A question asked daily on Google, and every time I tell someone new on job title, what is a Scrum master? Those of you who haven’t heard of Scrum framework and you just met someone with the job title Scrum master. You will be left wondering what does this person do?
The scrum master is a name given to the person who is a servant leader and facilitator in a Scrum Team. The new name is to highlight that this role is very different from what we think of a traditional project manager. The term Scrum comes from the game of rugby where the whole team get into a scrum with one aim of getting the ball. In Scrum framework, the entire team is fully invested and working together to meet the overall goal of the team that has been set by management. This goal might be building a software, website, app or anything else. Scrum framework isn’t just used for software development but by many another type of project.
Many people still wrongly assume that Scrum master is a new fancy name for the project manager, but that is not the case. Yes, quite a few of us used to be traditional project managers in our previous lives, but other conventional roles like BA can easily undertake this role. I would tell you from my personal experience that stepping from a structured role of Project manager where you have the tremendous amount of authority to the role of scrum master which has no formal authority is a very challenging path.
The role of Scrum master exists as a servant leader and facilitator within an Agile Scrum team. He is not a project manager, and he is not responsible for the delivery of the project, but he is responsible for:
- removing impediments that team face,
- make sure the team is working at an optimal level,
- make sure best process are in place,
- training and coaching the team,
- protecting the team from external interferences
- coaching and supporting the product owner
- facilitating the Scrum ceremonies
- Promoting continuous improvements
- Coaching team to follow the best practices
All of these things will help team delivery the product much quicker and of good quality.
The difference between Scrum master and traditional project manager:
- the project manager has budget responsibilities, and Scrum Master does not.
- Project manager give the progress report to Senior management, and in Scrum, this is the responsibility of Product owner and not of Scrum master
- Scrum master does not allocate tasks to the team.
- The project manager has formal authority over the project team where Scrum master does not have any official authority over the team. (Scrum master does have authority over the process)
- Project manager prioritise work, and in Scrum, this is the responsibility of Product owner
- Project manager creates project plans and roadmaps. In the scrum, Product owner would create a high-level roadmap, but we don’t have any detailed grant charts.
Authority of Scrum master:
As I mentioned above Scrum master does not have formal authority over the team but has authority over the agile process. This not to say that Scrum master does not have any power. To me, Scrum master need to be someone who has a tremendous amount of power. To understand the difference between power and authority, I will mention the influence of Mahatma Gandhi who had the power over the people of sub-continent to bring the country to stand still but did not have any formal authority over them.
How to become Scrum Master
You can get scrum master certification from any of the Scrum Alliance, or Scrum.org registered trainer. I will highly recommend that you also get an experienced scrum master to mentor you if you wish to exceed. I recommend the following article for a list of useful books to read on your path to becoming an outstanding Scrum master. Article: certified scrum master whats next