The Scrum Master is a key player in the agile development process, with a wide range of responsibilities. Learn more from our article!
We know, since Darwin, that in the animal kingdom it isn’t the strongest, biggest, or the most ferocious species that survives, but the one that adapts the best. Although the world of business is not ruled solely by the laws of the jungle, for a company the key to success is flexibility and fast adaptation to the changing needs of the market and the customers. Currently, this adaptability is mostly ensured by agile company culture.
Agile Software Development
Agility as a way of functioning has been around for a couple of decades. It first appeared in the area of software development. Starting from there it conquered the other branches and divisions of companies. The central idea is that the work is done by smaller, self-organizing groups representing several areas of expertise. There, communicating with one another is paramount, close and permanent cooperation with the customer is essential, and continually adapting to their changing needs is capital.
An agile model is most frequently applied in software development in a so-called scrum work-frame. A team of Scrum developers is composed of 8-10 people who know exactly what is expected from them, and who feel responsible for delivering the results. An important part of Scrum is that all members are equal in the hierarchy, they decide together on how to achieve their goals. But how to maintain order when there is no boss to give orders? This is where the Scrum Master comes into the picture.
What Does a Scrum Master Do?
It is not easy to define the role of a Scrum Master because they can have a myriad of missions during a project. Their job is to make sure that the principles of agility are respected in the team and to operate the mechanisms determined by the Scrum framework. (Participates in daily stand-ups, demos, and retrospectives, helps with planning the sprints, refines the backlog, and so on). Meanwhile, they help their team over the arising difficulties, show the way to the team members. In other words, they remove the obstacles that jeopardize the success of the project.
We can see that the Scrum Master must have several different skills and knowledge. They are at the same time an agile leader, expert, consultant, project manager, coach, mentor or if need be, well, spiritual trashcan.
Given that the soul of the agile method is laying within the good cooperation between the team members, they have to make sure it is the case. If tension arises, they are the ones to release it as part of individual or group conversations. The Scrum Master confronts the team, makes them focus on their performance, and encourages them to improve continuously. If the team loosens up if achieving their goals is jeopardized it is the Scrum Master who gives them a boost.
Given that they don‘t officially have power over their team. (everyone is equal in the team!) They can only affect the team with the strength of their personality and professional credibility. Besides, they cannot give orders; they have to convince the team members that their decisions are right and that they serve the common purpose.
Technical Knowledge is Not Enough Here
It is obvious that technical knowledge is necessary, but on its own, it is not enough for someone to be a good Scrum Master. They needn’t be the best developer or tester in the team but they have to know about it enough to understand and weigh the problems and to put forward solutions.
However human qualities are at least as important as technical knowledge. The Scrum Master needs to build a steady relationship with their team. However, they can’t let the team go over their head and mislead them.
The Scrum Master cannot be biased: They have to be aware of the strengths but also the weaknesses of the team members. Patience and determination to bring out the best of everyone, are the qualities needed for a group of skilled people to become an efficient team.
Who Can Become a Good Scrum Master?
Now, who can become a good Scrum Master? There are dozens of online courses that award Scrum Master certification after a few days of training. However, even a thorough knowledge of the agile methodology won't prepare you for the position's many layers of tasks. Being in an agile team for a few years can help gain insight and understanding of the methodology.
Besides work experience, it is good to have some life experience as well. Youthful drive and motivation are always welcome. Although, when you need to build an efficient team from people with different personalities and backgrounds empathy and conflict handling skills as well as leadership and motivational skills may be even better. And of course, as in all branches of IT, continuous learning, self-training, and improvement are paramount.
A Scrum Master’ Salary
Given their complex job description Scrum Masters may be the most well-paid members of the IT world. According to Bluebird Salary Guide, a junior Scrum Master’s basic income is between 600-750.000 HUF.
A senior Scrum Master can earn up to 1 million HUF. Besides, a leading Scrum Master can even ask for 50% more- and they will get it.
Scrum Master: In or Out?
There is no agreement on which is better.: If the Scrum Master is part of the team (for instance as a developer, one of the seniors), or if they are an outsider?
In favor of the first option: They live together with the team, understand the problems better, know the project and the code in development from the inside. What goes against it is that the Scrum Master’s individual development (testing etc.) tasks may conflict with team-wide tasks.
A Full-time Scrum Master costs extra, which can be limited if they are assigned to several teams at once. However, the latter can decrease their quality of work.
A solution could be that the Scrum Master is part of the team, but does not participate in the actual development as a Scrum Master.