What is a Scrum Master?

In my last blog post, I talked about Scrum vs. Agile Development Methodology. In this post, I really want to start driving down into one of the roles in agile scrum development, the Scrum Master. As you know there are three roles in agile development the Scrum Master, the Product Owner & the Development Team.

Traditional Project Manager Roles & Responsibilities

A project manager is a person who is responsible for the success of a project. Their roles are to successfully initiate, plan, design, execute and monitor the project. Overall, this one person is the one driving the results of the project. If the project fails, it’s on this one single person. Construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology, and many different industries that produce products and services use this job title.

The role of the project manager encompasses many activities including:

  • Planning and Defining Scope
  • Activity Planning and Sequencing
  • Resource Planning
  • Developing Schedules
  • Time Estimating
  • Cost Estimating
  • Developing a Budget
  • Documentation
  • Creating Charts and Schedules
  • Risk Analysis
  • Managing Risks and Issues
  • Monitoring and Reporting Progress
  • Team Leadership
  • Strategic Influencing
  • Business Partnering
  • Working with Vendors
  • Scalability, Interoperability and Portability Analysis
  • Controlling Quality
  • Benefits Realization

As you can see there are a lot of things that the project manager is responsible for, which means that there could be a lot of things that go wrong. Things are really a bit different in an Agile organization.

Things are really a bit different in an Agile Scrum organization. Let’s get into the meat and potatoes here.

What is a Scrum Master?

A scrum master is a pretty unique role in agile scrum development. They have a multitude of roles within a team and within the organization as a whole.

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum is understood and enacted upon. They do this by making sure that the Scrum team lives by the core values and practices of the Agile Scrum methodology.

The Scrum Master should be seen as a servant leader role. The Scrum Master has often been seen as a coach and a guide for the team, overall helping the team.

Additionally, the Scrum Master should be an advocate for the Agile Scrum framework within the organization.

What does it really mean to be a servant leader in Agile Scrum?

The Scrum Master is responsible for removing impediments that the team has. Since it is no longer the team’s job to remove their own impediments, the team now can actually work better and much more effectively.

Additionally, the Scrum Master ensures that the team is held accountable for their commitments they have made to the project.

Take note that there’s no real “management” as a scrum master, you’re essentially the facilitator of change. So, who manages? No one! That’s the amazing thing about Scrum, it’s a self-organized system which allows for work to be done very effectively.

What are the roles of a Scrum Master?

The Scrum Master has a lot of roles & responsibilities within an organization. These roles are really related to being a servant leader to the other members of the Scrum.

Scrum Master to the Product Owner

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in a number of ways, including:

  • Finding techniques for having effective Product Backlog Management.
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for a clear and concise Product Backlog.
  • Understanding product planning in an empirical environment.
  • Ensuring that the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog.
  • Understanding and practicing the Agile methodology.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.

Scrum Master’s Service to the Development Team

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader to the Development Team in the following ways:

  • Provides coaching to the Development Team on how to be Self-Organized and do Cross-Functionality.
  • Helping the Development Team create high-value products.
  • Removing impediments that the Development Team’s having in order to make progress.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
  • Provide coaching to the Development Team in an organizational environment in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.

Scrum Master’s Service to the Organization

  • The Scrum Master needs to lead the organizational change into Scrum adoption. They should be an advocate for Scrum.
  • They should be able to plan Scrum implementations within the organization.
  • Help employees and stakeholders understand enact Scrum and empirical product development.
  • Causing changes that would increase the productivity of the Scrum Team.
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum within the organization.

What does it take to be a Scrum Master?

Ideally in order to be a true servant leader you want to have the ability to listen, a commitment to growth, foresight, and the ability to build a community.

In addition to those characteristics, you want to be able to collaborate well, build trust amongst your teams, have empathy, and have an ethical use of power.

If you really want a checklist if you would be a good Scurm Master, then download the ScrumMaster Checklist by Michael James from Danube.


There’s a lot to being a ScrumMaster. Don’t think if you are one, you just get to kick back and relax. You have a lot of responsibilities to ensure that the team isn’t blocked and that the organization as a whole is adopting the Scrum principles and methodologies effectively.

I know that this role might be tough to enact, especially in a traditional project management company. That is where we come in. If you need help adapting your organization to the Agile Scrum Methodology, contact us and we can help.


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