Exploring this Job
A good way to learn more about Scrum is to read the Scrum Guide. It’s available for free at https://scrumguides.org.
Check out InfoQ (https://www.infoq.com/scrum), an independent online community that has a comprehensive section on Scrum. The site features Scrum-focused podcasts, video interviews, news, and other resources.
The Agile Alliance offers a wealth of resources at https://www.agilealliance.org/agile-essentials that will help you to learn more about the framework. Resources include a glossary of terms, introductory videos, and a blog (https://www.agilealliance.org/resources) that features articles about Scrum.
Talk with Scrum masters about the basics of Scrum and their careers. Ask the following questions, and try to come up with your own, too.
- What made you want to become a Scrum master?
- What are the most important personal and professional traits for Scrum masters?
- What do you like and dislike about this career?
- How did you train for this field?
- Is certification important? If so, why?
- Any advice on breaking into the field?
Scrum masters oversee Scrum teams, which consist of 10 or fewer (ideally) multiskilled members. They work closely with the product owner who seeks to maximize the quality of the product created by the Scrum team by managing the product backlog and performing other duties that vary by employer. The product backlog is a list of revisions to existing features, new features, bug fixes, infrastructure changes, and other steps during product development that a team must address in order to achieve a specific outcome.
Duties of Scrum masters vary by employer and even a specific Scrum team at a company. But most educate team members about the five key Scrum values (commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage) that all successful Scrum practitioners should possess; plan and oversee sprints (a fixed-length—one month or less—event during a Scrum process in which actions are taken to meet a specific goal or goals); and create a sprint goal (the main goal that the Scrum team is trying to accomplish during the sprint) and user stories, which organize the sprint tasks into functional increments. The Scrum master identifies and removes any impediments to team success before, during, and after sprints (such as unnecessary bureaucracy, malfunctioning computers, or slow responses from other departments or customers). They also participate in daily meetings to discuss sprint accomplishments and future goals; coach and mentor members of the Scrum team regarding Scrum principles and best practices to achieve high levels of performance; ensure that product backlog items are clearly defined and discussed with the product owner; address and resolve any interpersonal disputes that threaten the quality of the work; ensure that all Scrum events and activities are completed within the planned time frame; and record and track the team’s progress on a Scrum board, a physical or online resource that visually represents completed tasks and work that has yet to be completed.
It’s important to remember that Scrum masters do not have ultimate control over team members like a traditional project manager or other manager does. They can’t fire or otherwise remove team members for poor performance or other reasons. Their job is to educate, facilitate, encourage, and inspire team members to embrace Scrum philosophies to improve the quality of the product and reduce the time it takes to be developed.