The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.

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The ScrumMaster Role

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics

There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the team. The second role I’d like to examine is the ScrumMaster, who, serves as a facilitator for both the Product Owner and the team. He or she has no management authority within the team and may never commit to work on behalf of the team.

In Scrum, the ScrumMaster demands a distinct personality type to succeed. The best ScrumMasters are real team players, who receive as much satisfaction from facilitating others’ success as their own. They must also be comfortable surrendering control to the Product Owner and team. For those two reasons, traditional project managers don’t usually make great ScrumMasters.

So, specifically, what does a ScrumMaster do? The ScrumMaster remove any impediments that obstruct a team’s pursuit of its sprint goals. In other words, the ScrumMaster does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity. When a developer’s computer dies, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to ensure it is back up and running—or get another one. If developers are complaining about the high temperature in the team room, the ScrumMaster must find a way to cool it down. It might be easy to summarize a ScrumMaster’s work in a sentence or two, but scenarios he or she could face are truly infinite.

The second role for the ScrumMaster is to own the success of the teams process.  This might means helping helping the Product Owner maximize productivity or helping the team turn the sprint retrospective meeting into an evolutionary / Kaizen experience. Facilitating  for the team or Product Owner might also include tasks like helping maintain the backlog and release plan or radiating Scrum artifacts to ensure the Product Owner or The Team is informed about progress.

To understand the full scope of the Scrum Master role, see the newly updated ScrumMaster checklist for 2013.

The Scrum Training Series uses the voice of a real life ScrumMaster to re-enact the kinds of scenarios ScrumMasters encounter, such as this Sprint Retrospective Meeting scenario.

Scrum Master facilitates the Sprint Retrospective Meeting

posted by: scrum methodology

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Reader's Comments

  1. Saeed |

    It seems like Scrum Masters are more into “Admin” type role? Is that entirely true? Also is Scrum Master a part tiem role and memeber will take in or would it be a full time?

  2. Biomedical Tech , Dot Net Developer Jobs Norway |

    [...] Read by clicking: http://scrummethodology.com/the-scrummaster-role/ [...]

  3. Sam Cooke |

    How cool to come across an intriguing post for a change. So many posts these days that are a waste of energy looking at.

  4. Tales from the development team: Agile is all! | Materials Talks |

    [...] are fixed while everything below it remains fluid. Each team was self-managing and in my role as ‘scrum master’ it fell to me to remove any obstacles to progress – sometime quite a [...]

  5. Agile Thursday Quiz, Monday Answers: Scrum Of Scrums | Yves Hanoulle |

    [...] Role of the Scrummaster 7 responsibilities of the Scrummaster John Hill wrote about the empowerment of the team by the Scrummaster I am Yves Hanoulle, your virtual Project coach and you can reach me at blog at my training company .net or Twitter. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! Related Posts:Agile Thursday Quiz: Scrum Of ScrumScrum from hellPerfection game of SUG Bordeax (Part III)1/2 day of free coachingThe Storming phase of the (agile) IT world [...]

  6. Soumendu Chakraborti |

    Interested in knowing the role of a scrum master in the service industry?

    Does he have any role to play there?

    Is the role only related to developmenet/ production industries, i.e. in a factory or IT?

    Pardon me for being naive.

  7. The Monthly Review – January – Hello Studio, I Missed You |

    [...] a certified scrum master (I bet you are jealous!) and so I carry this geekiness over into my [...]

  8. David Etheridge |

    Wow – this is a terrible article. Please nobody believe what’s written here. Scrummasters are not valets – they *do not serve* the product owner, by any means. Product Owners must be capable members of the team with their own job to do, primarily around grooming the backlog, answering detailed questions from the team, reviewing and accepting functioning stories, and *ensuring stakeholders get what they want*. If a stakeholder is surprised about what the team built, the Product Owner failed. Scrum Masters need to be very strong about ensuring control and commitment rests with the team, not one person on the team, whether its the architect, Product Owner or anyone else. That said, I also believe every problem belong to the Scrum Master unless they find a more suitable home for it. So I do agree the Scrum Master would address a failed dev box or a overheated room if necessary, but emphasizing that and nothing else in this article is a disservice.

  9. Eljay |

    @Saeed – A Scrum Master is a facilitator. If you consider manager, product owner, and vice president to be an administrative role – then yes it is an admin role. A good Scrum Master can manage three scrum teams; a great Scrum Master can manage one scrum team.

  10. Scrum Master and Project Manager: How do They Compare | | BootStrapTodayBootStrapToday |

    [...] The Scrum Master Role on Scrum Methodology by CollabNet describes wonderfully what a ScrumMaster does: First and foremost, the ScrumMaster remove[s] any impediments that obstruct[s] a team’s pursuit of its sprint goals. In other words, the ScrumMaster does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity. [For example] When a developer’s computer dies, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to get it back up and running—or get another one. If developers are complaining about the high temperature in the team room, the ScrumMaster must find a way to cool it down. It might be easy to summarize a ScrumMaster’s work in a sentence or two, but scenarios he or she could face are truly infinite. [...]

  11. Peter |

    I perceive the following to statements as mutually exclusive – ensuring in-effectiveness

    “He or she (SC) has no management authority …”

    “First and foremost, the ScrumMaster remove[s] any impediments that obstruct[s] a team’s pursuit of its sprint goals. In other words, the ScrumMaster does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity.”

    How effectively can you remove impediments without authority?
    I agree, SC has no authority over team (except “follow scrum principles”). But SC certainly needs the authority/authorization/legitimation to change current conditions in a wide context, which most likely will encur (investment)costs.

    (Experience as PrgM/PM/P2R, CSM, PO, Team Member, user/customer…)

  12. Sean |

    This was an interesting read but I would say one fundamental element is missing; that of what I would call gatekeeper.

    As a Scrum Master you need to also protect your team from requests, items being inserted into sprint backlog as well as other items that could take the time of your team members.

    As the gatekeeper you need to ensure that only valid items reach your team and you address those that are not relevant or interfer with the sprint

  13. Scrum Minor |

    I am new to this scrum technique but have enjoyed reading your thorough and enlightening post. Please keep writing and I’ll keep coming back.

  14. Paul C |

    Really useful intro to ScrumMaster; turns out I was actually a ScrumMaster in a PRINCE2 organisation :) I was rolling out Windows 7, and the way I managed was exactly the process described in Agile XP – so the method is quite intuitive!

    Peter, you don’t need authority – just the ability to influence and convince the business manager who does.

    Sean, aren’t those gatekeeper tasks the responsibility of the Product Owner?

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