In terms of project management methodologies, there is little doubt that Agile is the new king, and perhaps Scrum is the most high-profile of the Agile frameworks. So what is a Scrum Master, and how do you become a top-class one?
One of the main advantages of using Agile is that Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects.
What is a Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master is the facilitator, coach, and key liaison and provides guidance and assistance to the product owner and the Scrum team. The role focuses on creating a conducive environment. They also assist the product owner with issues, including backlog size, priorities, and release schedules. They coach and guide the team as opposed to planning/managing time.
It is important to recognise that, despite sharing a number of key skills, a Scrum Master is not the same as a project manager. There are several key differences as outlined below:
Scrum Masters need to be flexible in terms of revision/improvement rather than project managers who need to be experts at sticking to a prescribed goal
Project managers focus on tasks and outcomes whilst Scrum Masters focus on coaching, mentoring and facilitating
Scrum Masters are often responsible for multiple teams
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What makes a great Scrum Master
A thorough understanding of the Scrum framework including knowledge of optimal Sprint durations, backlog priorities, velocity charts, Sprint planning, Sprint retrospectives and Sprint reviews
Experience in developing and/or strengthening Agile methodologies and values
Ability to act as a leader rather than purely assign and supervise tasks
Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
Sound technical knowledge
Ability to motivate others
Eight steps to becoming a great Scrum Master:
Learn everything about the Scrum framework
Be a great coach and facilitator
Learn how to communicate with stakeholders at all levels
Remain organised and on schedule
Act as a shield for distractions to your team
Take a Scrum certification course
Recognise team conflict and resolve it
Keep up-to-date on the team’s activities and status