What is the Role of a Scrum Master?
Learn about the role of a scrum master, as Tech Team Lead, Toni Bonser describes how it helps keep the balance and maximizes productivity within teams.
At Walr, we are committed to the ethos, ‘Delight Through Dedication’. Our aim is to deliver exceptional service to our clients by leveraging our expertise in research, and utilizing our powerful, proprietary technology.
In order to build brilliant products that enhance our service, we need a tech team that is firing on all cylinders, working towards the same goal. This requires an understanding and appreciation of the different way teams’ work. One methodology that facilitates this best, (in my opinion, at least!) is scrum.
In this blog, I’ll break down how my role as scrum master helps keep the balance and maximizes how the team spend their time.
The Differences Between Product Owners and Developers
In the world of software development, there are two key players: product owners and developers. Within a business, they are united under a common purpose – to craft top-quality, revenue-generating products. Yet, how they achieve this ‘North Star’ often involves completely different approaches.
Product owners are the visionaries, the architects of a business’ future. Their days are often packed with gathering requirements, creating concepts, pitching ideas, persuading stakeholders, and securing approvals. They hop between meetings, workshops, and spontaneous conversations with everyone from project executives to senior leaders.
Their main mission: deliver the next great feature or tool that will expand the organization’s client base and, in turn, generate revenue.
However, product owners cannot turn these grand visions into reality by themselves. This is where developers come in.
Developers form the bedrock of any software organization, serving as builders, maintainers, scalers, and custodians of the product’s infrastructure. Their days involve long hours of ‘deep focus’ work, intense concentration, and collaborative problem-solving with their peers. They don’t solely strive to create the latest revenue-generating product; they also bear the responsibility of keeping existing products in perfect working order.
So, on the one hand you have the visionary that is always thinking of the next innovation; on the other, you have the trusty guardian of the product itself. How do you harmonize these differing priorities and achieve that common goal – to create outstanding, revenue-driving products?
This is where a scrum master comes in.
The Role of a Scrum Master
The scrum master is the bridge between product owners and developers. They understand the distinct operating styles, priorities, and challenges that each role faces. They act as mediators to foster productive working relationships.
A lot of this work centres around how to protect and maximize time.
Although it is paramount developers understand the product’s specifications, their work demands uninterrupted concentration. Meetings are, therefore, a particularly sensitive tightrope.
It is a necessity that product owners and developers directly engage in discussions, problem-solving and strategizing. Yet, the challenge lies in determining when these interactions should occur, how frequently, and for how long. In recognizing the value of time, scrum masters strive to minimize meetings and maximize development hours, whilst still ensuring productive collaboration.
Scrum masters ‘gatekeep’ a developer’s calendar, to schedule meetings at optimal times – typically at the beginning or end of the day. They establish regular meeting frequencies and durations, allowing developers to plan their work effectively. For example, multiple developer meetings are often clustered within one half of the day, to leave the other half free for focused development work.
How Scrum Methodology Works in Practice
At Walr, we’ve implemented scrum teams that each have one dedicated product owner. These teams hold a weekly “Product owner/developer consultation” meeting, which is the cornerstone of their collaboration. During these sessions, product owners present new specs for upcoming months, engaging developers for feedback, questions, and advice on feasibility. Armed with insights from these meetings, product owners refine their specs before scheduling builds.
Developers, too, have their sacred “Story time” meetings. A weekly opportunity for them to plan, size, and strategize the delivery of upcoming user stories. If the need arises, developers have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to request additional time with product owners to elicit further requirements.
The Importance of Scrum Masters Behind the Scenes
So, if developers and product owners have their own cadence of meetings in place, with a positive working relationship, what is the ongoing value of a scrum master?
Once meetings have been scheduled, scrum masters have a continuous role in standing guard, shielding developers from external interruptions. Setting clear boundaries is paramount, and relentless communication of these boundaries is a crucial aspect of the position.
By understanding the unique needs of both sides and facilitating effective collaboration, the scrum master ensures the business’ vision becomes a reality and there is a productive working relationship.
The importance in mediating this relationship cannot be overstated. Through careful scheduling, clear communication, and a commitment to protecting developers’ concentration, the scrum master enables two vital teams to work together seamlessly, ultimately leading the company toward its goals of creating exceptional products and thriving in a competitive market.
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