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What is a Scrum master? A key role for project success

What is a Scrum master? A key role for project success

Scrum is a powerful framework for implementing agile processes in software development and other projects. This highly adopted framework utilizes short iterations of work, called sprints, and daily meetings, called scrums, to tackle discrete portions of a project in succession until the project is complete. There are three key roles within Scrum: Scrum master, product owner and Scrum team members.

The Scrum master is the leader of a Scrum team and is responsible for championing a project, providing guidance to the team and product owner, and ensuring all agile practices are followed by team members. The Scrum master not only addresses all facets of the agile development process but also serves the business, product owner, team and individuals and facilitates communication and collaboration between all these elements.

Because the role is at the nexus between the business, product owner, agile team and individuals, the Scrum master’s responsibilities will vary depending on the unique needs of each business and team. Some Scrum masters also serve as a team’s project manager. Some also fill the role of an organizational agile coach. Others do not.

Generally, Scrum masters fulfill the following responsibilities, as laid out by The Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber:

There may be some confusion about the role and responsibilities of a Scrum master vs. a project manager. While, as mentioned, a Scrum master may also fulfill the role of a project manager, here are key differences in the roles and responsibilities of each.

At a more granular level, a Scrum master’s responsibilities and tasks differ depending on which team members they’re working with:

Two well-recognized organizations, Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org, offer Scrum training and certifications.

Scrum Alliance, established in 2001, is one of the more influential organizations in the agile community. It is a nonprofit association with more than 500,000 certified practitioners worldwide. The Scrum Alliance offers the following Scrum certifications:

Scrum.org was founded in 2009 by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the originators of Scrum, as a “global organization, dedicated to improving the profession of software delivery by reducing the gaps, so the work and work products are dependable.”

Scrum.org offers Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications at three levels:

For more information, see “Scrum master certification: Top 9 certs for agile pros.”

Based on findings by the Project Management Institute’s “Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Tenth Edition,” project managers working in agile/interactive/incremental project management/Scrum earn:

Since Scrum can be applied to virtually any organization, Scrum masters are in high demand as companies continue to look for ways to get their projects completed and their products to market faster. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s “Most promising jobs of 2017,” job openings for Scrum masters grew 104 percent year-over-year from 2016, and the career advancement score is 8 out of 10. These findings are based on the potential for career advancement, job growth, and salary. Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, in 2018, demand for certified Scrum masters grew 24 percent.  

Project management offices (PMOs) or product development departments within many business sectors hire Scrum masters to streamline their software development processes. This can include software, healthcare, aviation, technology, engineering, construction, real estate, publishing, financial, marketing, manufacturing, education, insurance, government, and others.

The following four job boards provide a good starting point for those seeking a new job as a Scrum master:

This story, “What is a Scrum master? A key role for project success” was originally published by

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