What Is a Scrum Master?

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What Is a Scrum Master?

Jeff Allen looks at what Scrum Masters are and why they are important.

· Agile Zone ·
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The globalized business landscape means that most companies are on-demand, all the time. The product development process needs to be highly customer-centric to achieve success, and companies have evolved different methods to address this need.

The most popular way for companies to accomplish their goals is through the adoption of the Agile Scrum process. Over 80 percent of organizations use the Scrum framework, but there are vast differences in the way it is implemented across various organizations.

There are three key aspects of Scrum. Product backlog, sprint, and scrum team. These three together define the scope, time, and resource aspects of product development. But these three categories are not standalone definitions. Their interactions form the crux of the Scrum framework and lead to successful product development.

This means that the Scrum Master, the person in charge of coordinating all the members of a scrum team, is of utmost importance to an organization which is using the Scrum framework as the base of their business processes.

One person must lead the pack.

One person must lead the pack.
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What Is a Scrum Master?

A scrum master is first and foremost a servant leader. He or she leads the implementation of the process across development cycles.

What Is Scrum?

The term ‘Scrum’ is derived from the rugby term for the re-huddle of the team in the middle of the game, to restart a move in play. This extends to project management — a company often has to realign its strategy according to market feedback through quick, meaningful iterations.

Thus, the role of a Scrum master is primarily to ensure these iterations are carried out in line with an end objective.

A Scrum Master also has to consider all the tools available in the complex but coherent Scrum framework and deploy them correctly.

Why Are Scrum Masters so Sought-After?

It’s clear that Scrum is useful, and that Scrum Masters are the best people to implement the method, but why are Scrum Masters so sought-after?

The answer is simple — the objective of Scrum (in line with the agile approach) is the reduction of waste, effort, time, and scope. Therefore, a controller or facilitator becomes the go-to person who can observe and control this waste, while keeping the overall efficiency of a company running high.

This is reflected in the fact that all Scrum professionals are paid 23 % more on average than their peers in the industry.

Given that a Scrum Master looks at the overall health of a company, should we then say that a Scrum Master is also a Product Manager or Owner?

NO is the resounding answer to this question.

There is a lot of confusion across the industry about the distinctions between the two roles. In a mature and well-managed Scrum framework, the two roles are held by different people.

The Scrum Master is not responsible for the overall time or scope of a project. He or she is only concerned with aligning iterations in strict adherence to best practices.

Daily Scrum

The Scrum process is built around the daily Scrum, a fifteen-minute team huddle where three questions are asked by each member:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • What are my impediments?

These questions are designed to remove impediments in the way of teams, and to ensure that product development is guided on the scope of work that is to be done. It is taken directly from the customer brief and product backlog that is universally available across cycles. The interpretation of these requirements is the main task of a qualified Scrum Master, who should be able to guarantee minimal wastage in terms of time, scope, and cost.

Further Reading

Is the Business World Really Serious About Upskilling?

The Single Most Important Thing in Agile

Originally posted July 2016

agile, agile adoption, agile approach, agile best practices, scrum (development), scrum management, scrum master

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