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Scrum Team Roles - Scrum Master

07 Aug 2019

In the previous article, we scratched the surface of Scrum team roles. Now, we are going to explain each individual role in more detail and shed light on their importance. Today, we will talk about the role of the Scrum Master, what they do and why are they important, as well as Scrum Master's relationship with other roles and the Scrum framework itself. With that in mind, let's have a look at the role of Scrum Master.

What exactly is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is an individual responsible for implementing the Agile methodology and Scrum framework with an entire organization and helping everyone adjust to the new concept. They have to be knowledgeable and skilled in Agile practices so that they can help organizations adopt Agile entirely. 

The main reason behind this activity is that many companies are just now becoming early adopters of Agile methodology and practices, even though Agile has been around for some time now. Without a Scrum Master to coach them, companies may alter Agile in their own way and create a system that resembles but isn't the actual Agile. 

Such systems may sometimes work but they oftentimes lead to long-term problems as these systems aren't properly prepared to tackle challenges of modern-day dynamics of the market or adjust fast enough to changes on the market. In order for companies to truly benefit from a Scrum framework or Agile in general, for that matter, they must adopt Agile and Scrum the way it was originally designed. That's what a Scrum Master is for. 

What does a Scrum Master do?

The role of a Scrum Master involves a wide variety of responsibilities towards an organization, product owners and development teams. In other words, it's a servant-leader role for the Scrum team. As an example, here are a few responsibilities a Scrum Master has towards each other role and their organization.

Scrum Master responsibilities towards an organization

  • Leads and coaches an organization on how to adopt both Scrum and Agile, as well as how to adjust properly to new systems.
  • Plans Scrum implementations within the entire organization.
  • Helps stakeholders, as well as employees to endorse and understand Scrum and the empirical way of product development.
  • Encourages changes that will improve the productivity of the entire Scrum team.
  • Works with other Scrum Masters on applying Scrum, especially within large organizations.

Scrum Master responsibilities towards the Product Owner

  • Ensures that everyone on the Scrum team understands the scope, goals and product domain.
  • Finds effective ways to manage the product backlog.
  • Helps the Scrum team understand the necessity for clear and brief product backlog items.
  • Helps the Scrum team understand the empirical environment, as well as product planning.
  • Helps the Product Owner understand how to prioritize backlog items, in order to maximize value.
  • Assists in Scrum events.

Scrum Master responsibilities towards the development team

  • Coaches the development team on how to be self-organized and cross-functional.
  • Helps them create high-value products.
  • Removes any obstacles in their progress.
  • Assists them in Scrum events.
  • Teaches the development team about the Scrum environment.

Simply put, the role of a Scrum Master may be challenging but such challenges are also quite exciting and engaging. Helping an entire organization in adopting both Scrum and Agile practices seems daunting but it's also quite gratifying once you accomplish your goal.

How does one become a Scrum Master?

To become a Scrum Master you need proper certification. But before we get to that, it's recommended that you first obtain proper knowledge and skills. A Scrum Muster needs a good understanding of both Agile methodology and Scrum framework. 

Furthermore, a Scrum Master should possess proper hard and soft skills, especially since they work in a tech environment while collaborating with numerous people. Not to mention that they must encourage others to collaborate between themselves as well. Once you gain proper knowledge of Agile and Scrum respectively, you can get certified. 

As far as certification goes, you can choose a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) option or a Professional Scrum Master (PSM) option or if you want to, you can take both. Each of the certification options has three levels based on experience and knowledge. 

As an example, CSM provided by the Scrum Alliance has CSM as the first level, Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) and Certified Scrum Profession (CSP-SM) as the final step. On the other hand, the PSM provided by has PSM I, II and III as levels of certification. Regardless of your choice, you will have to attend a proper course before you can take an exam for your certification. 

It's safe to say that the role of a Scrum Master is the most essential one within the Scrum framework and the Scrum team as well. Without them, there's no one to guide others. Although the role on its own is challenging and oftentimes demanding even, no one can deny the fact that Scrum Master's job is nothing short of exciting.