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What is a Scrum Master?

At Siteset we eat, sleep and breath Agile. We adopted Agile and Scrum over a year ago and we’ve constantly refined our Agile process to meet our needs. As part our journey the projects team were sent out to obtain a Scrum Master Certification.

So what is a Scrum Master? To first understand what a Scrum Master is, you need to know what Scrum is. According to scrum.org;

“Scrum is a management and control process that cuts through complexity to focus on building software that meets business needs. Management and teams are able to get their hands around the requirements and technologies, never let go, and deliver working software, incrementally and empirically.

Scrum itself is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex software projects.”

Now as Scrum Master I’m responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. I do this by ensuring the Scrum team adheres to Scrum theory, practices and rules. As a Scrum Master I am also responsible for helping those outside the Scrum team understand which of their interactions are helpful and which are not. The Scrum Master helps everyone with these interactions to maximise the value created by the team. As a Scrum Master I have a duty to the following stakeholders in any project;

Product Owner
As a Scrum Master I would serve the product owner in many ways, including finding techniques for effective backlog management. At Siteset we meet once a fortnight to organise and prioritise the backlog, an exercise which is informed by our interactions with clients. This is an important process as this helps the Scrum team maximise the value delivered to the client in a given sprint and resulting in a shippable product at the end of the sprint.

The Agile Team
I also have several duties to the development team, for example coaching them in self-organisation. This could mean something as simple as encouraging the Scrum team to own the Scrum board, which was something of a challenge initially here but was swiftly overcome with effective coaching. I also encourage cross functional development practices, such as pair programming, which helps the Scrum team develop skills faster and further and creating Agile individuals as well as Agile processes.

The team has taken this one step further by introducing the idea of ‘mob programming’, where a group of programmers come together to undertake the same task together at the same time and in the same space, around one computer but with ideas presented one person at a time.

I also help remove impediments to the development teams progress. Impediments (known as issues in traditional Project Management) are any things which are preventing the team from meeting their obligations to deliver a given task and could be something as simple as a problem with equipment, but could equally be a lack of information from a client.

One of the key responsibilities is to facilitate Scrum events such as backlog grooming and sprint planning sessions and coaching all stakeholders in where Scrum is not fully adopted or understood and is resulting in a less effective environment for delivery.

Service to the organisation

At Siteset being a Scrum Master helps service the organisation in a wider sense as well. This happens in ways such as leading and coaching the organisation in its Scrum adoption, proposing ways to use Agile for the non-project teams, planning Scrum implementation within the teams, helping employees and stakeholders enact Scrum at empirical product development, causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum team and working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of Scrum in the organisation.

So that is the role of the Scrum Master in a nutshell. A good Scrum Master will:
• Help the team stay organised and focused on their product goal
• Remove impediments
• Communicate effectively with the product owner
By doing this they’ll keep the team focused, keep them effective and get them delivering great products!

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