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What is a scrum master?

The scrum framework defines three roles and gives clear accountabilities to each, in order to simplify decision-making and ensure that things get done. The primary accountability of the scrum master is to provide delivery leadership, experience and expertise by managing the scrum process, improving their organisation’s ability to deliver a valuable, relevant product.

Establishing the scrum process

The first task for a scrum master is to establish the scrum process, which would typically involve:

  • Teaching the scrum team about the agile principles and the Scrum framework.
  • Organising the schedule and materials required for sprint planning, the daily scrum, the sprint review and the sprint retrospective.
  • Helping the product owner to establish a product backlog.
  • Helping the development team to agree on their shared quality standards in the form of a definition of done.

Managing the Scrum process

The scrum master is accountable for ensuring that the process is effective and is always improving. Through teaching, coaching, facilitating and mentoring, the scrum master might:

  • Facilitate sprint planning, reviews and retrospectives, keeping them focused and ensuring that everyone can contribute.
  • Ensure that the daily scrum happens and is useful to the development team.
  • Work with the product owner as they develop a release strategy, track progress, manage stakeholders, and prioritise the backlog.
  • Understand the team dynamics and seek to guide them into productive ways of working, promoting whole-team thinking.
  • Lead the team through problems, not by providing the solution but by helping them to identify all of the options before deciding themselves what to do.
  • Work with the wider organisation to help stakeholders interact productively with the scrum team and to establish and environment where scrum can be effective.

Resolving impediments

As a service to the development team, the scrum master will resolve issues, problems or blockers that are outside of their control. This might include a dependency on another team that is delayed, a problem with the working conditions or tools, or anything that affects the team’s ability to work.

Scrum master factsheet

Factsheet scrum master

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