What Is The Role Of A Scrum Master
In a previous article, we gave an introduction to Agile Scrum and explained how it has helped you release products in a ‘Faster Time To Market’ scenario.
In this article, we will give an insight into the roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master, and how he can be successful at his job, and steer his team to goal realisation.
The Scrum Master guides the entire team, and makes sure they follow Scrum rules. In fact, he leads various project groups and achieves milestones and deliverables. These groups include the people who work on the product, test it, analyze it for quality, and the stakeholders who have business interest in the project.
The bridge between the conceptualizing and actual product should be made strong, as eventually, he is responsible for coming out with a deliverable that looks and works exactly as they planned.
The SM creates software the entire day, he is the link between the product owner and the teams, and he also develops the product backlog. The role of an SM various from company to company depending on the context, but in general, he will have to be/do the following:
As explained earlier, the SM acts as the link between different teams and the product owner, so he has to be collaborative enough with both of them.
He understand the needs of his team, makes sure they have sufficient resources to complete the project, motivates and inspires them, thereby encouraging productivity and quality of the end product. He is also responsible for encouraging collaboration among team members and between the organisation and the team.
A good observer would be a good team member and facilitator. So in order to steer his team in the right direction, he must observe the activities of the team, and pitch in with his advice when they face hurdles.
He should also be able to spot discrepancies in the sprint cycles, if they occur.
Key takeaway: The Scrum Master must have Kaizen mindset, wherein he works for the continuous improvement of everyone – including those in the upper management & team members.
Be a good coach
As explained earlier, it is the role of the SM to create onboard project teams, integrate them into the organisation and educate them on the goal and vision of the project.
He acts as a reliable coach for the team, by monitoring their progress and providing timely feedback.
He drives a culture of learning and incorporates agile practices to bring in desired results. He acts as the information exchange link between the project team and other people in the company and shareholders, and makes sure everyone is on the same page.
Removing the Impediments
A number of hurdles may stand in the way of the team when they set out to do a project. SM’s primary role is to understand, recognise and remove the impediments.
He has to prioritise them, and find a feasible solution. He must embrace methods that would bring sustainable productivity among the team.
Engineering Practices that lead to deliverables
The SM teaches his team to run automated builds and continuous integration to improve project efficiency. These builds are much better than the traditional processes because they mitigate the risks and efforts in releasing a product.
He works towards improving product quality by integrating best practices like pair programming within the team, but makes sure the product is released on time. The Scrum Master is responsible towards both the organization he is working for and the product owner.
Towards the organisation
- Facilitate scrum events & ensure all team members participate in it
- Convey the company goals to the project team
- Teach them Agile Scrum values & principles
- Protect the team from interruptions
- Encourage the teams to come out with their problems/conflicts & help resolve them
- Help the product develop a rapport with everyone in the team
- Help the product owner develop a good relationship with the stakeholders
Towards the product owner (PO)
- PO is the key stakeholder in the project
- The SM makes sure that he has a close relation with the PO
- SM must help the PO groom the backlog by keeping in mind the results of the previous sprint cycles
- Both the PO and the SM are responsible for facilitating engaging members so they will bring out the best in each team member
- Impart the point of the view of the developer to him, so he knows what’s happening at their end
There is a difference in role between the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The latter often acts as a liaison between the upper management and the team, especially in huge multinational companies. In smaller companies, the two posts may merge wherein one person assumes the role of the SM and PO.
However, the roles must be different and distinct in an effective agile environment, even though the skills and activities may overlap at times. Both must work collaboratively with each other for effective project development.
Key takeaway: The Scrum Master is a champion who makes sure everyone follows adopts agile practices
The Scrum Master leads the team in the correct direction, so they perform optimally. He removes all the impediments that could mar the speed and success of the project, and ensures that the product backlog is perfect and ready for the next Sprint Cycle.
His duties are similar to that of a product manager, but he has the limitations of the Scrum rules, and that could restrict him at times.
If you look at it, the Scrum Master’s role is not a productive one, but rather a supportive one. He serves within the horizontal and vertical slices of the project management. The daily duties of the SM vary depending on the stage of the project.
On the first and last day of the project, he goes through Sprint planning, Review and Retrospective meetings. On certain days, he attends Daily Scrums, helps the Product Owner with his tasks and on other days, he shields his team members from impediments and hurdles that mar the success of the project.
Picture Source: Flickr.com/ AleNunez/ Medinilla
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at www.Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.