Your Scrum Master Journey

What is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is a role in the Scrum Framework in who is responsible for all process-oriented aspects of the scrum team. A Scrum Master is primarily responsible for the implementation and optimization of processes and the working methods within the Scrum Team and beyond – i.e. the interfaces of the team. This means that as a Scrum Master, you are a so-called Servant Leader, you have a lot of responsibility for yourself, the team and the organization.

In the following we not only provide you with a role description, but we will guide you step by step through the exciting tasks of this important Scrum Team member. Maybe the role is something for you and you realize that you have the perfect qualifications for a Scrum Master. We can then provide you with the necessary Scrum knowledge and further reading.

The ScrumMaster Journey at Agile Academy

1

The Beginning of your Scrum Master Journey.

Certified ScrumMaster®

2

For Scrum Masters with Working Experience.

Advanced Certified ScrumMaster

3

Become a Leader.

Certified Scrum Professional®-ScrumMaster

TBD

Skills

What skills should a Scrum Master have?

Due to the tasks and main activities of a Scrum Master, which will be described later, there are skills that help in the daily work and facilitate a good teamwork.

Depending on the area of responsibility and thematic focus, a Scrum Master needs technical and human qualifications that make the work much easier.

General social and empirical skills that every Scrum Master should have are:

Scrum Master skills

Social Skills

  • Respect
  • Empathic ability
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility
  • Passion
  • Enthusiasm

Scrum Master skills

Empirical Skills

  • Analytical know-how
  • Confident appearance
  • Strong communication skills
  • Knowledge of human nature
  • Statistical knowledge
  • Moderation techniques
  • Mediation skills

Tasks

Which tasks does a Scrum Master have?

The tasks of a Scrum Master are very diverse and usually change significantly over time. Because process optimization and process monitoring is one of the most important activities, the focus of the activity always changes when there are changes in the team or the company, for example.

The term “Servant Leader” is often used for the Scrum Master, because the needs of others are in the foreground and the serving leader listens to the concerns of the team in the first place and tries to lead the team systematically towards more and more self-organization. A widespread quote in this context is:

“Servant Leaders lead by serving and serve by leading”.

The Scrum Master thus serves the other roles such as Product Owner, Development Team, Stakeholder and Organization. Depending on who is interacting with, the tasks of the Scrum Master even change several times a day.

All in all, the following tasks arise which Scrum Master has to face again and again and which they work on daily:

  • Recognizing obstacles that disturb the Scrum team with the goal to solve them.
  • Enable the team members to recognize and remove obstacles themselves
  • Prevent interruptions from the outside and stand protectively in front of the team
  • Mediation between the various interest groups: product owner, development team, stakeholders and colleagues
  • Solving internal and external conflicts within the team, applying of team building measures
  • Systematic coaching of the Scrum Team in agile methods, the Scrum Framework itself but also beyond that e.g. Kanban and Design Thinking
  • Promotion of problem-solving and self-organisation skills among team members and, if necessary, in the organisation
  • Mentoring of the team members in procedural matters
  • Analysis and evaluation of the performance of the team
  • Constant help in the further development and motivation of the team members
  • Administrative / methodical tasks in the Scrum process as well as monitoring the adherence to Sprint goals
  • Promoting cohesion and support within the team and empathising with the team members
  • Introduction of the Scrum Framework in the company and work on the agile transformation and the necessary organizational changes
  • Your own further development as a Scrum Master, because you have to live the continuous learning and working on yourself

What does the Scrum Master not do?

From the daily tasks and the desired skills you can see what a Scrum Master is not doing or what is not part of his daily work. By focusing on the processes it is clear that the Scrum Master has no authority in product decisions. These are exclusively reserved for the Product Owner.

A Scrum Master is also not just a project manager who is concerned with deadlines or quality assurance. These typical project tasks migrate into the team and thus strengthen the commitment of the individual team members. Within the Scrum Team such activities are more the responsibility of the team and partly the Product Owner.

This separation of powers in the Scrum Framework ensures that there are clear structures and distribution of tasks. In addition, the process-optimized focus of the Scrum Master is an important support in the further development of the organization on the way to a holistic agile transformation.

Requirements

What are the Requirements for a Scrum Master?

The support of teammates is, as the name suggests, the main requirement for the Servant Leader. The requirements and organizational levels are manifold in this area.

The requirements range from the preparation and follow-up of meetings or Scrum Rituals, to explaining the Scrum Framework to other teams, departments and the organization, to protecting the team from external influences.

Especially the latter are a broad field in which a good Scrum Master can contribute in many ways. An improvement of the interaction between team and organization should be promoted as well as the training of the whole company in agile issues.

The ability to network within the company across teams and hierarchy levels is therefore one of the most significant and important social requirements that the role of a Scrum Master must fulfill.

Certification

What Certifications are Available?

There are currently two certifications that are recognized worldwide and are therefore often explicitly requested in job advertisements. These certificates are the “Certified ScrumMaster®️ (CSM)” from the ScrumAlliance, the largest agile organization with about 1 million members, and the “Professional Scrum Master (PSM)” from Scrum.org with about 200,000 members.

The number of members is mainly explained by the orientation of these two organizations. While Scrum.org has an absolute focus on software development (recognizable by the claim: “A world in which all software developers love their work”), the ScrumAlliance’s certification is industry-independent. The focus is on a holistic education. Thus, the goal of the ScrumAlliance is more ambitious with: “Transform the World of Work” and, above all, detached from a single industry.

Especially if you don’t see your future exclusively in the software industry, but you can also imagine a Scrum Master job in hardware development or business areas such as HR, marketing or BI, it is worthwhile to get certified via the much larger and also more generally recognized ScrumAlliance.

In addition, the training opportunities and further development options from Scrum Master to Advanced Scrum Master, Agile Coach or Agile Leader are much easier here.

How do I become a certified Scrum Master?

Usually there are two- and three-day trainings for prospective Scrum Masters. While the three day courses go much deeper into the relevant topics and prepare the participants for the following exam, the two day courses usually require previous knowledge and are timed very quickly, which means that the exchange among the participants and questions are kept shorter.

The 3-day trainings for the Scrum Master certification consist of the introduction to Scrum and the Scrum Guide, the core competencies for Scrum Master and the cooperation with the other roles in the Scrum Framework. In addition, some providers at Agile Academy, such as the Scrum Academy, also offer a short introduction to Kanban as part of their 3-day courses.

The shorter seminars, on the other hand, are usually limited to a short overview of the Scrum framework and the work within the artifacts and rituals.

All providers and trainings are concluded with a written exam in the case of the Scrum Master. But there are differences due to the different orientations of the two certification providers. With the ScrumAlliance you have to answer 35 questions at least 69% correctly in 60 minutes, while at Scrum.org you have to answer 80 questions in 60 minutes at 85% correctly.

Participation in the training and passing the test finally results in a certification as a Scrum Master of the respective organization.

Afterwards the certification is valid for two years with the ScrumAlliance. At Scrum.org there is no obligation to recertify. But since many employers value a certification that was issued not more than two years ago, this is not necessarily an added value.

While you would have to repeat the test and/or course at Scrum.org, the ScrumAlliance offers various, almost free options for recertification, e.g. participation in so-called User Groups and the attendance of at least two Agile100 Events (That are free of charge for Agile Academy Alumni).

Your Scrum Master Journey

What makes a good Scrum Master?

The certification alone does not make you a good Scrum Master! It is important that you acquire the skills you need for your daily work. Practical experience helps you to apply the basic skills you have learned.

Those who are not able to gain the necessary practical experience in their company should make use of the many meetups, conferences and “Scrum tables” that are available in many cities and also virtually. The more one deals with the topics “agile”, “Scrum” and “Leadership”, the greater the exchange with like-minded people.

The practical insights into other companies also help to transfer challenges to your own company or team. – And the good thing about it: most of these opportunities are offering the so-called Scrum Education Units (SEUs), which you need to renew your certification with the ScrumAlliance!

How do I become a Scrum Master?

The ways to become a Scrum Master are as varied as the tasks and skills that are required. Since Scrum has its origins in software development, many Scrum Masters have a background in this area as well. However, with the spread of Scrum in various business areas, the educational and professional careers of Scrum Masters become more heterogeneous.

More important than the past career is that you have to be willing to take responsibility for the Scrum process. This means that you have to be a very solution-oriented person who recognizes emerging conflicts early and is ready to proactively tackle them to get them out of the way.

As a mediating and supporting role, the Scrum Master cannot be compared to a Manager. Whoever wants to exercise formal power or make hierarchical decisions will certainly not be happy in the role of a Scrum Master.

Every Scrum Master should – as the name suggests – be a Master of Scrum. In other words, you have to deal intensively with the framework and the objectives in order to be able to communicate this to others.

The ScrumMaster Journey at Agile Academy

1

The Beginning of your Scrum Master Journey.

Certified ScrumMaster®

2

For Scrum Masters with Working Experience

Advanced Certified ScrumMaster

3

Become a Leader.

Certified Scrum Professional®-ScrumMaster

TBD

Income

How much does a Scrum Master earn?

This is not an easy question. Depending on previous education, experience and industry, the salary can vary considerably, as in other jobs. If you look at the Scrum Master salary in relevant job boards and salary reports like job boards, the yearly gross salary average within Germany is usually between 55 – 65,000 Euros. However, it should be noted that this is an average from all industries and years of activity of the Scrum Masters surveyed. In addition, a closer look usually reveals even greater regional fluctuations for similar qualifications.

However, because it is mainly social factors and less the educational background that decides whether someone is or can become a good Scrum Master, the salaries are less often determined by the school or university degree. You can find a very comprehensive study about this here:

Development

How do I improve my agile skills?

In summary it can be said that a good Scrum Master always has a very full daily schedule. Depending on the agile status of the organization these activities are first related to the team processes and in later stages to the organizational and business processes. While the initial focus is on education, mediation, moderation and the self-organization of the team, these activities can be scaled as desired and extended to other areas.

Therefore there is not “the one” skill that a Scrum Master should improve. Rather, there should be an awareness of which skills can be used to deliver better results. During a “storming phase” (Tuckman Model), in which many conflicts can occur, the mediation and moderation skills should be used and if necessary deepened in a further training, while in quieter times the agile transformation in the company can be pushed forward. Whether and to what extent process-related seminars such as Scrum@Scale or Lean Agile Procurement help in this process is left up to the Scrum Master in his respective situation.

How can I develop as a Scrum Master?

Instead of a recertification there are various possibilities for further education depending on your interests. Often experienced Scrum Masters tend to pursue a career as an Agile Coach and to shift the focus from team development to organizational development. Less often they also change roles and become product owners. Some Scrum Masters are also aiming for the Agile Leadership certification, because they can also accompany and support the agile transformation in the company.

Mostly, however, the Certified Advanced ScrumMaster® Training is chosen as a professional specialization. Here Scrum Masters with at least one year of practical experience get the chance to deal with the process challenges of their role in more depth.

In addition, there is also the possibility of thematic trainings, which refer to specific parts of the Scrum Master activities. These include training in Kanban, NLP, DesignThinking, Scrum@Scale or Scrum for Hardware.

No matter which career and further education is chosen, the job of a Scrum Master is and remains a very diversified field.

Which books should I read?

In addition to the generally known basic literature and various blogs or online magazines, there are also books that we within the Agile Academy send to participants before the course begins. These are both well-known and smaller publishers, which we would like to introduce here in a small selection if you are considering becoming a Scrum Master.

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We have put together a large collection of interesting articles about the Scrum Master for you. If you are interested in the Scrum Master role, you are in the right place – no matter if you are just starting out or want to get some fresh ideas.

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We accompany you on your agile journey!

In addition to the certified trainings of the Scrum Master Journey, we offer various in-depth courses that help you to be an even better Servant Leader for your team in different everyday situations as a Scrum Master.

Agile Academy

Advanced courses for the ScrumMaster Journey

We have put together a large collection of interesting articles about Scrum Master for you. If you are interested in the Scrum Master role, you are in the right place – no matter if you are just starting out or if you want to get fresh ideas.

Kanban Trainings

This two-part training enables you to obtain an internationally recognized certification as Kanban Management Professional (KMP). If you are a Scrum Master and work mainly with teams that apply the principles and practices of Kanban, participation in the beginner course (KSD) is useful. With the completion of the second course (KMP) you would then complete your certification.

Agile Retrospectives

For newcomers and experienced Scrum Masters the Retrospectives are an important ritual within the Scrum process. In our course “Agile Retrospectives” you will learn how an effective retrospective looks and works. From the theoretical basics to current case studies, you will learn in this one-day workshop how to design your retrospectives in a varied and goal-oriented way in the future.

Agile Fluency™ Simulation

The Agile Fluency Simulation is a two-day workshop with the goal to communicate the advantages and disadvantages of agile methods to teams in a playful way. As a physical game, the training provides a comprehensive, interactive learning platform for its participants. It can be used as an individual training or as an effective coaching tool in larger trainings to teach agile methods.