I've had a lot of individuals ask me how to get started as a scrum master and how to go about working with teams. So I thought it be best to try to answer these questions in one post.
Scrum Master RoleBefore I start lets go over what a scrum master is. The scrum master is known as the servant leader. They are the teams facilitator, owner of the scrum framework, and part of the team. They aren't Project Managers. A Scrum Master works closely with the team to help them grow, remove impediments, and keep them continuously adapting. I recommend you read through the scrum guide to get a full understanding of what scrum is and your role.
Getting StartedTo answer how you can get started as a scrum master, I recommend getting certified. Getting a certification that proves you have a mastery of scrum. Certification gives you credibility, specially if you don't have the experience. Now let me warn you, not all certifications are equal. Here are your choices:
Professional Scrum MasterThis certification is designed by co-founder of Scrum Ken Schwaber to set you apart and to prove your mastery. Passing this certification demonstrates you have a fundamental level of understanding. The PSM I certificate holders not only prove that they understand Scrum as described in the Scrum Guide, but that they can apply Scrum concepts. PSM II holders prove that they can effectively apply Scrum in complex, real-world situations. You can assess your understanding free of charge at scrum.org In my opinion this is now the best indicator of your scrum understanding and extremely cost effective if you decide to study for this online and take the exam at scrum.org. The cost of this two day training event could run you approximately $1,200. [the_ad id="25173"]
Certified Scrum MasterThis certification was available before Ken Schwaber's PSM, and is widely known. The Certified Scrum Master from the Scrum Alliance is also a two day training event where you will learn the basics of scrum, its roles and responsibilities. The Scrum Alliance is the certifying board, you must take the course from a Certified Scrum Trainer to be able to take the online exam. These courses can run approximately from $1,200.00 to $1,300.00. This does not have an online self study option. [optin-monster-shortcode id="fjdxrzpbpm4zayymauhb"]
Scrum Master CertifiedThis certification is growing in popularity but is not as well know as the two above. The certifying body is ScrumStudy. There approach is similar to the PMI's PMBOK. This certification can be earned through self pace study, virtual or onsite training events. They can run anywhere from $500.00-$1,300.00.
Agile Project Management CertificationICAgile came out with the Agile Project Management Certification, this is a good certification if you don't want to concentrate on Scrum. With this certification you can work as an Agile Project Manager, it focuses on "equipping the learner with strategies and techniques for successful Lean and Agile project implementation", but doesn't prove mastery of Scrum . It is a good way to obtain an understanding of other Agile practices such as Lean, and Kanban. These courses range from $1,200.00 to $1,895.00.
Gain ExperienceNow that you are certified, its time to get your feet wet! Start practicing everything you learned, take a baby step approach. Go slow and keeping reviewing. If you have a team or you are part of a team, here are some steps I recommend:
Step 1: Get your team to by inSpeak to your team or manager and let them know you're trying to make a personal transition to be a Scrum Master and you would like their support. If your team or manager don't know what Scrum is, be ready to educate them.
Step 2: VolunteerIf your organization is already an Agile environment or transitioning, jump in and volunteer to take part in the transition. This will get you the exposure you need. If you don't have a team to practice with, the Project Management Institute offers volunteer opportunities, take advantage of this. See if there is an agile project you can help with.
Step 3: Don't try to do it alone!Connect with as many Agile Coaches you can, and ask them questions. I usually take questions on this page, or my linkedin. There are no dumb questions, and any credible coach should be willing to answer your questions. The more you ask the more you learn.
Step 4: Don't stop learningBe an example of continuous improvement. Keep learning and experimenting. Yes, experimenting different techniques with your team. Not all teams are alike, what works with one team may not work with another. Experimenting is important for your growth.
What to do with your team?Now that you have a team to practice on. Start with reviewing your responsibilities. Here are the top four that were consistently overlooked by Scrum Masters I coached:
- There are two words in servant leader. Teams don't just need someone to facilitate, they also need someone to show them the way.
- It's your responsibility to help grow your team to self-organization
- Your authority comes from the Scrum Framework. You are the owner of the framework.
- You need to hold the team accountable to the decisions they make.