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All You Need To Know About The Roles Of A Scrum Master

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Last updated on
11th Mar, 2021
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10th Dec, 2018
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All You Need To Know About The Roles Of A Scrum Master

1. Introduction

Having worked on Agile projects for a while, I was surprised to find out that “Scrum” came from the process word scrummage, a word used in rugby sports. In rugby, scrummage refers to restarting the game where the players are coming close to each other with their heads down and gaining a possession of the ball. The players work together in a unified manner relying on their strengths in order to overcome and break across their opponents, taking incremental steps collectively as a team.

Roles Of A Scrum Master
Traditional waterfall approach as a software development methodology is successfully practiced over many years as a structured and proven method. It emphasizes a lot on proper documentation and proper process control. In Traditional waterfall methodology, the entire stage is completed before moving sequentially to the next stage. The method, however, is rigid to changes during the software development cycle.
Agile Methodology
Agile software development methodology, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, it looks into ensuring flexibility and incorporating regularly users inputs as a way to build better user products.
Agile software development methodology
Scrum software development methodology is a subset of the Agile methodology. “Scrum” methodology was the brainchild of 2 Japanese Hiro Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Who wanted to create “a flexible and holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal.”

 2. Who is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is a facilitator of the Agile development team. He is not the project manager nor the product owner. A Scrum Master is not a position but a role.
However, having said that it doesn’t mean this role is less important than the role of a project manager. In fact, a scrum master is a crucial role in the success of an agile project.

3. What does a scrum master do?

Scrum Master is “A Servant Leader”.  The roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master include:

  • Making sure the team follows the agile processes.

  • Shielding the team.

  • Facilitating Scrum Ceremonies.

  • Championing information radiators.

Working with stakeholders to get tools and training for the team.

4.  What Qualities does a Scrum Master have?

A Scrum Master does not need a particular type of qualification to assume the responsibilities.  

However, he or she should possess particular qualities necessary for the role.

Traits of a good Scrum Master are-

Traits of a good Scrum Master

a) Influential - able to convince others, have empathy and respect for people and showing by example
b) Collaborative - seek to collaborate with others in the organization and not for self-glory
c) Observant - alertness to identify issues and problem areas
d) Knowledgeable - not only on agile processes but has some technical and project management knowledge

5. Roles and Responsibilities of the Scrum Master

Some organization practices rotation of Scrum Master roles among the team members, this is up to each Scrum Team.

However, the roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master are common:

  • SM is the Agile framework custodian and process owner for the team.
  • SM is a facilitator and Servant Leader who never discourage but encourages and expects self-organization from the Agile development team. 
  • SM builds close collaboration across roles and functions in the organization, works on matters collectively and is not individualistic.
  • SM protects the team from distractions which includes both external and internal.
  • SM removes impediments, so the team can focus on the development work and tasks.
  • SM is not typically a manager or lead, but he/she is an influential leader who does not do direct command and control.
  • SM is a coach, give the bits of advice to the team and discussed issues encountered.
  • SM is an adviser and is equipped with technical and project management know-how, this is so that he/she understands the problems and be able to provide a proper guidance and advice to the team.

6. Scrum master skills

Scrum master skills
These are the essential skills a Scrum Master should have:

Encourage a self-organising team
Remove barriers and Shield the team
Encourage Collaboration and Resolve Conflicts
Coach and Advises the team
Establish partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder)
Facilitate and is a Servant Leader

a) Encourage a self-organizing team - The scrum master needs to know when to hold his views and keep quiet to allow the team to be self-organizing. That said he should be actively listening attentively to the team members inputs and learning points and guide the team to perform better in subsequent sprints.

b) Remove barriers and shield the team -
The scrum master should shield the development team from outside distractions. At the same time, the job of the scrum master is to remove any project barriers and impediments including resolving resource issues. Allowing the team to focus on their development works and tasks.
 
c) Encourage Collaboration and Resolve Conflicts - The scrum master should have respect for people. He should encourage collaboration among team members and also across teams. He should be a collaborator who is able to resolve conflicts within and across teams by focusing on the scrum values of openness, respect, and honesty.

d) Coach and Advises the team - The scrum master should read widely and coaches the team on agile processes. Other than being a teacher to the team to explain scrum processes clearly and enforcing the practice for agile. The scrum master should have technical and project management knowledge. Imagine if the scrum master is not able to understand when a team member raise a project issue how will he provide guidance on the right course of actions? then be able to coach and guide the team effectively and run constructive meetings.

e) Established partnerships (team, product owner, stakeholder) - The role of the product owner is to push the team to deliver fast, while the role of the scrum master is to protect the team. However, the scrum master needs to know when to strike a balance and to build partnerships with others.

f) Facilitate and be a Servant Leader - The scrum master facilitates the daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo, and retrospective meetings. He has no particular authority over the team members and is not their manager. However, the scrum master should put the needs of the team members before himself and serve as a Servant Leader.

7. What are the benefits of having a Scrum Master Certification?

Why should you be interested in becoming a Certified Scrum Master?

According to scrumalliance.org based on a survey with about 5000 people in February 2015, 87% agrees that Scrum improves the quality of work life for their team. At the same time, 81% of Scrum Masters who received certification agree that it has significantly helped to improve their practice.

Check our CSM certification training schedules in Top cities of India

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Place
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Certified Scrum Master

8.  Scrum master learning path (how to become a scrum master)

How to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®)?

Learning path of Certified Scrum Master
Step 1: Attend a 2-day Certified Scrum Master course or seminar

Step 2: In 30 to 90 days, register online for the Scrum Master Accredited Certification Program

Step 3: Upon successful registration, you will receive your Exam Access Code instantly online

Step 4: Take the online test anywhere, anytime on the multiple-choice questions

Step 5: Get your lifetime and international valid Scrum Master Accredited Certification Document instantly online

In a meanwhile, you can take a glimpse of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) training at KnowledgeHut.

9.  Scrum Master training and certification

Requirements for CSM® (from scrumalliance.org)

The first step toward your CSM® is to familiarize yourself with the Scrum framework.
Then, attend an in-person, two-day  (16 hour) CSM® course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®) where you’ll get a comprehensive overview of how to organize and support a Scrum Team. After the course, you’ll need to pass the CSM® exam. After you pass the CSM® exam and accept the License Agreement, complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile and enjoy the benefits of certification.

The Certified Scrum Master Exam is conducted online. The exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions and to pass the certified scrum master exam, you need to get at least 24  correct answers. You can take up the exam only after the completion of two days of training. The test takes about an hour to get completed.

Scrum Alliance allows a candidate to make two attempts on the exam. This is available at no cost. However, subsequent attempts after the second time will be chargeable.

For people who are Certified Scrum Masters, the next step in the Agile journey will attain the Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM®℠) certification.

In order to prepare for the Certified Scrum Master exam (CSM exam), you can refer this Scrum tutorial. This is a complete guide that will help you in preparing for the Scrum Master examination.

Requirements for A-CSM®  (from scrumalliance.org)

Attend a certified educational offering to get techniques and skills that go beyond the basics and mechanics of Scrum, expanding into interaction, facilitation, coaching, and team dynamics.
Successfully complete all educator-designed components of an approved educational offering. This may include pre- or post-course work as deemed necessary by your approved educator to complete the learning objectives.
Validate at least one year of work experience specific to the role of ScrumMaster (within the past five years).
Hold an active Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®) certification with the Scrum Alliance.


NOTE:  You may take the A-CSM® course at any time after completing your CSM® certification, but must have at least 12 months of Scrum Master experience logged into your Scrum Alliance profile before you can receive your A-CSM® certification.

You can opt for the Scrum Mock tests which will help you in raising your confidence level of passing the CSM exam with an excellent scope. Click here for CSM practice test online.

10. Benefits of a Scrum Master Certification

There are many reasons why people take the Scrum Master Certifications and here are just some of them:
Expand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodology

  • Expand career options across industry sectors using Scrum and Agile methodology

  • Demonstrate the attainment of Scrum knowledge

  • Meet like-minded Scrum professionals and networking 

  • Continuous learning

If you are ready to encourage your team and advance your  Scrum career, then it is an ideal opportunity to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM®). Get enroll for the CSM® certification course today and start preparing for the success.

Begin your Scrum Master journey today!

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lorraine ong

Blog Author

Lorraine Ong is a skilled Strategist, Program and Product Manager, with 18 years of IT Management experience. She holds multiple certifications including PMP, Blackblot Product Management Professional, ScrumMaster, Scrum Product Owner, ITIL, CITPM, and J2EE Enterprise Architect. She has experience in policy writing and successfully lead teams in various large scale projects, products and programs implementations in MNCs and organisations.