Scrum masters are in charge helping an organisation manage their workflow. Simply put, the scrum framework aims to improve the effectiveness of professional teams by segmenting the work process into smaller increments.
The scrum framework and the Scaled Agile Framework are largely used in software development. However, they are also used in various other fields like marketing, sales and even the automotive industry.
Scrum master certification helps you better understand the role of a scrum master within the context of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). With an internationally recognised SAFe scrum master certification, you’re letting your potential employers know that you are capable of leading scrum teams and product owners through a complex project.
To help you understand the value of scrum master certification, we will take an in-depth look at what the scrum process is, the role of the scrum master and how scrum can help an organisation. At the end, we will also take a look at how you can become a certified scrum master.
The scrum framework aims to replace the traditional ‘waterfall’ method. For the sake of simplicity, we will take a look at both of these frameworks in the context of developing a software product.
In the waterfall model, a development team must plan the project before any sort of work begins. This stage can take several months to complete as it must cover all the feature sets of the needed product. By the time the development team creates a shippable product, it’s likely that consumer behaviours and the relevant technology have changed. This can lead to certain features of the finished product becoming obsolete.
In contrast, the scrum framework segments the entire development process into smaller increments called ‘sprints’. A sprint typically lasts one to three weeks. It involves planning a smaller feature set, building the feature set, testing and reviewing it, and then shipping it to end consumers. This process is repeated until the entirety of the product is developed.
The main advantage of this approach is that the team can adapt to changes in between sprints. Additionally, by shipping different versions of a product at the end of each increment, they can get valuable consumer feedback before the start of the next sprint.
A scrum master is responsible for making sure that this process runs as smoothly as possible. Though they are not generally involved in the development of the product, they are integral to the advancement of the development process.
What does a scrum master do?
The main job of a scrum master is to lead a team through the entire scrum process. The three major ceremonies in the scrum framework include sprint planning, daily scrum meetings and sprint reviews. The scrum master also has to manage two major parties within a team: the product owner and the scrum team. The product owner decides what feature sets the product needs while the scrum team creates said product.
The sprint planning is where the product owner decides which feature sets will be needed in a particular sprint. Every feature set is usually listed in an scrum artifact called a product backlog. Prioritised feature sets will be placed into a separate artifact called the sprint backlog. Since the nature of the project will evolve as time goes on, these backlogs will have to change on a regular basis. To ensure that the project is on track, the scrum master must help the product owner and the scrum team manage these changing backlogs.
The daily scrum meeting is where the team discusses what they completed on the previous day and what they’ll be working on next. More importantly, this is the meeting where they can tell the scrum master about obstacles that lay in the way of progress. These obstacles might include unnecessary meetings, lengthy approval processes and slow interdepartmental communication. The scrum master is tasked with removing these obstacles and ensuring that the scrum team is not restricted in any way.
Lastly, there’s the sprint review. This is where the scrum team presents the finished feature set to the product owner. Depending on this review, the owner will decide whether or not to ship the product. Through a retrospective, the scrum team and the scrum master will then discuss what they can improve on in the next sprint.
Additionally, the scrum master might have to update stakeholders on the state of the project. They can do this by presenting the previously mentioned backlogs. Burndown charts, an artifact that shows the progress of a sprint, are also commonly used to show stakeholders where the project is headed.
How to become a scrum master
The best way to become a scrum master is to get a SAFe Scrum Master certification. This certification requires you to complete a two-day course as well as an exam.
During those two days you will gain an overall understanding of scrum theory as well as Scaled Agile principles. By the end of the course, you should be able to:
- Organise and run scrum ceremonies and events
- Coach scrum and agile teams through the relevant processes
- Understand Program Increment and Iterative execution
- Assist teams with scrum implementation
SAFe certification also goes beyond the fundamentals of scrum practices. It will also help you understand how scrum fits into a SAFe enterprise, giving you more of a complete understanding of the agile mindset.
Once you receive the certification, you will also get:
- A certificate of completion and a verifiable digital badge
- A one-year membership in the SAFe Community Platform to help you with further agile learning and development
Please note that, depending on the provider, the nature of the course might differ.
Hopefully, this gave you a better idea of what’s involved in being a certified scrum master. Even if you don’t work in software development, there is a lot to be learned from the Agile mindset. With the help of Agile frameworks, businesses will be able to adapt to inevitable changes in their respective industries. This adaptability will then enable them to meet their goals more consistently and more efficiently.