Top 7 Responsibilities of a ScrumMaster
By Laszlo Szalvay
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There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the team. The ScrumMaster serves as a facilitator for both the Product Owner and the team. It’s an arduous role that demands a distinct personality type to be successful—in large part because the ScrumMaster has no management authority and may never commit to work on behalf of the team. What follows are seven basic considerations that should be at the forefront of any ScrumMaster’s mind.
- Be a team player. 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.
- Remove impediments. First and foremost, the ScrumMaster should do everything in his or her power to remove obstacles that are preventing the team from accomplishing its sprint goals. Basically, anything that distracts or inhibits the team from making progress is considered an impediment, so the challenges a ScrumMaster might work to resolve are truly infinite. When a developer’s computer dies, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to get it back up and running—or replace it. If developers are complaining about the high temperature in the team room, the ScrumMaster must find a way to cool it down.
- Radiate information. One of the ScrumMaster’s primary responsibilities is to radiate information or ensure that a team’s progress and successes are highly visible to all stakeholders, including the team itself. These radiators may take the form of various Scrum artifacts, from backlogs to burndown charts.
- Support the Product Owner. Just as the ScrumMaster removes impediments for the team, he or she also works to assist the Product Owner with various activities. These include communicating updates and impediments as well as assisting with backlog and release plan maintenance.
- Facilitate creativity and empowerment for the development team. The flipside of the ScrumMaster’s mandate to remove impediments for the team is his or her charge to foster an environment where creativity and empowerment can flourish. If a team is to self-organize to meet sprint goals, it will perform up to its potential if its members feel they have the support and confidence of the ScrumMaster and Product Owner behind them.
- Improve the team’s engineering practices and tools as needed. To fully facilitate productivity, the ScrumMaster must make sure teams have the tools and know-how they need to succeed. This might include a Scrum tool to bring distributed teams together for close collaboration or introducing a new engineering practice that can help developers improve processes.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Yes, communication is integral to each of the above points, but it’s so essential that it’s worth mentioning again. Scrum’s success hinges on clear and frequent communication among all stakeholders. The ScrumMaster acts as a hub for all of that communication, ensuring that everyone—the Product Owner, the team, and various other stakeholders—are always up-to-speed.
Laszlo Szalvay, President, Danube Technologies, Inc. Founded in 2000 by Laszlo Szalvay and his brother Victor, Danube provides software and training exclusively focused on the Scrum method of agile software development. The company's ScrumWorks® Pro and ScrumWorks Basic products are licensed to more than 115,000 software professionals worldwide, making it the most widely used software in the industry for managing Scrum projects. Danube complements its software offering with a comprehensive schedule of ScrumCORE" training courses, which are taught globally by Danube's five Certified Scrum Trainers. In all, Danube offers a comprehensive Scrum solution. So when you're ready to succeed with Scrum, call Danube.
Article Submitted On: April 20, 2009