What is a Scrum Master and Why are They in So Much Demand?

What is a Scrum Master and Why are They in So Much Demand? | Product Design & Innovation | Emeritus

Over the last 12 months, the term Scrum Master appeared 119,428 times in job postings. And according to Glassdoor, scrum masters in the US earn a whopping average of $108,369 per year as of June 2022. But to understand what is a Scrum Master and his/her role within an organization, we must look at what Scrum is all about. Even though Scrum Master sounds like the title of a wise old sage from a legend, you’ll be surprised to learn that the role is essentially a driver of high-performing teams, much like a technical Yoda. 

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What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework for the development of complex projects. The Agile project management methodology employs short development cycles known as Sprints, which result in a continuous product or service improvement. Scrum is a framework initially used in the Information Technology (IT) industry to create software products

Numerous Agile frameworks are available, with Scrum being a popular choice for fast-paced projects. The flow goes like this:

  • Step 1: The product owner submits a request 
  • Step 2: The Scrum Master breaks it down into smaller pieces known as Sprints that result in a more efficient product lifecycle 

Companies that use Agile Scrum methodologies effectively can produce a viable deliverable in two to four weeks. The Scrum Master is at the heart of everything, coordinating project activities with business goals.

What is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master’s role helps project teams achieve their goals. They are responsible for ensuring the team and product function as they should and that all necessary work is completed on time. He/she supervises the Scrum and development team. They understand Agile methodology and Scrum, so they can educate others. They also serve as a buffer between the Scrum team and the Product Owner, helping to maintain a safe environment by resolving conflicts.

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What is a Scrum Master’s Responsibilities

scrum master responsibilities

Now that we’ve looked at what is a Scrum Master role, let’s look at their responsibilities. A person in this role ensures that all team members work together as a cohesive unit. The role of a scrum master differs depending on what kind of project they’re working on, but they’re generally responsible for:

  • Facilitating meetings between teams or individuals who may not know each other very well (this could be another team or just one person)
  • Ensuring everyone understands what they need to do so they can move forward as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure that the team is working productively
  • Facilitate communication
  • Ensure that the team focuses on the requisite goals
  • Help them focus on the appropriate tasks by ensuring they understand what’s important and how to do their jobs well
  • Conduct a daily Scrum meeting between the team and project manager
  • Help team members learn new skills through training sessions

For this role, the team needs someone who can communicate effectively with stakeholders such as clients or executives who may not be directly involved in the project at hand. They should also have good problem-solving skills to devise solutions when things go wrong during an iteration or sprint cycle. Finally, working well under pressure is essential since often there won’t be enough time between iterations/Sprints — you’ll also need quick thinking abilities!

The Importance of a Scrum Master

Scrum masters can be a tremendous asset to any team they join. They are the facilitators of Scrum and are responsible for ensuring the team follows best practices as well as keeping them on track while also giving them feedback on how they can improve their process. People in this role are a crucial part of Agile teams and can see projects to completion. They remove impediments to the team’s progress and ensure all members work towards the same goal. 

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How is the Scrum Framework Designed?

In most Scrum teams, three roles are assigned: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Developers.

  • The Scrum Master facilitates open communication and coaching to help drive the team’s performance
  • The Product Owner prioritizes features, manages the product backlog, and incorporates stakeholder feedback into the development process
  • The development team is in charge of completing the work assigned by the Product Owner

Who Needs a Scrum Master?

do you need a scrum masterAccording to Indeed, a Scrum Master makes $104,734 per year in the US. With the demand for Scrum teams rising, the following initiatives seek scrum masters by association:

  • Software development
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial services
  • Product development
  • Government institutions
  • Consulting agencies

How to Become a Scrum Master

There are many ways to get appointed to this position, such as:

  • Getting certified
  • Enhancing necessary soft and technical skills
  • Networking and finding a mentor
  • Applying for Scrum Master roles

Learn how to become a scrum master in detail here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Difference Between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager?

Their focus is the primary distinction between a Scrum Master and a project manager. The latter is primarily concerned with the project’s outcome, while the former focuses on the team, taking steps to ensure the success of the team and individual team members.

2. What are the Top Soft Skills of a Scrum Master?

For this role, one should have the following soft skills:

  • Organizational skills to manage multiple tasks, meetings, resources, and priorities
  • Communication skills to collaborate with team members and stakeholders effectively
  • Problem-solving abilities 
  • Adaptability to make changes as needed to achieve the best possible result
  • Motivational skills to bring out the best in your team members to increase productivity

3. Does a Scrum Master Need to Know Coding Languages?

No, the knowledge of coding languages is not a prerequisite for this role.

4. What are the Top Technical Skills of a Scrum Master?

For this role, you should be well-versed in business analysis, software development, and management.

A Scrum Master is vital in every Agile team. They are responsible for helping the team stay on track, so finding a level-headed one is essential to ensure a project’s success. If you’re aspiring for this role and want to enhance your soft and technical skills, check out online product courses from Emeritus!

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

About the Author

Senior Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Gauri has found that the upside of being a writer and a scissor-happy copy editor is a rather constant, even paranoid, eye on her own work—and a healthy aversion to complacency. As a professional content creator for over a decade, she has spent time writing (and editing) design, architecture, and lifestyle stories, as well as corporate content, brochures, ads, and websites, among other genres. Her stint with Emeritus has opened an exciting and challenging avenue of education to explore and proves what she already knows—you’re really never done learning.
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