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The role of a Scrum Master has become increasingly popular and important in recent times. Last year, LinkedIn included the title of a Scrum Master in their list of the Most Promising Jobs. With the way Agile and Scrum is growing, this is definitely not a surprise.
Scrum is a better way of building products. It is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value. It encourages effective team collaboration on complex products. It is light-weight, and easy to understand. It can pivot and encourages continuous feedback which in turn allows a project to fulfil the customer’s needs more accurately and precisely.
The Scrum Master
One of the critical roles in a scrum environment is played by a Scrum Master. While the title of a Scrum Master sounds like something out of a role-playing video game, in reality, it is a very serious role requiring good leadership and team management skills. The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that a true scrum process is followed throughout the course of a project. Scrum Masters are the glue that holds the application of the scrum framework together in an organization – for the organization, the product owner, and the scrum team.
Agile transformations and transitions are top-of-the-mind and in-progress for enterprises of all sizes everywhere. It is simply the common-sense response to today’s digital age, and this trend would not be slowing down anytime soon. In a recent Scrum.org survey, 58% of the respondents who were Scrum Masters had launched an agile transition in their organizations. Undoubtedly, Scrum Masters play an indispensable role in in Agile transitions, remove impediments, and ensure smooth functioning of the Scrum processes. Having a Certified Scrum Master on board for promoting and supporting the process is essential for organizations today.
What does the Scrum Master do?
A Scrum Master wears multiple hats in an organization. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master:
- Serve the Scrum Product Owner by ensuring that the goals, scope, and the product domain are thoroughly understood by everyone in the Scrum team.
- Work on effectively managing the product backlog, working with the scrum team to ensure that the product backlog items are kept clear and concise.
- Use reporting tools like Kanban to ensure that the scrum teams are on track with their goals
- Manage the product planning in empirical environments
- Manage a seamless transition to Scrum
- Actively participate and lead Agile transformation in organizations
- Set up meetings as needed to direct or pass on information about the scrum process
- Help maintain the burndown charts
- Set up retrospectives, sprint reviews, and sprint planning sessions
A Scrum Master is not responsible for the success of the project and is not involved in planning the releases. He does not generally participate in the daily scrum meetings either. He is like a mechanic who doesn’t drive the car himself but ensures that the car is perfect working condition.
How can organizations kick off a transition to Scrum?
Like every other transformation, people generally have high expectations when they transition to Scrum. The key benefits an organization derives from transitioning to scrum are:
- Increased productivity
- Better employee morale
- Improved financial efficiency
- A healthier culture of communication
- Better accountability
- More transparency in operation
- Better and stronger leadership
- Increased flexibility
- Scope to be more creative
The best approach to take when you plan to transition from a traditional development model to a Scrum framework is the ‘Plan-Train-Coach’ approach.
Plan the transformation
For a successful Agile transformation and transition to Scrum, you need to plan beforehand as you would need the people, resources, processes, support, tools, etc. to be in place. You would need to organize your scrum teams and assign the roles accordingly. You would also need complete cross-functional teams to manage the scrum processes. Identifying a qualified Scrum Master would also be a very important task. You would also need to identify a qualified Scrum Product Owner. You would need to define the sprint length that would work for your product and the teams that depend on it. And you would need to put together a suitable organizational support to help overcome barriers, meet the required governance compliances, etc.
Train the resources in Agile and Scrum
Training is the most important step in the transition to scrum from traditional development, and unfortunately, the most-often skipped step too. Organizations tend to skip training the professionals, and end up not getting the expected success from their Agile program. They eventually blame the process for not being as efficient as advertised, but forget to notice that they missed an essential step. Everybody who is going to involved in the transition and the functioning post-transition needs to be thoroughly trained to understand the concepts and skills they would need to work in the new environment. Skipping the training process can lead to short term savings, but turns out to be really expensive in the long term. So, invest time and resources in training your workforce in Agile and Scrum. Everyone involved in the process would need to understand what Agile and scrum is, and would need to buy into the change. Role-based training is a very successful technique to train teams in scrum. Also, have your Scrum Masters and Scrum Product Owners get trained and certified too.
Scrum and Agile Coaching
Scrum and Agile coaching is another area where organizations tend to cut costs, but it is also a very important step. Scrum and Agile is not something you decide to adopt one fine day and get going, it requires a change in thinking, a change in habits, and a change in the way teams operate. Select an internal champion who will lead the coaching efforts. Generally, a Certified Scrum Master would be the best fit for this. The Scrum Master would lead the efforts not just for coaching but also for the transition and transformation. The second in line for this process should be the development team and the Scrum product owner. Coaching the leaders and helping them create an Agile environment could last beyond a few sprints and would take time. But it goes a long way in ensuring the success of your Agile transition.
Transition to Agile should not be done with a waterfall approach – planning extensively before the start and then sticking to the plan. Organizations need to be agile even when they are transitioning to agile and Scrum. They need to retrospect, and engage in continuous learning. Improvements and tweaks need to be made as and when the need arises. And the goals need to be measurable. Things could take a little time to fall in place, and provided you follow all the steps, they will definitely lead you to success. Whenever you run into a challenge, step back, review, and make adjustments.
Opportunities for Certified Scrum Masters
Certified Scrum Masters are seeing a huge demand in the United States. Top organizations like Boeing, Bank of America, JPMC, etc. are on the lookout for trained and Certified Scrum Masters. According to LinkedIn’s Most Promising Jobs of 2019 Report, Scrum Master is among the Top 10 Most Promising Jobs in 2019 in the United States. The median salary of a Certified Scrum Master would be about $121,000. The job openings for Certified Scrum Masters have seen a year-on-year growth of 67%, with 2000+ more job opportunities listed for Certified Scrum Masters, compared to the previous year. LinkedIn also ranks the career advance possibilities for the role of a Scrum Master as an 8 out of 10, which is an outstanding score for any role, and definitely one of the highest. This would go on to tell you how promising the career as a Certified Scrum Master is. Agile and Scrum offer immense value to every business, their popularity is not going to die down, and consequently, the role of a Certified Scrum Master is going to stay in huge demand for a long, long time.
The Certified Scrum Master certification given by the Scrum Alliance can definitely put you in the league of top Scrum Masters in the country. Cognixia – world’s leading digital talent transformation company offers intensive hands-on training for the Certified Scrum Master aspirants. We follow the official guidelines laid out by Scrum Alliance for the Scrum Master training and ensure we prepare every participant thoroughly for the Scrum Master certification exam. We offer training for individuals as well as corporate workforce. To know more about our Certified Scrum Master Training, visit here.