The Scrum Master
The Scrum Master plays a very important role on the Scrum team. Part leader, part facilitator, part coach, even described sometimes as part “sheepdog,” the Scrum Master plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of the Scrum team. The Scrum Master’s responsibilities are defined as:
- Enforce the Scrum process
- Ensure full team involvement in all meetings
- Radiate information to the larger organization
- Shield the team from external interference
- Keep the process moving
- Track and resolve team impediments
- Enforce the Scrum process - the Scrum Master helps the Scrum process work successfully by ensuring that the meetings (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective) are run properly, effectively and on schedule. The Scrum Master can also help the Scrum team by ensuring that the Product Backlog is always “ready” before Sprint Planning (“ready” in this case means that the items on the backlog are prioritized, sized, and properly estimated).
- Ensure full team involvement in all meetings - Scrum teams are made up of teams of different kinds of people with different types of personalities and different levels of experience. By making sure that everyone is involved in all discussions and decisions, the Scrum Master helps maintain consensus in team decisions and ensures that all opinions are heard during the course of the Sprint.
- Radiate information to the larger organization - many organizations, even those that employ Scrum teams, require regular status updates from their development teams. The Scrum Master can help developers remain more focused on their tasks by handling the communication of the team’s status to the rest of the organization.
- Shield the team from external interference - the typical Scrum team is subjected to many kinds of interference generated by the rest of the organization -- from emails, to excess noise, to interruptions from other employees needing help from one or more members of the Scrum team. The role of the Scrum Master is to act as a “gate-keeper” to many kinds of interruptions in an attempt to deal with them before getting other members of the Scrum team involved.
- Keep the process moving - as complex and unpredictable as software development tends to be, there are a number of ways in which a development methodology may be compromised beyond usefulness or dropped altogether in the name of dealing with one crisis or another. The Scrum Master’s job is to keep the Scrum process alive and well and to ensure that all organizational processes and practices are being properly followed.
- Track and resolve team impediments - in any organization, there will be impediments to progress that include noisy rooms, broken laptop computers, access to experts or other needed resources, and business processes much more concerned with saving money than keeping software development on schedule. The Scrum Master is responsible for tracking and resolving these impediments as quickly as possible for the team. When the Scrum Master cannot resolve an impediment because of lack of understanding or authority, he is expected to get the necessary help to resolve the impediment.
- Understand and exemplify
- The role of the Scrum Master based on the Scrum definition of the role.
- Scrum and Agile principles
- Product Quality / DONEness
- Good team leadership skills (unless provided by someone else on the team)
- Facilitates, Motivates, Sheepdog (circles and supports)
- Support the Product Owner in his efforts and support the Scrum Team in theirs.
- Facilitate all discussions and decisions -- keep a record of team's decisions in order to remind them with regard to what they decided as needed.
- Assertive (enforces the process, keeps everyone focused)
- Aware (knows what is going on around him/her)
- Coaches and supports the Scrum Team
- Innovative problem solver
- Strong multi-tasking skills
- Strong communication skills
- Strong process-orientation - respects and understands Scrum and Agile Development
How to Become a Certified Scrum Master
The Scrum Alliance handles the certification process in terms of 1) defining the requirements, 2) certifying the trainers, and 3) tracking the certifications.
Click here to learn how to become a Certified Scrum Master.
You can also click here to see what CSM courses are being taught by Artisan Software Consulting.