How to become a great Scrum Master? Skills-Roles & Responsibilities

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Revealed! tactics to become Scrum master with complete scrum and business analysis course

Webinar hosts

John Doe

What you'll discover in the course

  • 1
    Complete business analysis with requirement management, BRD etc.
  • 2
    Complete scrum agile with burndown chart, backlog etc.
  • 3
    Projects with tools like JIRA and guided mentorship to help you

Have you been toying with the idea of becoming a scrum master? If yes, you are on right track.

In fact, if you just google or run a query on popular job sites like glassdoor, indeed, Naukri or linkedin jobs, you will realize that demand for scrum master has gone up significantly in last few years.

These job portals are flooded with scrum master openings.

If you look at this google trend report for keyword scrum master in India, you will realize that term has seen a uptrend in last decade and has been trending high in last few years.

scrum master google trend

Similarly if you were to run similar query to find out number of google search for scrum master in India, you will find that average monthly search for this term is around 18100, which is really high when it comes to a term which strictly applicable to a particular domain and there are only limited set of people who would be looking for information on it.

scrum master google search

I mean when it comes to sports or movie industry, number of search is usually high but when it comes to professional matters like scrum master or business analysis, there are very few people who are actively looking for such terms.

And in this context, this number really indicate high potential.

Now if you run scrum master in glassdoor india, you will find high number of job openings in India or globally. Let us try this out.

scrum master glassdoor

So, it is evident that scrum master roles are popular in current world and if you are thinking of diving into it, you are neither alone nor wrong.

But before you learn how to become a scrum master, you need to learn about scrum master. You need to learn who is a scrum master, roles & responsibilities of scrum masters and how to become a good scrum master.

Who is a Scrum master?

how to become scrum master

Scrum master is essentially a servant coach. Servant coach simply indicates that scrum master is not your conventional manager. Scrum master is there to charge on the team and force work on them. I am not saying that conventional manager does that, but idea is to highlight that it is not the manager who is allocating work to the team but the team itself.

Scrum master is just there to guide them, enhance collaboration, remove impediment and work with team to enforce scrum agile values.

NOT strictly speaking but more in practical sense, scrum master plays at the level of project manager in scrum projects.

In good old days, project manager used to handle all the project related monitoring, tracking & delivery along with resourcing, budgeting etc. But in scrum projects, most of these responsibilities are handled by scrum master except resourcing, budgets unless your company decide to give these responsibilities to scrum master.

There are all kinds of companies, some going through transition from waterfall to scrum or some startup where they may not be in a position to keep a separate project/program manager to handle rest of the program management activities and decide to use scrum master for such activities.

So, do not get surprised if you come across a scrum master who handles additional responsibilities but technically scrum master is primarily enforcing scrum values and helping team in achieving success by delivering great features in a time box event.

Now I know it is very controversial to compare scrum master with project manager, but objective of this comparison is to put things in context for newbies.

Of course, there is huge difference between scrum master and project manager, but you get the point.

Other than managing the project, there are no similarities in the role. And always account for the company specific practices which will always bring variation to certain degree to role and responsibility of a scrum master.

Continuing with the practical approach. Let us go through some of the most important and common roles and responsibilities of scrum master.

Roles & responsibilities of a scrum master

roles & responsibilities of scrum master

  • Scrum master is not the manager of the team.
  • Scrum master is responsible for ensuring that team sticks to scrum philosophy and way of working.
  • Scrum master is responsible for removing any impediments team faces to progress on the assigned user stories or features.
  • Scrum master is a coach who plays a leadership role like influencing without authority, resolving conflicts, keeping communication open and transparent about project’s status and issues.
  • Scrum master is responsible for tracking the project status and ensuring that team is consistently delivering high quality deliverables. It means that scrum master needs to ensure that velocity or the pace at which team is delivering features is consistent. It should follow a pattern and should not keep deviating throughout the project. So, if a team is delivering, let us say 50 story points, it should float in the range of 45-55 or max 40-60 for the given project. If team is delivering 50 in one sprint and 100 in another or 20 in some other, it means that team is not taking up work correctly. Therefore, scrum master needs to ensure that team and product owners are working correctly to pick and prioritize work in correct way.
  • Scrum master create and monitor burndown charts to track velocity and work.
  • Scrum master is responsible for defining definition of done and time boxing the events like sprint, sprint review, retrospective etc.
  • Scrum master is also responsible for setting up these rituals or meetings.
  • Scrum masters need to work closely with product owner to ensure sprint planning is done correctly to meeting project’s objective.
  • In a nutshell, scrum master is a facilitator in a scrum project who spend most time tracking project’s deliverables, measuring velocity, removing impediments, and communicating with all the stakeholders to maintain transparency about the project progress and issues.
  • Uses data or empirical evidence to help the team assess its Scrum Maturity.

The above-mentioned roles and responsibilities cover pretty much everything but as mentioned earlier, there could be additional project management activities like building project/product roadmap or attending management meetings related to the project.

Skills required for scrum master role

In terms of skills required for a scrum master role, I would say leadership is the most important skill. Having said that, i will encourage you to visit linkedin and go through profile of existing scrum masters to explore more about the skills of scrum masters. 

If we were to talk about job openings and the skills they usually seek, they should be.

  • Communication and facilitation skills
  • Coaching and mentoring team members.
  • Leadership, organizational, and time management skills
  • Managing priorities.
  • Influence without authority
  • Excellent written, verbal and presentation skills.
  • Time management skills, conflict resolution and other management & soft skills.

These are some of most asked skills for scrum master job openings. Scrum master is a non-technical job, so you will not see any technical requirement like programming etc.

Now let us see how you can become scrum master.

How to become a great Scrum master

Now you might be thinking that as there are no technical skills required, it will be easy to become a scrum master but as a matter of fact, it is not.

Scrum master is a leadership role and apart from having leadership and management skills, you need to learn scrum agile. So, if you are aiming for scrum master job openings, you should learn scrum and get some certification.

There are many scrum master certifications, if you are looking for one, click here to know more about my scrum agile certification.

Enroll NOW!

Personalized business analysis & scrum agile course with BRD, Burndown charts, Product backlog, case study, projects & guided mentorship to guide you in this new world on scrum agile. 

Whether you go for my course or some other certification, it’s very important to learn scrum and business analysis to become a good scrum master because as a non-technical role, you are expected to be good with following concepts;

  • Scrum (primary expectation)
  • Business analysis (secondary expectation)
  • Requirement management and prioritization as you need to work closely with product owner and team
  • Stakeholder management (primary expectation)

Unless you understand scrum philosophy or product owners and scrum team work to deliver great features, you can never become a great scrum master.

Most companies will ask for certification; therefore, I will highly recommend you get some scrum certification. But make sure, it is thorough and provided guided learning especially if you do not have any experience in managing scrum project.

If you are coming from a software development background, you need to ask following questions to yourself.

  • Can I manage a team with authority?
  • Can I answer questions on scrum like what is ideal team size for a scrum team?
  •  How good I am with stakeholder management? Do I know any framework or methodology which I can use to handle my stakeholders?
  • Do I understand how product manager or business analyst handles requirements, prioritization, validation etc?

You need to be thorough with above mentioned concepts before you apply for scrum master roles because you will be asked two types of questions in a typical scrum master interview.

  • Scrum related question- you need full knowledge of scrum to answer these questions.
  • Software development project related questions- these questions are not directly related to scrum, but they are related to other aspects like development cycle, requirements etc.
  • Situational concepts covering above mentioned both points where they will question to know how you react or apply scrum when faced with a real challenge.

To answer third question, you need to be either hands on with scrum or do some certification where they provided you guided interaction so that you can practice role of scrum master. For example, running scrum events, building, and maintaining a burndown chart and working with product owner and team.

Best way would be trying and getting the role of scrum master in your existing company or project because that will give you real exposure. But if you cannot do that, I will say do not wait longer, select a scrum master training, and start with that.

Reason is, in technology industry it does not take long for a role or position to get flooded with professionals. Even before you will realize there will be too many certified scrum masters in the market and then it will be like any other role in the industry.

Right now, this is the right phase to get into it because later you can aim for program manager or other management positions.

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About akhilendra

Hi, I’m Akhilendra and I write about Product management, Business Analysis, Data Science, IT & Web. Join me on Twitter, Facebook & Linkedin

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