Scrum is one of the most popular agile project management frameworks today. It has three roles: the product owner, the development team and the scrum master. The scrum master is responsible for ensuring the proper environment for the development team, clearing impediments, and ensuring the project team (scrum team + stakeholders) understands the rules and values of scrum and also exemplifies agile values and principles of the agile manifesto.
A scrum master is different than a project manager. Teams using traditional project approaches report to or work for a project manager. A scrum master, on the other hand, is a servant-leader and supports the team so that it is fully functional and productive. The following scrum master roles illustrate why a dedicated scrum master is so valuable for agile projects.
- Ensures everyone on the scrum team has all the environment, tools and information they need to deliver value to the customer
- Like an aeronautical engineer, removes organizational drag on the scrum team and proactively avoids impediments and roadblocks, so the development team can stay focused and productive
- Shields the development team from external interferences and organizational noise
- Facilitates self-organization and coordination within the scrum team
- Fosters close cooperation between different team members and external departments, stakeholders, customers, etc
- Process coach for each member of the project team (including product owner, developers and stakeholders), ensuring the scrum team understands and effectively applies scrum and agile principles
A scrum master should be an expert in agile processes and effective at coaching others. The scrum master must also be able to collaborate effectively with the stakeholders on the project team that interface with the scrum team.
Scrum masters must have strong coordination and communication skills, with enough organizational clout to secure conditions for the scrum team’s success. Scrum masters are great communicators and great listeners, and can help transform conflicting opinions into superior solutions.