Scrum master roles and responsibilities

Where there's the Agile framework, there's also a scrum master or agile coach. They're usually found in software companies, but that doesn't mean the system can't be applied to manufacturing or marketing teams. The role of a scrum master may be crucial to increasing the efficiency of an entire company and its processes.

scrum master roles and responsibilities in agency

A Scrum Master's skills

If you haven’t had contact with the software industry, you probably never heard of Scrum Masters. This video will give you an insight into this unusual profession.

A scrum master's typical day

The majority of a scrum master's week is eaten up by meetings and talking to people, so we have to describe the purpose of each typical meeting.

Daily stand-up

This is the most important part of the day, and it doesn't take more than 15 minutes. The idea behind these meetings is not to control what every team member does but to talk about the progress they've made each day and the obstacles they're facing. It's the best opportunity to talk about joint ventures and cut misunderstandings at the root.

Scrum masters may follow more than one team within a company, so they'll attend multiple daily meetings every morning.

Planning

Sprints usually last two weeks, and the planning meeting is designed to determine what should be the sprint's outcome. The team estimates each task, and no more than what fits in those two weeks makes the sprint's list.

Refinement

Software companies aren't the only ones with a backlog. Marketing teams usually have a pool of ideas that wait for their five minutes. Backlog tasks are often very vague and ill-defined. (Product) refinement meetings are the best spot for clarifying those tasks, assigning and prioritizing them, and determining what needs to be done to complete them. Refinements are held once per sprint, and they're very useful because they help prepare for the next planning meeting. When assignments are well-defined and prioritized, it's easier to include them in the sprint, and plannings tend to be shorter.

Review

Wrapping up a sprint means presenting what's been accomplished throughout its duration. Anyone can attend reviews if they're interested, but the most likely guests are the product owner, managers, and other teams whose tasks depend on the demonstrated accomplishments. Depending on the company policy, clients could be invited to these meetings as well. These gatherings aren't just one-sided dumps of information. The participants are welcome to give their feedback and ideas, which might end up in the backlog list to be refined later.

Retrospective

Just as the name says, retrospectives are meetings held at the end of each sprint, and their purpose is to look back and answer questions like:

  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What could we do differently next time?
Retrospectives are internal meetings attended by the team and the scrum master who moderates topics, discussions, and possible conflicts. It's normal for team members to clash over assignments, especially when one's delay or mistakes affect another. Scrum masters are there to help resolve any misunderstandings and promote a healthy work environment.

Checking the burndown and burn-up chart

The burndown chart is updated daily, and it shows the remaining work. This chart will take up to 10-15 minutes of a scrum master's day, or none if the developers update it themselves. It's a great way to visualize how the sprint is progressing. The release burn-up chart, on the other hand, is updated at the end of each sprint, and it shows how close the team is to achieving the scope and how much the scope has changed.

Removing impediments

A scrum master's main responsibility is to make sure processes flow undisturbed. This means making sure no team member is blocked when trying to complete their assignments. Sometimes, impediments take the form of missing pieces of technology, and sometimes it's a pending approval that halts further progress. Whatever it is, the team relies on the scrum master to remove these obstacles and let them move on with their work. Daily meetings are ideal for speaking about potential or existing barriers. Thanks to their frequency, no obstacle should be present long enough to create a massive problem and troublesome delays.

Correspondence and communication

Regular meetings aren't the only occasion for scrum masters to exchange opinions and updates. They spend most of their days communicating with teams, managers, clients, and other project stakeholders.

Average salary

If you're looking into a career as a scrum master or simply checking whether you're underpaid or not, we bring you fresh info on average salaries in the US per year. We've included all scrum-related jobs for a more precise analysis.

PayScale Glassdoor
ScrumMaster $89,665 $94,819
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) $93,619 $100,368
Scrum Coach $119,308 $97,443
Agile Coach $124,736 -

Becoming a scrum master: get started

You may have noticed we included the "Certified Scrum Master" title in the "Average salary" section and that it's a slightly more paid position than "just" a scrum master.
That's because there are paid courses that you can attend and get certified for the role of a scrum master or agile coach. We'll list some of the most popular courses worldwide.

Project Management Institute - The prices start at $400, and you can choose between several certifications, depending on your experience level. The basic Disciplined Agile Scrum Master doesn't require any previous knowledge or experience, and it's available for all those new to Agile.

Scrum Alliance - You can pick a course from dozens of teachers at the starting price of $450. They're divided into three levels, and you don't need any previous certification or experience for the intro courses.

Scrum.org - You don't need to attend hours of classes to get certified. Scrum.org offers $150 (per try) assessments that will grant you a certification. This is the least expensive and most basic level of scrum knowledge as there are three levels of assessments for scrum masters.

Scaled Agile - You can learn remotely, take the exam, and become SAFe certified. Check the calendar for available courses and their price.

Scrum Inc. - A variety of courses are available, but those dedicated to scrum start at $1995. All you need is a computer and a stable internet connection to learn and get certified.

It would be best if you also focused on developing the following set of skills:

  • Communication. There's no room for shyness when dealing with frustrated team members and impatient clients.
  • Organization. If you can't keep track of upcoming due dates and pull workload strings, the team won't know what they need to work on.
  • Motivation. Every now and then, a team's morale flickers. It's the scrum master's job to remind them of their goals and give them a boost to reach the finish line.
  • Flexibility. Just like life itself, projects can take unexpected turns. A scrum master adapts the team's efforts to everchanging milestones.
  • Problem-solving. Obstacles and unpredicted circumstances are normal, so scrum masters should learn to solve them and even use them to their advantage.

scrum master first job

Your first job as a scrum master

Once you become a certified scrum master, you can apply for jobs, but you'll most likely need some experience as well. Relevant experience could also include working on projects or in a company that applies the Agile framework, meaning you're already familiar with how it works in real life.

Entry-level jobs are usually available, but you can also check if you could switch careers in the company where you're already employed. Perhaps the management would be willing to finance your certification and let you start implementing Agile principles..

Here's another piece of advice: join scrum and Agile communities, forums, and conferences to meet people and let them know you're on the lookout for a job. If you leave a good impression, you might be the first person they call when they hear about an available position.

A scrum master's career path

A scrum master's career path

Anyone can change direction at any point in their career, get a certification, and become a scrum master. It helps if they have experience in the software industry, collaborating with people, and working on projects.

The transition to the role of a project manager is normal and easy, as they both make sure the team is performing well and meeting a project's scope and deadlines.

As explained before, there are several levels of certifications, and scrum masters and agile coaches can upgrade their knowledge in time. For example, they can become certified scrum trainers.

Tools

trello

Trello

Zoom-Apps

Zoom

teams

Teams

miro

Miro

Plus-plan---A---Organize-&-Manage

ActiveCollab

jira

Jira

evernote-(1)

Confluence

evernote-(2)

Teams

versiopnone

VersionOne

google-meet

Google Meet

evernote-(3)

Slack

easyrerto

EasyRetro

zohosprints

Zoho Spirnts

ntask

nTask

targetprocess

Targetprocess


Now that we've gone through all the scrum master's responsibilities, it's clear that they need tools for holding meetings, overviewing assignments and their progress, creating burn-up and burndown charts, and communicating with teams, product owners, and managers.

Each scrum master will either adapt to the tools a company is already using or introduce the software they prefer. In that case, a period of onboarding team members and letting them adjust to the new tools is necessary.

Hiring a scrum master

You may be tempted to send someone from your ranks to attend an Agile course, get certified as a scrum master, and then continue doing their job (for example, as a developer) while applying scrum on their team. This idea might be very bad because the process of accepting scrum will take much longer. Also, keep in mind that it could be challenging for an existing employee to interrupt their co-workers in an attempt to make a meeting more efficient. Having an employee learn scrum and introduce it to the company may be planting seeds of resentment and inefficiency, leading your company to failure.

Hiring a professional scrum master is far easier for all parties involved. Your teams won't have such a hard time accepting a new system when there's a dedicated person who explains the rules, applies them, and maintains the new culture. This arrangement leaves no space for disrespect or rank confusion as it more likely would if an existing employee got "promoted".

When hiring a scrum/agile professional, don't focus only on their credentials and experience. Make sure you value their personal traits as well. You need someone who will get along with your team, but not too much. Scrum masters and Agile coaches are there to install a new system and change the current behavior of the entire company. Someone who becomes everyone's buddy or isn't authoritative enough will have a more challenging time doing that.

scrummaster career path
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