Challenges faced by a Scrum Master

November 6, 2013

Role of a Scrum Master includes facilitating a conducive work environment for the Scrum Team, guiding and teaching Scrum practices to everyone involved in the project and clearing impediments for the team. Apart from this he /she also ensure that Scrum processes are being followed.

The Scrum Master role is very different from the role played by the Project Manager in a traditional Waterfall model of project management. The Project Manager works as a manager or leader for the project. The Scrum Master only works as a facilitator and he or she is at the same hierarchical level as anyone else in the Scrum Team. Any person from the Scrum Team who learns how to facilitate Scrum projects can become the Scrum Master for a project or for a Sprint.

Now let’s see what are the challenges faced by a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master’s wide and open ended scope of Roles and Responsibilities pose several difficulties. They include handling of any exceptions that may arise. Having a subjective and open ended job description creates uncertainty and is very challenging. Prioritizing what should be done first and what can be done later is difficult.

In many organizations, Scrum is implemented project wise and during this transition phase there would be people in the Senior and Middle Management who firmly believe in the traditional ways of getting things done. Managing these unrealistic expectations of management becomes a challenge for the Scrum Master who also has to fulfil the expectations of the Scrum Team. At times this leaves him / her little time to devote to coaching and guiding the Scrum Team on Scrum principles, processes and aspects.

Time-boxing the Daily Standup Meeting to 15 minutes is an everyday challenge for most Scrum Masters. Daily Standup Meeting is conducted only to get answers to the following three questions from Scrum Team, but, often the meeting goes into discussion of small things in detail.

Being a facilitator, Scrum Master has an added responsibility of managing conflicts in Scrum Team, if any. Conflict management is not easy, especially, when it is between the members of the same Scrum Team.

Resisting expectations that the Scrum Master will be a Project Manager is another important challenge. The Scrum Master’s role is very different than a Project Manager’s. But in some organizations the Scrum Master is expected to do a Project Manager’s job which can lead to project failure. Scrum Teams are required to be Self-organized and not controlled by the Scrum Master. His job is to ensure a conducive work environment and help the team remove impediments.

A nightmare for any Scrum master is a Scrum Team not collocated. It may not always happen that the entire Scrum Team sits in the same office. In such cases, the Scrum Master’s job becomes even more difficult. It’s not easy to build a team culture and ensure uniform practices when some members of the team are elsewhere. It’s not ideal to try solving a team member’s problem via Skype or WebEx. If the time zones are too different, even scheduling meetings can be very challenging.


Here is a Great Article about Being an effective Scrum Master


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