The popularity of Agile methodologies, including Scrum, is explained by the fact that they contribute to flexibility, faster market times, higher quality products, and customer satisfaction in general. 

In the Scrum methodology, the roles of a product owner and all team members are surely important, but a Scrum Master is a person who acts at the center of the scrum, coordinates all project activities and professionally links customers and teams. What are the key responsibilities of a Scrum Master and why this role is irreplaceable in Scrum?

What Is a Scrum Master? 

As it was mentioned above, Scrum has 3 roles: the product owner, the team and the Scrum Master.

The scrum master is responsible for managing the process. He/she is not involved in the decision-making, cannot be the Product Owner, and also can never commit working on behalf of the team. 

What does a Scrum Master do?

In fact, any Scrum master is often a coach for the team through the Scrum process. He/she helps the team do the best work it possibly can and perform at their highest level. The path to the role of the Scrum Master can be different, but often this role is filled by a former project manager or a tech leader.

Their job includes facilitating meetings, removing impediments to progress, and working with the PO to make sure the product backlog looks good and is ready for the next sprint. 

Scrum Masters assist the team to maintain their burndown chart, set up retrospectives, sprint reviews, and planning sessions. They also help the PO by walking them through the more technical user stories.

The practice of many companies shows that often Scrum masters become protectors of the team. They make sure the team does not over-commit themselves to what they can perform during a sprint because of the pressure from the Product Owner.

If completely generalize their responsibilities, Scrum Masters deal with:

  • Standups
  • Sprint reviews 
  • Retrospectives
  • Board administration
  • Internal consulting
  • Reporting 
  • Eliminating external and internal roadblocks
  • Busy work sometimes can also be their responsibility (fixing broken computers or office stuff purchase).

Top skills and qualities of the best Scrum Master

Knowledgeable 

As a Scrum Master is responsible for preventing potential problems, it requires absolute knowledge on the product. His/her experience allows the team to avoid any challenges or roadblocks. The required knowledge base should consist of various work formats based on previous experience, other Agile methodologies such as Kanban or XP, their strengths and weaknesses and how they can be used together with Scrum.

Collaborative 

A Scrum Master is a connecting link between the product owner and teams, so his/her ability to collaborate effectively leads to fascinating great products that meet the customers’ goals.

Influential 

Scrum masters often lead different project groups to achieve specific project milestones and deliverables. That's why they should strategically motivate stakeholders and teams at an organizational level. They should balance the gap between conceptualizing and performing project ideas within a team. They are responsible for inspiring team members and maximizing the team’s potential at large.

Observant  

Scrum Masters as facilitators should be good listeners and pay attention to every challenge faced by the project team. 

They should be able to be observant and dive into the team’s daily activities. Strong leadership skills and the ability to inspire are also the qualities of a successful Scrum Master.

What is the pathway to becoming a Scrum Master? 

How to become a Scrum Master? Certification is the most simple course. 

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) offered by the Scrum Alliance teaches candidates how to get Scrum teams to work at their highest levels. Such certification plus a real-world work experience place Scrum Masters to expand their career across many industries.

To sum it up, the Scrum Master has a various set of roles, responsibilities, and attributes.

To be effective, Scrum Masters must improve and apply all these characteristics to ensure high quality and timely project deliveries.

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