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Scrum Master: What are the Roles and Responsibilities?

Last updated on Aug 16,2019 272 Views
Scrum Master: What are the Roles and Responsibilities?

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When developing products using traditional approaches, there has always been a chain of commands and strict organizational structure. Scrum introduced a role that is totally new: Scrum Master.

Inevitably, with a lot of organizations moving from a traditional waterfall model to Agile-Scrum Framework, there are a lot of individuals getting certified as a Scrum Master.

This article on scrum master roles and responsibilities might help you out.

Listed below are the topics discussed in this blog:

Who is A Scrum Master?

According to the Scrum Guide, a Scrum Master is “a facilitator for the team and the product owner. Rather than manage the team, the scrum master works to assist both the scrum team and the product owner.”

Here’s a simple analogy. You can think of scrum master as a lighthouse of the scrum team. A lighthouse helps sailors navigate easily through areas of danger, harbor entrances and reach the shore sound and safe. Similarly, a scrum master helps the team overcome impediments and guides them to achieve the best result. He ensures that the team understands and lives by values and practices of the scrum. 

Unlike other roles of the scrum team, scrum master role doesn’t seem to be straight forward. So, if not all the above discussed what does a scrum master do then? Let’s explore more about scrum master roles and responsibilities.

Role of a Scrum Master

Scrum Master is responsible to demonstrate various traits to maximize the Scrum Team’s performance and productivity. He or she is responsible for making the team do their best by overcoming plausible obstacles that they might come across. He does this by serving:

Scrum Master Service to the Product Owner

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in multiple ways, including:

  • Helps product owner formulate techniques for effective product backlog management
  • Ensure the product owner knows how to arrange the product backlog to maximize value
  • Facilitates Scrum events as and when requested by the product owner
  • Helps product owner understand and practice agile principles
  • Makes sure that the goals and scope of the project are understood by everyone involved
  • Imparts the understanding of product planning in an empirical environment

Like mentioned earlier, the scrum master servers not just the product owner but development as well. Let’s check out how.

Scrum Master Service to the Development Team

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in multiple ways, including:

  • Clears project obstacles & impediments that could slow down the team’s progress
  • Help the team boost their productivity and performance
  • Coaches the team in self-organization and cross-functionality
  • Facilitates Scrum events as and when requested by the team
  • Helps development team create high-quality products
  • Help team understand scrum values and principles
  • Guide the team when Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood

Apart from serving the product owner and development team, the scrum master also contributes his services to the organization as a whole. But how? Let’s check out.

Scrum Master Service to the Organization

The Scrum Master serves the organization in multiple ways, including:

  • Guide and coach organization in adopting scrum framework
  • Makes changes to increase the productivity of the scrum team
  • Helps stakeholders and employees understand scrum empirical theory
  • Thoroughly plan scrum implementations within the organization
  • Boost up the communication and collaboration amongst the team members.
  • Work with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum 

This sums up the different roles of a scrum master. This way, the scrum master is at the center of the scrum, coordinating all project activities and linking customers and different teams that are part of a project. Now let’s take a look at the core responsibilities of a scrum master.

Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

Listed below are the responsibilities of a Scrum Master:

A Scrum Master Removes Impediments

In Scrum terms, an impediment is anything that keeps the development team from making a decision or moving forward on a task. Obstacles can come in many forms and from many different directions, like:

  • Technical or operational issues
  • Team seniority issues
  • Project blockades that impede the progress of the team

All of these impediments that cannot be solved by the team, comes to the Scrum Master for resolution. The scrum master then prioritizes these impediments based on their impact on the team’s productivity and starts resolving them. At times they even anticipate when such problems will arise and lay the groundwork to solve them early on.

A Scrum Master is Servant Leader of the Team

Servant-leadership mainly focuses on collaboration, trust, empathy and the usage of power ethically. Scrum Master is often called as the servant-leader for the Scrum team. As a servant leader scrum master is responsible for:

Coach - Scrum Master - Edureka

  • Setting up Scrum as a servant process, not a commanding process
  • Guiding the Development team towards self-organization
  • Shielding the team from disturbance and external threats
  • Helping the team make visible, remove and prevent impediments
  • Leading the team through healthy conflict and debate

Scrum Master is someone who asks, “what can I do to help the team achieve their goal” rather than ordering around saying “do this task by the end of the sprint“. So, he is not a master of the team, but a master at encouraging, enabling and energizing people and realize their potential. 

A Scrum Master is Team’s Facilitator

A scrum master facilitates and organizes all the scrum events requested by the product owner and the development team. He is responsible for cultivating the right working environment for the team. This includes everything from a physical workspace, to communication tools, to making sure the team follows scrum values. 

Regarding the scrum team environment, the ScrumMaster’s responsibilities take several forms.

  • Ensures that each person on the development team receives an equal voice
  • Facilitates the team in making important decisions that would increase the productivity of the team as a whole
  • Fosters an environment where everyone feels safe sharing their viewpoints and the value of each contribution are respected

The scrum master never masters the team ordering around rather, he helps them in achieving it by coaching and guiding.

A Scrum Master acts as an Interference Shield

interference shield - Scrum Master - EdurekaScrum master is the protector of the team, he helps the team by protecting it from outside interference. Often, outside influences will try to control a Scrum team’s output and they’ll dictate technical design strategies or create unnecessary constraints. This, of course, negates the whole premise of a self-organized Scrum team. So, the scrum master must protect the development team’s ability to make their own decisions.

A Scrum Master Coaches the Team in Scrum

Last, but definitely not least, a scrum master coaches the team on how scrum works. He makes sure that everyone in the team understands what scrum is and they adhere to the scrum values and practices to achieve the best results. And like any good guide, the scrum master does not solve the problems faced by the team, rather, he helps them solve the problem.

In this way, the scrum master plays a pivotal role in balancing the interests of the other two scrum-roles: the product owner and the development team. Did this spike your interest in becoming a Scrum Master? If yes, you could refer to this article on ‘How to become a Certified Scrum Master?’.

This brings us to the end of this ‘Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities’ article. Hope by now you have understood what scrum master is responsible for, in an organization that has adopted scrum.

Make sure you are well versed with the Scrum terminology before you start using it.

Got a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section of this “Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities” article and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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