Updated: Feb 13, 2020
You probably would have noticed lately that several companies in diverse industries are looking out for "Scrum Masters. We've all heard of project managers and gazillion variants of the project manager title but the "scrum master" role is quickly gaining traction and is poised to grow in the years to come.
You'll find below a quick google trend comparison between the project manager and the scrum master title. Although project managers are still a dominant breed, "scrum masters" are closing in rapidly.
Even from a salary standpoint scrum masters are paid more than a traditional project manager. See the glassdoor comparison in average salaries below.
Why are Scrum Masters important?
Scrum Masters were born in the Agile frameworks, specifically scrum. It's the nature of the scrum framework which demands a role like the scrum master. The Scrum framework was created with the intent to address the demands of the 21st century where companies are expected to fulfill consumer expectations quickly and in order to do that companies have adopted an incremental and iterative development approach with cross-functional teams.
In addition, the birth of the internet, rapid technological advancements and the changes in web design and development have fueled massive demand for the Scrum framework.
Hence, as more scrum teams are created in companies, you need more scrum masters.
So, Who is the Scrum Master and What does he/she really do?
Scrum Masters are different from traditional project managers in the way that they do not use the command and control style of management. They adopt a more facilitator/servant leader style of management where they don't really impose any kind of authority over the development team. The development team is a cross-functional and self-organized team and the scrum master is the facilitator of this team enabling the team to reach their goals.
Scrum Masters are like sports team coaches who ensure that the team is always winning the game, or in software development, creating valuable software.
What are the Key Responsibilities of a Scrum Master?
Broadly, your responsibilities as Scrum Master might look something like this list below:
1. Know scrum really well (you're a process coach and people will look at you for answers related to scrum). Hence, you'll have to constantly invest in learning new techniques, games, practices in scrum, agile and general management and be able to teach your scrum team.
2. Be a good facilitator, which is one of your main responsibilities. You've got to help the the team arrive at solutions rather than give out the solution yourself. Scrum Master
classes demonstrate this really well. Observe how the instructors facilitate the activities in the class.
3. Organize scrum ceremonies such as the sprint planning meeting, daily scrum, sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives.
4. You're an impediment remover, which means anything that obstructs the team daily work should be removed and it's your responsibility to keep the team on course.
5. You're a team protector, you shield the team from any kind of outside interference. For example, say a manager tries to give one of your team members additional work not related to the sprint. You're supposed to not let this happen because team members have to focus on reaching their sprint goals in the limited time frame they have.
6. Introduce new and advanced agile practices, both technical and non-technical which could speed up the team's ability to deliver working software faster. Some examples are continuous testing, continuous delivery, refactoring, pair programming and many more.
7. Assist the Product Owner to create, maintain, organize and groom the product backlog so that the product backlog items are always ready to be pulled into a sprint and worked on.
8. Enable the organization to adopt scrum. This will include a range of activities from training teams, staff, other departments in scrum to including it as part of the project management office to set up centers of excellence where scrum related knowledge repositories can be created, maintained and utilized for projects.
9. Leading atleast one or multiple scrum teams in becoming more adept at using scrum, passing on the knowledge, developing future scrum masters.
10. Make scrum enjoyable for people. I'd emphasize this because many projects trying to use scrum have failed because people either did not understand it, did not know how to use it or did not enjoy working using scrum at all. So, for people to adopt scrum they have to first enjoy it and you have to enable this change in the organization in a positive way.
So, there it is, the main responsibilities of a Scrum Master but there's much more to this role beyond this article.
To learn more about how CareerSprints can help you kickstart your scrum career, consider registering for our Free 4 hour Scrum Webinar conducted by scrum experts, which covers the scrum basics. Unlike pre-recorded webinars, this one is a live class where you have the opportunity to ask questions to the instructor.
Following the webinar, you'll be able to register for the Foundational Certification in Agile Scrum (FCAS) exam and gain this certification.