Have you ever wondered how companies effectively manage difficult projects? Does the word scrum ring a bell in your work environment? Today we will talk to you about Scrum Masters, a profile that has recently been booming and has been in great demand in work teams. Many managers and leaders of large companies consider that having this person on the team is ideal for carrying out large projects. Since it facilitates the success of the team and the rapid development of projects. Let’s see what this role consists of.
What is a Scrum Master?
First, you may wonder what is Scrum. Scrum methodology is a type of agile methodology that was born in the 2000s and serves to improve the workflow of a team. This framework helps us to adapt to the constant changes that any project can bring by iterating processes. The main values of this type of methodology are:
- Giving priority to individuals and their interaction over processes and tools.
- It is important the software that works over exhaustive documentation.
- Collaboration with the customer over contractual negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
Much of the success of these types of methodologies is due to great organization and collaborative, multi-disciplinary teamwork. And, to achieve this it is important to have someone who can coach or lead the team to achieve the best results, this is the main function of the Scrum Master.
What does a Scrum Master do? Main functions
The role of the Scrum Master is to facilitate and support the work team to achieve the objectives of a project within a time limit, using the Scrum methodology.
The objective of this profile is to know how to organize the team effectively, to keep in mind the team’s progress, and to plan the work ahead. In this sense, the functions of the Scrum Master may vary depending on the project in which he/she is involved.
In general terms, a Scrum Master has the following main functions:
- Help the team to reach a consensus on what can be achieved during a specific period of time, called a sprint.
- Put the team in dialogue to reach a consensus during the daily scrum.
- Keeping the team focused and following the agreed rules for the daily scrums.
- Removing obstacles that impede the team’s progress.
- Protecting the team from external distractions.
- Ensuring that the elements of the product portfolio are clearly defined and efficiently managed.
The role can be as simple as scheduling Scrum meetings or it can be much more involved in the project. Below, we show you the responsibilities that Scrum Masters have as a rule. All of them, are defined from a Scrum methodology based on the following principles:
- Flexibility in adopting changes and new requirements during a complex project.
- The human factor.
- Collaboration and interaction with the customer.
- Iterative development as a way to ensure good results.
The 5 essential Scrum events that a Scrum Master must follow.
In Scrum, the sprint is each of the cycles or iterations that we are going to have within a Scrum project. Thus, Sprint planning is a meeting in which two important things are defined: what tasks are going to be addressed and what will be the objective of the sprint.
Ideally, achievable goals are set in this meeting. These are small sessions that will depend on the time frame of the project. For example, if it is a 2-week project, the Sprint Planning session should not exceed 4 hours.
The team must solve the following questions:
- What: Define the goal of the Sprint and what elements of the backlog contribute to that goal. The backlog is all the accumulated tasks that are incomplete but are not simple tasks. These should be tasks with a special value, ordered according to their importance.
- How: Define together with the team the work to be done to achieve this objective.
- Who: Define who is in charge or is the owner of the product backlog.
- The expected results: The most important outcome of the sprint planning meeting is that the team can describe the sprint goal and how they will start working towards that goal.
The outcome of this meeting is the Sprint Goal and a Sprint Backlog (which we will review later).
The Daily Meeting is a short daily meeting, 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Usually at the same time and place.
Ideally, these are held in the morning, in order to set the context for the rest of the work day. The objective of these meetings is to talk about specific problems that arise on a daily basis and these will be dealt with externally daily by the Scrum Master.
During this session each team member answers the following 3 questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are there any obstacles in your way?
The objective of these meetings is to contextualize the team on what they are doing and what is still to be done. This engages each person in their tasks and helps the team realize the importance of their commitments.
Therefore, any impediments that are raised in this meeting should be resolved as soon as possible; and this is the responsibility of the ScrumMaster.
The Sprint Review or Sprint Follow-up is one of the most important meetings within the Scrum methodology. They should be held at the end of each sprint and their objective is to review the completed work and determine if additional changes are needed. It is important to remember that ideally these meetings should be organized and defined from the beginning of the project.
Ideally, these meetings should be attended by the customer in order to validate the changes made and give feedback on new tasks that the Product Owner will have to add to the Product Backlog.
The Sprint Retrospective or Sprint retrospective is a meeting that is held at the end of each Sprint, where the things that went well in the previous sprint cycle in terms of people, relationships, processes and tools are analyzed. Likewise, in this session the same analysis of the things that need to be improved for the next Sprint is done.
Thus, the most important thing in this session is to realize the things that need to be improved, taking into account everything that affects the way the Scrum Team develops the product is open to discussion and improvement, including processes, tools, etc. So that this can be improved before a new sprint starts and get off on the right foot.
Groming meetings are sessions dedicated to refining details of the requirements. They are meetings that can be held on demand or on a scheduled basis very few times per week. The idea of these meetings is to have prepared everything that will be seen in the following Sprints.
Scrum Master vs Product owner
Many may confuse these roles because of the close relationship they have at work, but the reality is that they are very different roles that have completely different purposes. On the one hand, the main role of a Scrum Master is to make sure that the team follows agile development and is in constant contact with the Product Owner.
On the other hand, the Product Owner is in charge of managing the product backlog, which, as we have already seen, are all the tasks related to a project. The relationship between these two roles must always be very close since the Product Owner must keep the Scrum Master informed of everything related to the product to ensure that the customer’s needs are met since he is also in charge of being in contact with customers and stakeholders.
Regarding the 5 essential elements of Scrum, the Product Owner is the one who solves doubts about the product and concentrates on this. While the Scrum Master has a greater responsibility because he is the one who supervises the whole process. Ideally, in a work team, these two profiles should be two different people to avoid conflicts of interest.
Scrum Master vs Project Manager
The roles of Project Manager and Scrum Master are closely related because their objectives may be similar as they both lead work teams.
However, each has different responsibilities and their objectives in the project are different. While a Scrum Master can be seen as someone more supportive and motivating in a work team, the Project Manager can be seen as a traditional leader with ultimate responsibility for a project.
In reality, the Project Manager is usually in a superior position to the Scrum Master because the Scrum Master works with smaller teams, while the Project Manager is responsible for a larger team and has greater resources. He may even be in charge of ensuring that all the needs of the end customer are met, not just those of a particular part of the project, which would be more the responsibility of the Scrum Master.
Scrum Masters play a vital role in organizations, especially in those where projects with a high degree of uncertainty predominate. As we have seen, it is a profile that has a great responsibility and plays a very important role within a work team.
If you are interested in becoming a Certified Scrum Master, we recommend the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) from Scrum Alliance, a certification created by Ken Schwaber, one of the precursors of Scrum. And the second one is Professional Scrum Master (PSM) from Scrum.org, very recognized worldwide.
On the other hand, if you want to find a vacancy for a position related to these positions, we recommend you to be aware of the positions that OpenSistemas publishes daily on its official website, and check them continuously to be aware of these new vacancies available!
If you want to facilitate the success of a team, do not hesitate to include this profile in your company. What are you waiting for?