What does a Scrum Master do?

I’ve been getting this question more often lately. Usually the driver is:

We want to “go Scrum” but we don’t want to pay for the “cost of admission”. So for example, can one of our developers also be the Product Owner AND the Scrum Master? Those jobs can’t be that difficult that one person can’t do them all. Right?

Another part of the equation is smaller teams or organizations. They ask this question from a pure ‘mass’ point of view, in that they don’t have that many folks on the team.

While there are no perfect answers, I think the key thing is to have a Scrum Master who has the time perform well in the role. To support all aspects of it as they serve their team. To honor the role of the Scrum Master as significant and important for the teams’ success.

Instead of my harping on what a Scrum Master does, here are a few bloggers who’ve done it for me.

# of teams

Another frequent question is – how many teams can a Scrum Master support? The ‘book’s seems to imply one, but that can’t be right. My gosh, what do they do all day?

While I was at iContact, we overloaded our Scrum Masters with two teams each. A big part of that was economics, in that we struggled to hire sufficient Scrum Masters to support our teams growth. However, we always engaged the Scrum Masters in the team assignments and asked them if they could take on the additional responsibility without impacting their current team.

It was a balancing act that we partnered with them to achieve. And it became our standard “ratio” if you will. But the ultimate deciding factor was effectiveness within the role in support of the team.

So, what does a Scrum Master do? A lot. It’s a full-time and crucial job. Staff it appropriately with skilled Scrum Masters and you’ll see the difference!

Stay agile my friends,


Bob Galen

Bob Galen

Bob Galen is an Agile Methodologist, Practitioner & Coach based in Cary, NC. In this role he helps guide companies and teams in their pragmatic adoption and organizational shift towards Scrum and other agile methodologies and practices. He is a Principal Agile Evangelist at Velocity Partners. Contact: bgalen@velocitypartners.net


  1. Peter Saddington (@agilescout)

    Thanks for the link!
    My list isn’t perfect, but it’s a great jump start, and conversation point for many organizations that look to have ScrumMasters and Product Owners be part of their regular business hierarchy… :)


  2. Melisa Cabrera

    Great post! For most of the clients, it’s difficult to see the value of management work. A lot of them only want to ‘pay’ when seeing a real result, such as a line of code, or no bugs in their application. The work that it’s being done ‘behind the scenes’ is more difficult to be seen, and this helps to explain us it better :) Thanks!

  3. Federico Bridger

    I agree on what Melisa is saying. Some clients have a hard time understanding the value of having certain roles within their teams.

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