You may have heard the term Scrum and derivatives like Scrum Master and Product Owner get thrown around a lot lately. That’s because this popular framework, based on Agile methodologies, is gaining traction among companies in different industries Many professionals are now signing up to get Scrum Master certifications to make them more marketable to companies that use this framework.
Scrum is the most popular form of Agile. A 2021 report titled “the State of Agile” showed that 94% of respondents had at least some teams in their company that used Agile methodologies. Of these, 66% relied on Scrum, so it is, by far, the most widely adopted form of Agile.
In the simplest terms, Scrum is a project framework meant to maximize efficiency in the workplace. The Product Owner or Scrum Master creates a backlog of tasks and then prioritizes and selects tasks for the team to work on. Each task, known as a “sprint,” is completed, and the team and other stakeholders review the results and decide how to proceed with the next sprint. This incremental process creates a cycle that has continuous feedback and constant opportunity for improvement.
Companies that want to use this type of flexible framework may prefer to hire or promote people who are familiar with Scrum and have the specific skills necessary to oversee the process.
Gaining skills that will help you succeed as a Scrum Master can involve gaining on-the-job experience, earning an industry certification, or taking professional development courses to hone specific skills.
1. Project management
Scrum Masters organize and oversee projects, and they need to make decisions about the processes, assignments, and goals for each sprint. In many instances, there will be time and budget constraints, so if you are in charge, you will have to plan accordingly.
Project manager courses are available to help you learn specific aspects of project management, such as budgeting, risk management, and leadership. If you have experience working within the Scrum framework, project management knowledge could help you pursue a leadership role.
2. Network management
Network management involves overseeing a data network, ensuring devices are connected, handling security, and authenticating and authorizing users.
If you end up being a Scrum Master for a company that uses cloud computing, it will help to have technical knowledge about how network management works. Even if you have IT specialists to handle the details, knowing the basics can help with sprint planning and ensuring everyone on the team is properly connected. Also, you can take care of basic network administration without having to wait for someone from IT to do it for you.
Network administration and management is typically the realm of IT professionals, but even if you lack an IT degree, you can learn the basics through online continuing education or professional development courses. These will provide you with enough knowledge to handle basic network management tasks.
3. Data analysis
Data analysis focuses on collecting and analyzing information and using it to make decisions about strategy, processes, or goals. Most businesses, regardless of their industry, employ data analysis on some level. Scrum teams can rely on data to help assess the performance of each sprint and select which goals to pursue during subsequent sprints.
Scrum Masters and other decision-makers on the team will use some form of data analysis to assess performance. If you can access and organize information, you can extract more value out of it and gain insights that will help make management and decision processes easier. Data analytics courses are available online, and you can also learn to use data analytics tools, such as RStudio, SQL consoles, or business intelligence tools like datapine.
4. Software development
Scrum works for a variety of project types, but it is often applied to software development. If you want to work as a Scrum Master, chances are high that you will end up overseeing a team of software developers.
Scrum Masters do not necessarily need lots of technical skills because their focus is on applying the methodology, not handling the coding and testing. However, being able to speak the developer’s language can certainly help.
Some Scrum Masters start as software developers. Even if you do not have a coding background, you can start by learning basic languages, such as Python, C++, SQL, or JAVA. Coding bootcamps and certificate programs are helpful, as well.
If you learn on your own, certification can help you prove your skills. For example, you could get a vendor-neutral certification from the Python Institute or Java certification from Oracle.
Cybersecurity is another field that uses Scrum often. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, with hackers always coming up with the next way to circumvent current security measures.
Cybersecurity teams will therefore benefit from the adaptability and speed of the Scrum approach. Scrum Masters who know cybersecurity can qualify for specialized positions and gain the respect of team members who are skilled in the field.
Since cybersecurity is such an in-demand specialty, there are dozens of reputable industry certifications that you could try to obtain to demonstrate your expertise. For example, you could become a Certified Ethical Hacker or a Systems Security Certified Practitioner.
6. Conflict resolution
Scrum teams may be small, but every group has conflicts. Because of the fast pace required by this framework, you need to deal with disagreements quickly and ensure everyone can work as a cohesive unit.
Team members may have different ideas, methods, or skill sets, and they may have difficulty working with others who do not share their professional approaches or abilities. A Scrum Master needs to handle any disagreements so that they do not affect performance or cause employees with the necessary skills to leave.
Most managers learn conflict resolution through work experience, but there are online courses and management-level professional development programs that delve into the skills needed for overcoming workplace disagreements.
Leadership skills are essential for Scrum Product Owners and Scrum Masters. While a management background may prove helpful in these positions, it is not always necessary.
Scrum leaders often develop different styles of oversight. Since the focus is always on getting the best possible performance out of the team, Product Owners and Scrum Masters with technical knowledge can serve as coaches or motivators. Often, a servant-leader approach is effective. This management style focuses on helping each team member get the resources, motivation, and support they need to complete their tasks for each sprint. This approach gives specialists the autonomy to complete their work. Research has shown that this leadership style brings better results and performance and also helps with employee retention.
8. Risk management
Scrum is designed to limit risk by allowing a team to adapt and change the approach after each sprint. While risk mitigation is a major advantage for this framework, the Scrum Master or Product Owner needs to ensure that it happens.
Risk management certification and training can vary by industry. The Risk Management Society offers professional certification, and project management programs also provide insights into how to deal with risk.
9. Stakeholder management
Products have multiple stakeholders, who could be clients, executives, or other members of a company. Effective stakeholder management means knowing how to handle people who have low interest in the project and those who have the clout to affect the project outcome. A Scrum Product Owner is responsible for acting as a liaison between stakeholders and the team, and they need to ensure that competing interests do not derail the project.
Stakeholder management requires critical thinking and communication skills, which you can develop through professional experience. Real-world experience is essential for success in this area because relationships with stakeholders can be quite nuanced and require insights gained from similar situations in the past.
10. Agile methodology
You cannot succeed as a Scrum Master without first understanding Agile methodology. Agile is a mindset, while Scrum is a framework that implements this mindset. Agile methodology focuses on making incremental improvements and constantly reviewing the product and the process. Scrum takes these ideas and puts them in a workable framework any team can adopt.