum-specific certification, like Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or Professional Scrum Master (PSM), proves a candidate’s technical know-how, thereby attracting recruiters.

Agile Knowledge: A deep understanding of Agile methodologies other than Scrum, such as Kanban or Lean, expands a Scrum Master’s toolset for responding to different team dynamics and scenarios.

Experience: Prior experience working in Agile contexts or as a member of cross-functional teams can make fitting into the role much smoother.

Career Path of a Scrum Master 

It is crucial to note that the roles of a Scrum Master and Product Owner might sound the same, but the career path is not necessarily linear, as individuals can pick multiple paths based on their preferences, abilities, and organisations’ demands. Continuous learning, additional certifications, and being updated on industry trends are all important components in improving one’s standing in the Scrum Master’s responsibilities in Agile

Scrum Master at the Entry Level

  • Begin as a Scrum Master with fundamental expertise and a Scrum certification (e.g., CSM or PSM).
  • Concentrate on learning Scrum ideas and practises while acquiring hands-on experience.

Intermediate Scrum Master

  • Continue to work with Scrum teams while learning more about Agile methodology.
  • Take on larger teams and more difficult tasks.
  • Advanced certifications or extra training in Agile frameworks such as SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) or Scrum@Scale would be beneficial.

Senior Scrum Master

  • Gain experience growing Agile practices for larger organisations with several teams.
  • Assist and mentor junior Scrum Masters and teams.
  • Lead organisational transformation projects and contribute to enterprise-wide Agile adoption.

Agile Trainer or Speaker

  • Become an Agile practices and principles expert, offering training sessions and workshops. 
  • Present at conferences, write articles or publish books to share knowledge and experiences with a broader audience.

Agile Leadership Roles

  • Move into leadership positions, such as Director of Agile Transformation or Head of Agile Delivery, overseeing multiple Agile teams and driving organisational change.

Chief Agile Officer (CAO)

  • A Chief Agile Officer post can exist in some organisations, where an experienced Scrum Master or Agile leader plays a vital role in creating the organisation’s overall Agile strategy.

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What Is Scrum Master Certification and How to Acquire It? 

It is crucial to note that a Scrum Master’s career path is not necessarily linear. Continuous learning, additional certifications, and being updated on industry trends are all important components in improving one’s standing in the Agile and Scrum sectors. 

Step 1: Understand the Scrum Framework

  • Understand the Scrum framework, its principles, and its practices. Read books, articles, or online resources to gain foundational knowledge.

Step 2: Choose a Certification Body

  • Decide which Scrum Master certification you want to pursue. Popular certification bodies include Scrum.org, Scrum Alliance, and others.

Step 3: Enroll in a Scrum Master Course

  • Look for accredited Scrum Master training courses offered by certified trainers. Ensure the course aligns with the certification you’ve chosen.
  • Consider options like in-person classes, virtual training, or self-paced online courses.

Step 4: Attend the Training

  • Participate actively in the training sessions, engaging in discussions, exercises, and practical examples.
  • The training typically covers Scrum principles, roles, events, and artefacts.

Step 5: Complete the Coursework

  • Fulfil any coursework requirements, which include assignments, quizzes, or group activities, depending on the course.

Step 6: Prepare for the Certification Exam

  • Study the recommended reading materials and practice questions provided during the course.
  • Review the Scrum Guide, which serves as the foundation for Scrum knowledge.

Step 7: Schedule the Exam

  • Register for the certification exam through the certification body’s website.
  • Pay the exam fee, which varies depending on the certification body.

Step 8: Take the Exam

  • Sit for the certification exam, which is usually in multiple-choice format.
  • Ensure you understand the exam format and time constraints before starting.

Step 9: Pass the Exam

  • Achieve a passing score on the certification exam. Passing scores may vary, so check the specific requirements for your chosen certification.

Step 10: Receive Certification

  • Once you’ve successfully passed the exam, you’ll receive a digital or physical certificate from the certification body.
  • Some certifications also grant you membership in a professional community or organisation.

Step 11: Maintain and Renew

  • Stay engaged with the Scrum community, attend events, and continue learning.
  • Some certifications require periodic renewal through continuing education or paying renewal fees.

Step 12: Apply Your Knowledge

  • Put your Scrum Master skills into practice by working with Scrum teams and helping them apply Scrum principles effectively.

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Benefits of a Scrum Master Certificate 

The Scrum Master certification certifies your Agile knowledge and abilities and opens up possibilities for your career development. It also helps realise the difference between various roles, for example, the Scrum Master and Project Manager.  CSM certification benefits include:

Enhanced Knowledge: Certification suggests a thorough grasp of Scrum concepts and practises, thus guaranteeing Scrum Masters have an irrefutable foundation to manage Agile teams.

Credibility: It enhances your profile’s credibility, making you a more appealing contender for Scrum Master positions and Agile roles.

Career Advancement: A Scrum Master credential can pave the way for higher-paying employment and leadership positions in Agile teams and organisations. The average salary of a Certified Scrum Master in India is INR 14.8 lakh per annum. 

Increased Employability: When hiring, many organisations actively seek certified Scrum Masters, enhancing employability in a competitive market.

Skill Validation: Accreditation endorses your skills and expertise, informing companies you know how to direct teams and drive Agile projects to success.

Difference Between Scrum Master and Project Manager and Product Owner 

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The table below lists the differences between Product Owner and Scrum Master, and Project Manager roles:

CriteriaScrum Master Project Manager Product Owner 
ResponsibilityFacilitates the team’s adherence to Scrum principles and practices. Plans and executes projects within scope and budget alongside managing the stakeholders. Prioritises and defines product features and works closely with stakeholders to meet customer needs. 
RoleIs a servant leader. Is either an authoritative or a servant leader. Decisive Leader. 
CertificationCSM or Professional Scrum Master (PSM). PMP or PRINCE2. No specific certification is required. 

Limitations of Scrum Master

Here are some of the constraints of the Scrum Master role:

  • Do not often have statutory authority over team members or the organisation. They rely on effect and coaching to motivate change, which may be difficult.
  • Emphasise enabling the Scrum process but could lack domain-specific expertise to add to the job’s essence.
  • Can hold competing positions on the team, such as being a developer. This might make keeping an impartial and unbiased facilitation difficult.

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Conclusion 

The Scrum Master’s effect is significant, from protecting the team from obstructions to boosting cooperation and enforcing Scrum adherence. Their dedication to improving team relationships, problem-solving, and establishing an Agile culture makes them an important addition to project success. The Scrum Master remains at the forefront with an unrelenting commitment to Agile principles, driving teams to excellence in providing value and responding to change.

Profile

Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the top 3 qualities of a good Scrum Master?

The top 3 qualities of a good and SAFe Scrum Master are servant leadership, adaptability and empathy.

2Is Scrum Master a technical role?

No, the Scrum Master position is not entirely technical; rather than technical obligations, it focuses on promoting Agile methodologies, interpersonal relationships, and removing barriers.

3What is the responsibility of the Scrum Master in the daily Scrum?

In the daily Scrum, the Scrum Master's primary responsibility is to facilitate the meeting, ensuring it stays time-boxed and focused and observing team interactions for opportunities to coach and remove impediments.

4What is the Scrum Master certification cost?

Scrum Master certification generally costs between INR 15,000 and INR 30,000, depending on the certification authority, training provider, and course type.

5Which is better, PMP or Scrum Master?

Choosing between PMP and Scrum Master is influenced by your career goals and work field. PMP certification is useful for conventional project management, whilst Scrum Master certification is appropriate for people interested in Agile and cyclic project methodologies.

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