Are you thinking of taking on a Scrum Master role? Do you know what the Scrum Master responsibilities are? To make sure you’re ready to carry out Scrum Master responsibilities, ensure that you have a good understanding of what’s involved.
You may at first think it’s just leading the team in answering the three questions in your daily scrum meeting. But as you read on, you’ll see there’s more involved in Scrum Master responsibilities.
Several years ago, I sat down to have lunch with my friend Debra and catch up. We used to work together as project managers. Over lunch, Debra told me that she’d taken on the role of Scrum Master. She changed jobs and moved to a company that was using an Agile approach to their projects.
It sounded impressive. I’d heard lots of talk about Agile. But wait…I realized I didn’t know what the Scrum Master responsibilities were.
It was time to find out, especially since I was getting more experience working on an Agile team.
Scrum Master Responsibilities
The Scrum Master takes a more leadership role in the following activities.
The Scrum Master Leads the following Activities
- Lead Sprint Planning. Scrum Master coordinates and leads this session. She’ll handle the logistics for the Sprint Planning session. Secure the room, conference lines, and calendar invitations.
She facilitates this session in which the scrum team plans the upcoming sprint. For the sprint, she creates a calendar of team members’ availability and capacity. She sets up all the meetings for the sprint and handles the meeting logistics. If she needs to solidify a location, conference lines, projectors, etc., she’ll take care of this. During the Sprint planning session, the team prioritizes work for the upcoming sprint. The Product Owner will help determine the priorities. The team then pulls high priority stories from the backlog into the sprint backlog. The team decides who will work on what items. The output is a committed Sprint Backlog with estimated, allocated and prioritized user stories.
- Lead / Organize the Daily Scrum Meeting. I previously gave a lift of 9 best practices for the daily scrum meeting that tells more about this daily session. Scrum teams are self-organizing and motivated. They can move forward with their scrum meetings even if the Scrum Master isn’t there. But with that in mind, the Scrum Master does bring value to the team. The scrum session is a session for the team to communicate with one-another. It’s not a meeting for team members to give a status report to the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is there as a servant-leader to the team. She makes sure the team follows the 3 Questions (link to my article on the Daily Standup) She keeps the team focused. If necessary, she brings them back on point. She holds certain discussion topics for after the stand-up.
She listens for roadblocks that keep the team from moving forward.
She also facilitates task and sprint burndown review during these sessions so that the team can adjust as needed.
- Lead the Sprint Retrospective.
The Scrum Master facilitates this session. The team identifies improvements and chooses which to incorporate into next sprint. They inspect and adapt their process to identify several things to improve. It could be relationships, processes, or how they’re using the tools. It could be longer-term improvement goals to work toward. Team members could identify group goals or personal targets. The Scrum Master facilitates this session and documents the target improvements. She also helps incorporate these going forward.
Other Scrum Master Responsibilities
The Scrum Master responsibilities include other activities, too. The following activities are less of a leadership role. But her involvement is important.
- Help with the Sprint Review. The product owner leads this session. The team does demos of completed functionality. They also review release burndown charts to see progress so far. The team updates the plans as needed.
- Assist with the Product Backlog. The Scrum Master can assist with the product backlog Creation and Grooming sessions. The activities the Scrum Master might help with include scheduling the meeting and handling logistics. She helps the Product Owner and team write user stories to create the backlog. Users and key stakeholders also take part in this session. Once the group creates the backlog stories, they’ll use future sessions to groom them.
- Take part in Upfront Planning and Discovery. Everyone on the team, along with stakeholders, take part in this session. It’s the upfront planning needed to get the team moving forward with the same goals and vision.
The group decides the product vison and approach. They decide the definition of done and what’s included in the initial backlog. They work together to identify dependencies, risks, and other relevant information.
The Scrum Master doesn’t lead this session. But she needs to be a part of it to have the same understanding as everyone else on the team.
- Take part in Release Planning & Release Backlog Refinement.
The Product Owner leads this session. The Scrum Master assists the Product Owner where needed. The team reviews the product backlog and determines the product release dates. The group refines the product vision and product backlog. They also update the release plan and roadmap.
This is generally done quarterly.
- Work with the Product Owner and others to remove roadblocks. One of the main Scrum Master responsibilities is to support the team in getting their work done. This includes removing roadblocks and impediments. Whenever she learns of anything getting in their way, she steps in to correct this. This will often include working closely with the Product Owner to remove roadblocks. This will vary from Sprint to Sprint, and the issues will be different. She needs to be ready to work with others to enable the team to move forward.
- Reduce team disruptions. This is closely related to removing roadblocks, and could overlap. There are times when the team may get mixed messages about priorities. This could come from stakeholders or management. The Scrum Master needs to be aware of this and raising a red flag if the team isn’t working on the highest priorities. There are times when this may be valid. If production issues need immediate attention, the team may need to shift focus. But the Scrum Master needs to keep this in mind at all times and reduce disruptions when possible.
- Assist with Reporting. If the team is using electronic tools, the Scrum Master reminds the team to keep user stories updated. This keeps dashboards up-to-date and burndown charts and other reporting tools accurate. Everyone has the best intentions. But sometimes team members forget to update stories. The Scrum Master can help.
Other Scrum Master Responsibilities Not Usually Found in Job Descriptions
The Scrum Master may find herself doing many of the following activities. The Scrum Master responsibilities can include any of the following as needed.
- Helping to solve problems
- Addressing team issues
- Helping the team collaborate
- Managing risks and dependencies
If you want to know how to have a great Scrum Meeting, check out this post:
If your team isn’t ready to fully embrace Agile, go check out my post on easy ways to give it a try: