To explain what the Scrum Master role is in practice, it is necessary to first give a brief introduction to Agile management approaches.
The modern business environment is very dynamic. The problems that businesses have to solve are increasingly complex and require quick answers.
Economic, regulatory, and technological factors are changing at an increasing pace, as well as the tastes and needs of consumers and their orientation toward more and more new and advanced products and services. Markets and technology are developing and this results in a change in the supply, products, requirements of users, and the relationships between companies and their customers and partners.
The changes are not only external but also in the internal environment of the organizations and are related to a change in the requirements and qualification of the human resource, a change in the technologies used, or the implementation of completely new ones, etc. The financial and banking sectors are also affected by these changes and must continuously adapt to them to meet the needs of their customers and their strategies for development and sustainability.
Many banks have adopted new technologies to communicate with customers and to support their services, which cannot be achieved only by creating additional documentation and procedures and using outdated management and communication approaches and methods.
On the other hand, these changes also require the adoption of new approaches in organizations for managing people and processes, communication, design, development of new products, market strategies, and all other basic and accompanying activities, mandatory for the functioning of the business.
It is increasingly required high-value of products and services, but of course, at the same time, organizations strive to remain stable, and it is necessary to adapt quickly and effectively to the conditions.
In this regard, the classic principles of managing people, resources, processes, and projects do not always give the desired and expected results, because they are associated with too much time, and documentation, they hardly tolerate sudden changes, they are not so adaptable, because the environment changes too much dynamic.
In classical project and resource management, the direction of action is rather top-down, i.e. management gives orders, and the units in the hierarchy execute, while with the Scrum framework, the goal is to create feedback to senior management about how things are happening and how they can be improved. This is where agile approaches and management models such as Agile and Scrum come into play.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a management framework that allows the use and combination of different adaptive approaches in the organization and management of people and projects and aims to maintain stable productivity of participants and create higher business value of products and processes.
Scrum helps in finding flexible solutions to the complex problems of today’s environment. In this methodology, the classic style of management and distribution of responsibilities is absent, but rather each participant has a role and his initiative is encouraged, as well as effective interaction with others in the company. The teams and the people in them have a certain autonomy and at the same time are engaged and active in the overall development of the company. The main elements in Scrum are roles, events, artifacts, and rules. Reference: “The transition to the Scrum framework for teams and projects raises questions“, projectmanagement.news.blog/2023/02/12/the-transition-to-the-scrum-framework-for-teams-and-projects-raises-questions/
Events represent the various stages of product design and development in which specific things happen, so-called Sprints, events are team meetings, the planning process, etc. The artifacts represent the tools that are used to achieve the team’s goals and track the work at the various stages, as well as the concepts and definitions that indicate the statuses of the processes and tasks (Product backlog, Sprint backlog, Sprint goal, Product vision, etc. .).The rules are those that preserve the framework of this methodology and ensure compliance with its basic principles.
In Scrum, separate teams are formed with a limited number of participants, with each participant assuming a defined role, regardless of their position in the organization. In Scrum, there are no leaders in the classical sense of the term. Several main roles are defined: Project owner, Scrum master, and Development team.
The project owner, in general terms, represents the voice of the interested parties, the role that describes the user story and prioritizes the creation of the product or a given development, he gives the business logic and communicates with the stakeholders.
The development team includes the people who practically work on the creation of the product and usually includes developers, QA, designers, and others who are directly involved in the development. In this description, we will specifically pay attention to the third role, Scrum Master, which at first glance seems the most obscure, but is actually of extreme importance.
The Scrum Master keeps and maintains balance
The most important function of the Scrum Master is to keep and maintain balance in the teams during each stage of management and creation of business value, continuously.
The responsibility of the Scrum Master is to maintain sustainable productivity in the team and take care of the work and communication to go smoothly, to have an understanding between the participants, not to dominate certain roles and requests that harm the team and, accordingly, prevent the achievement of the desired result. Reference: “The Scrum Master introduces his colleagues to the Scrum processes and answers questions“, https://agileprojectmanagement.home.blog/2023/02/12/the-scrum-master-introduces-his-colleagues-to-the-scrum-processes-and-answers-questions/ This role monitors compliance with the rules of the Scrum framework, keeps people motivated, and protects them from external factors that interfere with their concentration and create tension and chaos.
The Scrum Master is a protector
The Scrum Master performs the function of a hidden protector and buffer between the teams and the external environment, and also as a mediator within the team itself, which is extremely important and key when working under pressure, short deadlines, a large number of requests, increased requirements and continuous changes in the middle. Read more about Scrum Master and Scrum Developers here: Professional Scrum Master vs Professional Scrum Developer, https://stc-montreal.org/professional-scrum-master-vs-professional-scrum-developer/
The key responsibilities of the Scrum Master are to take care of:
Removing obstacles in the work process
Assisting with meetings and events
Protecting teams from outside interference
Cooperation with the Product Owner
Guide Scrum participants on framework practices and rules, Source of the information: Scrum example team and projects scenarios
This role is not a leader, it takes care of the balance in the workplace and encourages others to improve their skills, be proactive, develop their potential, and keep them motivated and focused on work. In modern organizations, it is critical that HR is aware of the company’s goals and shares them so that it can develop sustainably in the desired direction.
Often employees in companies can especially be observed in banks with a classic management model and strict hierarchy, are poorly motivated, overly routine, and apathetic, which in turn does not generate innovative ideas and approaches or are overburdened and responsible for performing too many bureaucratic procedures, which leads to burnout and has extremely negative results for both people and the company.
The Scrum Master is exactly the element that takes care of avoiding these situations and strives to increase the productivity of employees, through the rules and approaches of Scrum.
To illustrate the place of the Scrum Master in the modern organization, we can compare it to the machine oil for the mechanical elements of the machine – it is not the main tool in the action and does not produce the product, nor does it power and drive the machine, but without it, it cannot function normally.
In conclusion, we would say that in the Scrum framework, people are important and each participant is valuable because of their skills and personality.
To make things happen more productively, people actively interact, work as a team, and embrace the organization’s core goals, which creates a more stable work environment and generates higher value for all stakeholders.
This methodology models fully or to a certain extent, they can be successfully applied in various spheres, including that of finance and banks, to reorganize their functioning and help them adapt more quickly and qualitatively to changes in the economic environment.