What is a Scrum master? A key role for project success

Scrum is a powerful framework for implementing agile processes in software development and other projects. This highly adopted framework utilizes short iterations of work, called sprints, and daily meetings, called scrums, to tackle discrete portions of a project in succession until the project is complete. There are three key roles within Scrum: Scrum master, product owner and Scrum team members.

Scrum master definition

The Scrum master is the leader of a Scrum team and is responsible for championing a project, providing guidance to the team and product owner, and ensuring all agile practices are followed by team members. The Scrum master not only addresses all facets of the agile development process but also serves the business, product owner, team and individuals and facilitates communication and collaboration between all these elements.

Scrum master role

Because the role is at the nexus between the business, product owner, agile team and individuals, the Scrum master’s responsibilities will vary depending on the unique needs of each business and team. Some Scrum masters also serve as a team’s project manager. Some also fill the role of an organizational agile coach. Others do not.

Scrum master responsibilities

Generally, Scrum masters fulfill the following responsibilities, as laid out by The Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber:

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of Scrum in the organization

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