The ScrumMaster Role

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the team. The second role I’d like to examine is the ScrumMaster, who, serves as a facilitator for both the Product Owner and the team. He or she has no management authority and may never commit to work on behalf of the team.

In Scrum, the ScrumMaster is an arduous role and demands a distinct personality type to succeed. 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.

So, specifically, what does a ScrumMaster do? First and foremost, the ScrumMaster remove any impediments that obstruct a team’s pursuit of its sprint goals. In other words, the ScrumMaster does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity. When a developer’s computer dies, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to get it back up and running—or get another one. If developers are complaining about the high temperature in the team room, the ScrumMaster must find a way to cool it down. It might be easy to summarize a ScrumMaster’s work in a sentence or two, but scenarios he or she could face are truly infinite.

But a ScrumMaster’s work doesn’t solely address the needs of the team; he or she is also responsible for helping the Product Owner maximize productivity. Facilitating productivity for the Product Owner might include helping maintain the backlog and release plan or radiating Scrum artifacts to ensure the Product Owner is informed about the team’s successes.


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