A Scrum Master is basically a Scrum Coach and Facilitator. He or she helps the team stay focused on the project’s objectives and eliminates the obstacles that appear along the way. Jose Duarte, a Scrum Master and successful entrepreneur from Costa Rica, discusses the key points to be a top Scrum Master.
In Scrum there are only three basic roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master and the Development Team. While the Product Owner focuses on the vision of the product, manages the return on investment (ROI), and guides the development of the product determining what to build and in which sequence, the Development Team is the one that actually builds the product; and the Scrum Master facilitates communication and problem solving so that the Scrum team can deliver maximum value to the client.
Says Duarte, “A good Scrum Master should do this by making sure that everyone involved understands and correctly applies the methodology, has the resources they need, communicates well, and is protected from distractions and interruptions.” If your role in the Scrum team is that of Scrum Master, we are going to leave you a series of key points so that you can properly carry out your work and be classified by your colleagues as good Scrum Masters.
Focus the team on the goals of the current iteration, keeping them on the right track. Have a short window in which to deliver work software helps keep the team focused, but if that’s not enough, the Scrum Master is there to helping to keep goals visible, keeping the daily meeting focused on goals and eliminating distractions that would otherwise interfere with achieving those goals.
Eliminate the barriers that block the team so that it can offer the highest quality software: a Scrum Master supervises possible detractions, the complexity of unnecessary procedures, delays based on resources, or challenges of work environment or human factors, and helps the team protect themselves from all of them.
The Scrum Master is responsible for working closely with the Product Owner, providing control and balance between doing more and maintaining high quality and efficiency. The Product Owner is legitimately concerned with receiving the most visible value. Explains Duarte, “The Scrum Master makes sure that this is done, but not at the expense of the quality of the software or at the expense of ‘burning’ the team.”
Additionally, the Scrum Master has to keep the team trained in Scrum project management practices by adhering to several different strategies – forming organic, self-organized and agile teams and integrate them into the company, creating a team vision, project vision and product vision that serves as a guide and is shared, implementing simple and adaptable methodological rules to offer business value quickly and reliably, creating an open flow and exchange of information between project team members and external groups, maintaining a light touch by supporting team autonomy, flexibility and a focus on customer value without sacrificing control and following up and monitoring the project to obtain timely and pertinent feedback while instituting systemic learning and adaptation.
The Scrum Master also has to encourage and facilitate collaboration with practices related to the creation and distribution of planning sessions, as well as organizing daily standup meetings. He or she should also hold reviews as part of the sprint review process, and hold a sprint retrospective once the project is complete.
Agile emphasizes people to the process, and that is certainly evident in the team-led approach of a Scrum Master. Additionally, it highlights the delivery of value to the customer over extensive documentation and other artifacts and processes with no added value, and that is reflected in Scrum Master’s emphasis on engineering practices and focus on delivering work-value oriented software. Adds Duarte, “Agile and Scrum promote open communication and active contributions from team members and the Product Owner throughout the project and this is reflected in the ceremonies that the Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating during the project.”
A Scrum Master has many roles, some more than others are usually associated with project management. This makes your job more complex than it can often seem. For this reason, it is a demanding job that requires high dedication, which is why it is increasingly common to see these profiles full time in Agile projects.