What is a Scrum Master?

Scrum Master is a person who coaches the Scrum team on the Scrum framework to extract maximum value out of each sprint. In this blog on what is a Scrum Master we are going to learn about the Scrum framework, what does a Scrum Master do, Scrum certifications, and the average salary of a certified professional based on different scenarios.

What is a Scrum Master
Updated on 14th Apr, 21 23 Views

Scrum Master is a part of the Scrum team, other than a Product Owner and developers. Unlike the Product Owner, he acts as a mentor to the team, coaching the members and making value-driven plans based on the Scrum framework.

The Scrum Master is a bit different from Project Managers as well, which we will discuss later in the blog. However, their pay scale is not anywhere less than a Project Manager. According to PayScale, the average Scrum Master salary is around US$91,854 per annum in the United States. So, it is worthwhile to know who a Scrum Master is and other details as follows:

Before starting, let’s have an idea about the jargons used in this blog. So, what is Scrum?

For in-depth information about the topic, check out this video on Scrum:

 

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams, and organizations work together and generate value from complex problems using adaptive solutions. It is a collection of rules, events, principles, and artifacts used to create products and software in less time.

As compared to the traditional Waterfall processes, Scrum helps companies significantly raise productivity by adapting to the rapidly changing requirements and creating a product that matches business objectives.

A lot of people associate Scrum with Agile and consider them to be the same, while it is a myth. Agile is the set of rules and principles set for the software development process, while Scrum is a framework suitable for those projects in which changes in product requirements are frequent.

To make the difference more clear, you need to first understand the traditional approach and Agile methodology used for application development.

Waterfall vs Agile

Waterfall Model

It is a linear life cycle model followed in a sequential order where the project team will move on to the next phase only if the previous one is finished. After gathering all the requirements from the customer, the team will start designing, implementing, and will go on.

In the Waterfall model, it is difficult to make any changes to the previous phase if the customer wants to add new features. It becomes a tedious task to remove the bugs after the development phase is over. Also, the customer has to wait for a long period and spend more money to get the working software.

Agile

In the case of Agile, it follows an iterative approach where the customer is involved in every phase of the project development. It separates the whole life cycle into multiple iterations and the development and testing activities for each aspect of the project are concurrent.

The Agile methodology is used for the projects where the customer wants a working application in a short time and also the requirements are dynamic. Also, it is easier to remove bugs or make changes without spending much time and resources.

Now, the Scrum framework implements the Agile processes by allowing the team to deliver the components incrementally after every sprint and improving any of them if needed. A sprint is a fixed time period in which the team has to deliver a certain aspect or part of the project. In other words, it is the time required to build, test, and review finite work given by the manager.

Now, let’s discuss who is Scrum Master and the reasons an organization needs one.

 

What is a Scrum Master?

Scrum Master is the person who is accountable for establishing Scrum as per the Scrum guide and helps both the Scrum team and the organization understand the Scrum theory and practice. A Scrum Master is a part of the Scrum team, along with the Product Owner and developers.

In a Scrum team, the Product Owner is responsible to maximize the value or profit of the product being developed. The Product Owner makes important decisions and delegates the responsibilities to other members of the team. The professional also reviews the work of the Scrum team after each sprint and makes decisions to improve the value of the outcome for the next one.

On the other hand, developers are engineers, analysts, and subject experts who design, develop, and test various aspects of the project.

Scrum Master Definition

The full form of CSM is Certified Scrum Master. Scrum Master is a person who improves the Scrum team’s effectiveness by improving the practices within the Scrum framework. The professional ensures that proper communication is in place between the Product Owner and the developers in every sprint.

Let’s move forward and understand what a Scrum Master does?

 

Scrum Master Job Description

A Scrum Master plays an important part in the development of complex projects where proper planning, feedback, and changes are required between each sprint. As mentioned earlier, the professional is a part of the Scrum team. In a Scrum team, while the Product Owner is responsible to maximize the value or profit of the product being developed and developers are committed to creating the product, the Scrum Master has a mentoring role.

Scrum Master Job Description

The Scrum Master creates the Scrum guide for every project and makes changes, if required, in between sprints accordingly. The Scrum guide contains the tasks, requirements, and the process for each phase of the development. He/she also helps the Product Owner implement a proper Scrum framework for maximum value extraction.

Scrum master also plays an important role in Customer Relationship Management(CRM) and plans the best strategy that fulfils customer needs. But, what is CRM in the first place? Well, it refers to the strategies and application of the technology to learn about the customer needs and behaviour to build a better relation with them.

Check out the Scrum Master Interview Questions if you’re preparing for jobs.

Now, let’s talk about roles and responsibilities that a Scrum master needs to fulfill for the better performance of the Scrum team.

 

Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities

A Scrum Master has different roles to play in an organization catering to both the Scrum team and the Product Owner. As a part of the Scrum team, it serves them in different ways.

Being a part of the Scrum team, the Scrum Master is responsible to:

  • Help the team focus on and improve the value of the product delivered after every sprint and customer review
  • Remove the obstacles that may affect the Scrum team’s progress. For example, certain aspects of the project may require more time as compared to the other ones. At times, resources may not be available, or there may be a lack of communication between the Product Owner and the developers. All these can act as hurdles, and the Scrum Master has to deal with them
  • Ensure that the events taking place are positive, kept within the timebox, and able to fulfill the requirements

For the Product Owner, the Scrum Master needs to:

  • Help find the techniques to identify effective product goal definition and product goal management
  • Understand the need for clear and concise product backlog items. The product backlog refers to the list of various tasks of the development team derived from the project requirements
  • Help establish effective product planning for any complex environment. In other words, the Scrum Master has to make plans that simplify the development process and reduce the time needed to complete the whole project
  • Facilitate collaboration with stakeholders as per the requirements

In the organization, the professional’s responsibilities include:

  • Training the organization in its Scrum adoption
  • Advising and planning the Scrum implementation within the organization
  • Helping stakeholders and employees understand and ordain an empirical approach toward work
  • Improving the communication between stakeholders and the Scrum team

Below is an exhaustive list of some more Scrum Master responsibilities that you should know about if you are planning to enter the career:

  • Standups: The professional facilitates the daily scrum based on the requirements and feedback from the previous sprint.
  • Sprint iterations: The professional protects the team from over-committing the tasks assigned and assists the team in identifying priority tasks.
  • Review sprints: The professional participates in meetings and captures the feedback after each sprint is over to improve the efficiency of the Scrum team.
  • Retrospection: He/she has to list the areas to improve or take action on those for future sprints.
  • Board administration: The professionalworks as the administrator and ensures that the Scrum tools and other software are working properly.
  • One-on-one sessions: He/she needs to have one-on-one meetings with the team members and stakeholders to iron out any disagreement or flaw in the process. While many Scrum practitioners think these interactions are crucial for team development, some believe that this communication should happen during standups.
  • Consulting: Consulting with the Scrum team and stakeholders, the Scrum Master finds out the best strategy to maximize the value extracted from each sprint.
  • Reporting: The professional analyzes various charts and other portfolio planning tools to find out what sprint gets built up and at what level, regularly.
  • Blockers: The professional helps the team by resolving both external and internal risks from the workflow environment.
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Scrum Master vs Project Manager

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the Scrum Master job role is different from a Project Manager profile. Below are the key points that differentiate a Scrum Master from a Project Manager:

ParameterScrum MasterProject Manager
GoalsMakes sure that team members are well aware of the Scrum framework, and coaches them to maximize the valueHas defined goals viz. budget planning, project scoping, completing the project on time, and meeting customer requirements
Quality AssuranceKnows the importance of quality and finds and implements strategies to achieve it in a given sprintKnows the importance of quality but doesn’t know how to achieve it, and hires a consultant to achieve it
Team SizeTries to work with a smaller team irrespective of the budget to increase the value of the projectWorks with more people and a huge budget
Working IndustryWorks on projects related to the IT industryWorks on projects that are from diverse industries

Now that you are aware of the roles and responsibilities, let’s talk about the learning path and the certification you would require to become a Professional Scrum Master.

 

How to become a Scrum Master?

One of the best pathways to get into the Scrum Master jobs is to go for a certification in Scrum. The certification process will help master the fundamentals of the Scrum framework. Also, you will get familiar with various terms and procedures of Scrum, such as team roles, artifacts, events, and others.

In addition to the certification, real-world experience in the industry will also help you further expand your career as a Scrum Master in different industries. However, to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), you need to know the basics of the Scrum framework and agile development methodologies and crack the certification exam.

Also, skills such as team management, organization, and design will give an extra push to your career. A 2-day (16-hour) course will give an overview of the Scrum framework and prepare you for the Certified Scrum Master exam. Hands-on experience on Scrum projects will improve your skills and make you stand out from other candidates.

Don’t know the difference between Scrum and Agile? Check out this video:

 

Scrum Master Certifications

Scrum offers three levels of Professional Scrum Master certification that cover both the fundamentals and the advanced-level concepts of Scrum Master. Let’s briefly discuss the knowledge that you will get from these certifications.

Level One

The level one certification will give you a basic knowledge of the Scrum framework. You need not have an in-depth knowledge of Scrum to clear this certification. However, prior knowledge of Agile rules and principles would be a plus point.

Level Two

The level two certification will teach you how to solve complex problems in the real world. To earn the certification, you should have in-depth Scrum knowledge or clear the level one certification.

Level Three

After cracking the level one or level two certification as a Professional Scrum Master, you can give the level three assessment. The certificate holders prove that they have a deep understanding of Scrum practices, Scrum values, the application of Scrum, and the ability to apply Scrum in complex teams and organizational situations.

Check out expert-complied Scrum Master Interview Questions if you are preparing for a job interview.

Now, let’s move ahead and learn about the average salary a Scrum Master gets based on factors such as the location and experience in the industry.

 

Scrum Master Salary

In this section, you will come across the salary earned by Scrum Masters in India and other countries.

Scrum Master Salary

Your salary as a Scrum Master will greatly depend on the level of certifications and experience you have in the industry. If you are a fresher, gaining hands-on-experience on different Scrum projects will make your profile stand out and bring value to the table.

According to PayScale, the average salary of a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is around US$91,854 per annum. However, it varies depending on your experience level and the country you live in.

Below is a list of the average salary of Scrum Masters per annum based on their experience:

Entry-level (less than 1 year)US$69,000
Early-career (1–4 years)US$83,000
Mid-career (5–9 years)US$100,000
Late-career (10–19 years )US$107,000
Experienced (20+ years)US$113,000

Apart from the experience, your average annual salary will also vary from country to country:

The United StatesUS$100,000–125,000
The United KingdomUS$60,000–70,000
IndiaUS$20,000–30,000

Conclusion

A Scrum Master plays an important part in the Scrum team when it comes to implementing Agile development methodologies for developing products using the Scrum framework. The Scrum Master coaches the team and makes them understand the Scrum framework and its principles and practices to extract maximum value in each sprint.

Unlike the Product Owner, he/she does not give orders to the Scrum team. Rather, the professional creates the best possible strategy using the Scrum rules and principles to increase productivity and improve the performance of the Scrum team often called ‘servants’ leaders.’

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