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Friday, May 3, 2013

Business analyst in agile Software development 4: Scrum Master

Some business analysts are more comfortable with the soft skills than others, soft skills like conversation, elicitation, mediation, negotiation, influence, reading body language, listening and so forth.  If you are such a business analyst and perhaps are not into defining requirements and dealing with authority but would rather deal directly and continuously with people, then perhaps the role of Scrum Master or Agile Coach is for you. According to the Scrum Guide (2011) by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the Scrum Master serves three roles: the Product Owner, the development team, and the organization.  Specifically, "The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules. The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team."  And, "The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team."
This requires a great deal of influence skills and communication skills. one of the primary duties of the Scrum Master is removing impediments or obstacles to the development team's progress.  This requires analysis and problem solving.  It also requires a good sense of organizational politics.
Scrum Masters in the teams I have seen generally facilitate most of the meetings, including the Daily Stand Up, and represent the team and the product owner to management.  Similar to the business analyst, the Scrum Master has no authority of his or her own so must make things happen through influence and political skill.  Many business analysts have moved in the direction of the Scrum Master. Some work as part time Scrum Master, and others are full time on one or more teams. Scrum Master, certified or not, is a positive step in an agile environment where the position of business analyst is no longer welcome.