What Does a Scrum Master Do?

The Scrum framework treats the scrum master role as a person with scrum master certification and hence an important coach of Scrum values. While without actual authority, the person in this role has to lead by example and influence the team using the servant-leader example. So powerful is the effect of the Scrum Master role that the role is also known and called as Team Coach, Agile Manager or Coach and iterative Coach or Manager.

Role of a Scrum Master
The team member responsible for implementing Agile principles, values, practices, and processes that the team follows and lives by, is denoted as the Scrum Master.

The Scrum Master is responsible for

  • Protecting team members from external distractions and interruptions.
  • Removal of team obstacles.
  • Ensuring team-dynamics and effectiveness.
  • Establishing excellent relationships between the product owner and team both inter and intra team.

Benefits of having a Scrum Master
The Scrum Master is an ace in the use of Scrum and Agile values having excellent command over team dynamics and able to provide a self-organized team who can use the Agile and Scrum practices to resolve their situations and achieve ongoing team communication and collaboration.

The team’s Scrum Master also has the onus of addressing any obstacles, distractions, disruptions etc. to ensure the team members can concentrate on output and production without any hindrances.

Also, present-day teams comprise of team members who are all experts in their own fields. There needs to be a binding agent and cushion for the team to achieve transparent communication leading to effective collaboration. That role is for the Scrum Master to effectively fulfill.

Common Scrum leadership issues 
With the benefits come to the drawbacks. Ineffective role appreciation of the Scrum Master can lead to hindrances that may include:

  • The assumption that project managers without an agile business analysis course can be effective Scrum Masters.  Most often the failure is in the leadership being a control with commands style very different from the servant-master role envisaged in Scrum practices.
  • Donning the role of Scrum Master without prior experience in prior Agile environs.
  • Expectations of performance and workloads from the Scrum Master with all teams. This fails the premise that teams new to Agile practices and principles perform just as well as the experienced teams. An experienced team needs far less Scrum Master inputs when compared to new teams who have to achieve an effective level of communication and collaboration in Agile roles, practices, and principles.

Scrum Master role-apportioning
There Scrum Framework does not define by skills the levels of mastery in Scrum practices. However, practically the following levels can be adapted based on experience levels.

  • Rotational scrum master: Team members accept scrum master administrative responsibilities on a rotational basis in a lap-by-lap style.
  • Partial scrum master: Where one team member also accepts the scrum master roles along with other team responsibilities.
  • Dedicated full-time scrum master: Teams learning Agile prefer to have one team member designated with the scrum master responsibility for a specified time.
  • Dedicated full-time scrum master with multiple teams: Is a realistic model of a single full-time Scrum Master working with different teams.
  • Agile Coach: This role envisages interventions on a need-basis and works across teams without any restrictions to an assigned team only.

The Scrum Master is vital to the teams effective functioning. Through effective team management and implementation of Scrum values efficiency, productivity and desired outcomes are achievable.

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