Being a Scrum Master is a professional occupation and originates from a designated role in the Scrum framework. A Scrum Master is responsible for delegating and supervising agile software development activities based on the ideas and methods of Scrum.
Scrum is an agile process that a team can apply to software development and project management.
There are specific roles that need to be assigned and committed to.
A Scrum team is made up of Scrum Master, product owner and development team.
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These participants are working actively on a project together, while external individuals that may be affected or simply interested in the project are not necessarily to be factored in to Scrum specific activities, such as Scrum meetings and time schedules.
It is common for a Scrum team to be working together on one specific project, in large companies team members can be part of several Scrum teams, each team working on a specific project goal or task.
While the teams may be distributed or cross-functional, the Scrum roles are fixed. A product owner is never part of the development team, neither is the Scrum Master.
Although in practice, depending on the available resources and individual approaches, it often occurs that the execution of the Scrum Master role is more flexible than the others.
There are instances of hiring an external Scrum Master, who is working for various projects in several different companies or not assigning the role of the Scrum Master at all and having the Product Manager, who is not officially part of the Scrum team, take over the Scrum Master’s responsibilities.
If the team decides a dedicated Scrum Master is not necessary, development team members may alternate in being in charge of Scrum Master duties.
Dedication to Scrum
The Scrum Master’s key function is to create and secure the right conditions for the team to work successfully with the Scrum framework.
It is important to communicate the applied workflows within the team and inform them on the organizational structure of meetings. The goal is to create a system for the team to work with independently and not having any unnecessary measures inhibiting their performance to thrive.
By sticking to the procedure model of Scrum, the Scrum Master guarantees an agile development process and is responsible for correct execution and its effectiveness.
A great amount of time and effort goes into preparing and moderating Scrum meetings for sprint planning, reviews and retrospectives.
Any issues and suggestions raised in and outside of meetings need to be translated into action to stay on track and possibly create links between causal connections. If any processes to optimize the way the team collaborates are being changed, the Scrum Master must introduce them and possibly document them appropriately.
For all agreements that are being made during meetings, the Scrum Master is responsible to be aware of their proper execution and if necessary step in to offer support and mediation.
In addition to establishing a suitable work structure, a Scrum Master is responsible for examining and comparing the company’s own procedures to other leading competitors. Since the practice of agile product development is based on changeable items and actions, it makes sense that the implementation of management methods and processes are always evolving as well. It is common for a Scrum Master to interact with other Scrum Masters, exchange knowledge and be an active and inquiring participant in the community of agile product development. Someone having many years of experience as a Scrum Master and a strong desire to pass it on is likely to eventually become an Agile coach.
The Agile coach is not tied to the Scrum framework but has extensive knowledge on multiple agile methodologies. They don’t necessarily work closely on a specific project, but help companies to find and implement a compatible agile development approach.
While it becomes apparent that the job of a Scrum Master literally means to master the art of Scrum, there is still more to it.
The development team and product owner should be able to completely rely on the Scrum Master for everything Scrum related and its administration, but are still being coached by the Scrum Master about Scrum.
This part of the job is especially important if a company has newly introduced agile development methods to the developing team or new team members are coming on board.
To sync cross-functional teams and different departments in a company the Scrum Master may also offer coaching and advice.
There is no public education that trains one specifically on becoming a Scrum Master. Ultimately there is no traditional way one must have paved, but there are different opportunities to take and measures to meet that can help you to tackle the path in becoming a Scrum Master.
A Scrum Master in practice is usually a certified Scrum Master (CSM). To become a CSM there are certain steps to take:
Prepare for a CSM course
Participants in a CSM course have been assessed whether they are ready to begin their studies. It is necessary to prepare by acquiring a considerably large understanding of Scrum theories and principles.
Attend the CSM course
The CSM course is taught by an officially certified Scrum Master and requires two full days and in-person presence. Besides addressing the Scrum principles in theory, the course includes a number of real-life case studies, discussion and exercises.
Pass the exam
The exam is an online multiple choice test. A test participant passes by correctly answering 24 out of 35 questions. There is no limit on how many times someone can take the test before passing, but only the first two attempts are at no expense.
By receiving the certificate, the first important step into becoming a Scrum Master in practice has been accomplished.
Like it is with any job, the more experience, the better, therefore it is of advantage to continue educating oneself and gaining experience in the fields of management and software development.