Agile Scrum Master Role and Responsibilities
‘Scrum Master’ role is again (along with Product Owner) arguably the most critical role in agile product development. Scrum master owns the process definition, process execution, ‘A passionate Team on mission’ aspects to bring product backlog into real product that is bringing real value to clients, users and business. And the organizations that succeed at implementing the Scrum Master role effectively, reap the benefit from the team passion to ‘Build it Right… Right first time’ culture in self-organized teams. Certainly the role brings the real competitive advantage for the organizations at product/project/program execution level.
This blog post shares out collective insights from our product development group’s brainstorming. I hope this is going to help you explore the role successfully.
Scrum Master as a Process Owner
- Responsible for establishing SCRUM practices and rules, ensures the process is followed
- Facilitating scrum ceremonies i.e. daily, planning, retrospection, demo, sizing/pre-planning.
- Keep the focus on meeting objectives (daily, planning, retro etc.) and time box it
- Establishing a true agile culture and mindset rather than following the ceremonies.
- Empowering team to refine its practices as needed and keeps on improving.
- Ensure that team don’t miss on good product development practices
- Definition of DONE is defined and followed
- Ensure that all artifacts are in place
- Educating organization/management on Scrum / Agile
- Participating in Scrum of Scrum
- Making activities/facts/things transparent so that effective / timely actions are taken.
Scrum Master as Impediment Solver
- Ensure that impediments raised in time
- Resolve impediments or ensure that impediments get resolved.
- Escalation of impediments to appropriate levels to ensure obstacle is addressed/solved.
Scrum Master as Protector for Scrum Effectiveness
- Protecting the team from outside influence
- Protecting team from themselves… ensuring team members are doing what is needed for sprint commitment
- Keep distractions away from team (services or support calls)
- Monitoring project commitments to ensure we deliver on time
Scrum Master as Stakeholder Manager/ Collaborator / Coach
- Collaborating with other teams where/when necessary
- Get the conversation going…. connecting with people as necessary
- Enable cross functional collaboration
- With Team
- Work with team, empower them to evolve into a self-organizing team
- Connects with Product Owner or other stakeholders, client events to ensure team understand the big picture
- Ensuring that each member has what is needed to work effectively (fully functional, productive)
- Ensuring that team works on high priority items and let team know that why that is high priority
- Keep pushing for continuous improvement and avoid complacency.
- With Product Owner
- Working with Product Owner to ensure product backlog is getting groomed (prioritization and user story refinement).
- Ensuring 1-2 sprint backlog is up-to-date and ready for team
- Ensuring a continuous feedback to-from product owner (on backlog, sprint progress, release progress, client feedback)
- With Organization/ Other Stakeholders
- Enables close cooperation across all roles and functions and removes barriers
- Sharing good practices with other teams
- Educating organization/management on Scrum / Agile
- Ensure communication clarity on release progress with Management/Leadership
Scrum Master as Delivery Owner
- Making sure team is on track with sprint commitments
- Tracking sprint progress and come up with corrective plan if not on track
- Scrum Master owns sprint commitments.
- SM should be able to appreciate release/delivery commitment for the product.
- Monitoring project commitments to ensure we deliver on time.
- SM should keep a track of risks (release, team, skill, product backlog, technology etc.) and raise at appropriate levels (Friday meet)
Scrum Master as Decision Maker
- There are so many opportunities for team to get confused/uncertain/lost during daily, during retro, during planning, during sizing). SM need to ensure timely decisions to keep the movement/progress on.
- Decisions enable team’s motivation and focus towards team/project objectives.
- Effective decision maker (good observer for future impediments, taking right decisions in uncertain situations)
Key Challenges as a Scrum Master:
- While we talk about building self-organizing team but even enabling team to be able to identify impediments on time is a challenge for Scrum Master.
- Impediments come at random and one has to be very prompt to identify and resolve.
- Team is directly distracted from outside…other team, stakeholders… without SM knowing about it
- Wrong estimates are a challenge for team & Scrum Master during a sprint or release. Members estimating time and….usually activities takes more time than expected/planned.
- Challenging to manage multiple hat i.e. Scrum Master along with QA role or DEV role or other initiatives (if shared role).
- Scrum Master role/responsibility takes lot of efforts and it is a full time job to meet/deliver on all expectations. Missing clarity on how Scrum Master Role is aligned with career growth/plan with in organization as well as in industry is a challenge.
- Overlapping responsibilities with Product Owner around release ownership
- I have borrowed the clip-art picture from http://www.romanpichler.com
- I found the content very useful at http://www.romanpichler.com/blog/every-great-product-owner-needs-great-scrummaster/