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What Does a Scrum Master Do?

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  • Written By: Kenneth W. Michael Wills
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The Scrum is a software development methodology that focuses on facilitating communication and collaboration between team members. Typically, a Scrum development team will have three main roles: the product owner, the Scrum Master and the team members. It is the Scrum Master who acts as the go-between, with the objective of ensuring effective communication and purposeful collaboration between the product owner and the team members. His or her function is two-fold: to enhance the efficiency of the product owner and facilitate the team’s productivity. Therefore, Scrum Masters find themselves in a leadership position that is one of servitude, rather than outright authority, although enforcement of rules is central to the position.

Working within a demanding role, the Scrum Master will carry out a diverse range of tasks to accomplish his or her mission. These may be high-level tasks, such as determining and directing work flows and schedules. Those tasks may be low level as well, such as adjusting the temperature in a room where the team is working to ensure comfort during longs hours of development. He or she will also respond to and mitigate disasters, such as fixing a developer's computer if it goes down or ensuring all systems are secure during the development process. Overall, anything — no matter how big or small — that impacts the productively of the team is the responsibility of the Scrum Master.

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Authority in the position, however, is derived from the fact that the Scrum Master holds responsibility for the process. While this person may not be able to make direct decisions regarding individual team members, he or she does hold the authority to make decisions related to productivity of the team as a whole. For example, if the Scrum Master feels a new work schedule needs implemented in order to achieve realistic development goals and meet achievable timelines, then he or she will determine that new schedule and distribute it to the team members. Enforcing rules is also a critical function of the position, to ensure that the team is not bogged down by inefficient distractions.

Relying on the Scrum Master, the product owner will expect a variety of information regarding the progress of the team to make decisions and directives when needed. Such information might include regular updates on different aspects of the development process and the challenges encountered. Assisting the product owner, the Scrum Master will also help maintain backlogs and other relevant process maintenance tasks to ensure efficiency. As well, he or she will act as a buffer between the product owner and the team to ensure goals are realistic and within the capabilities of the team during any given timeframe specified.

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