Skip to main content

Can a Scrum master be a developer also in the team?


A ScrumMaster needs a different skills and mindset than a normal developer.

I have worked in teams where I was part time scrum master & developer.  In many other projects I was full time Scrum Master.  Both projects were a success. Based on my experiences if I have to answer this question I will say that it depends on the project but given a choice I want my ScrumMaster to be fulltime.

Being a technical person helps the ScrumMaster to understand the language spoken by the team. But if he/she is also working as a part time developer then the Scrum Master will be more interested in finishing the bugs/Product Backlog Items. Then who will protect the team from PO & other stake holders?  Who will coach them? Few months’ back one of my colleagues complained that his ScrumMaster is interested in only in finishing the work, there was no feeling of being part of a team because the ScrumMaster was busy finishing his bugs. He rarely motivated the team.

 I came from a strong technical background. When I became the ScrumMaster for the first time, I had strong urges to run the technical meetings. Being a senior person in the team, when I presented the solution people readily accepted it. They very rarely challenged me. Scrum puts the onus on collective thinking but in this case I was the only person thinking.  Initially many in my team asked me to use my technical skills to deliver the content but I was more interested in creating a self-sustaining team.  If team needs the ScrumMaster’s  technical expertise, then there is a problem & an opportunity to improve the team.  Many ignore this and try to cover up this by filling that Gap.

In this situation I will ask the following question

Why do you need ScrumMaster’s technical help?

  • Is there a lack of technical skills?
  • Does the team lack application/domain expertize?
  • Is there any attitude or team dynamics problem?
  • Is the team balanced? Do they have sufficient number of people?

 Such questions will help the team to think & move forward. They may not like it initially but in the long run it will be the best decision. Treat the disease, not the symptoms.

Many think that ScrumMaster job is of an administrator but that is not true. Check the following article. Doing this with one team fulltime is nearly impossible and we are talking about appointing a single ScrumMaster for multiple teams or to save cost have a part-time ScrumMaster. By doing so, we will create more problems rather than solutions.

Are you against Scrum Master actively doing coding?


No. I am not against Scrum master doing coding or actively testing or creating the documentation for the software. I believe we should do everything under our capacity to give a quality output and satisfy our clients. If the scrum master is a good developer or architect then he should use his knowledge to teach his team. I was talking to one of my scrum master last day. He is a good developer. He used to fix the critical bugs in the application. Team was so used to him fixing the issues that, later on when a bug was reported from that area they refused to look into it asked the scrum master to fix it. Rather than enabler he became a bottleneck in teams development.

Remember the principle – “ Team them fishing, don’t give them fish”. As long as the scrum master uses his skills to team the team and he doesn’t becomes a bottleneck , do the coding.



When can we have a part time ScrumMaster/ScrumMaster with multiple teams?

  • When the team ( PO & Scrum team ) is very matured 
  • There is no change in Backlog. The team has a very steady backlog of Bugs or PBI which is written by a very good PO
  • A very small team of 2-3 members which doesn’t have much work.
  • R/D work which doesn’t involved outside party (this point is debatable) 

I have seen many debates on this. My only suggestion is to have a full-time Scrum Master if possible


Additional links



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SCRUM- Who should write a user story

Traditionally user stories (or requirements) were written by Business analysts. They used to prepare big documents after months of study. It was a herculean task. I used to get such UI/Functional specification documents. I have fixed a lot of bugs because I missed few text in such 1000 + pages document. This is not the only interesting part. Some of the requirements were so weird that I often wondered why I am creating the features which no one is going to use. If I had the option I would have recommended a better option. If the BA’s misunderstood some requirements & customers failed to correct those few words in the epic requirement then we will have a nice situation.
In the agile world the story is different. Product Owners are primarily responsible for user stories. But can anyone else also contribute? Yes. Definitely yes In actual environment many users write user stories. The first requirement may come from end user. The PO, tech architect, scrum master, BA’s... anyone can upd…

What are the rules of scrum?

A relatively new person to scrum asked me this question last day. My answer to that person was yes. But really does the scrum have any rules? Scrum is a framework which helps us in developing software. It has very few rules and apart from those basic rules rest of them are guidelines like best practices.

Some of the rules 

The roles of Scrum
•Scrum Master - http://www.theagileschool.com/2012/03/scrummasters-checklist-roles.html
•Product Owner
•Feature TeamThe PDCA cycle (http://www.theagileschool.com/2012/05/pdca-scrum-or-agile-why-is-it-important.html )  frequent communication about risks (daily)
•Plan – Sprint planning
•Do – Actual engineering sprint – deliver a potential shippable code
•Check – Sprint review
•Act – Retrospective 
The scrum guide @ http://www.scrum.org/Scrum-Guides will be a good guideline for teams/companies planning to start scrum. If you are following the recommendation in these then you are following scrum.
Apart from these rest of the ceremonies and artifacts are there…

PDCA & SCRUM (or Agile); Why is it important?

The PDCA (Plan DO Check Act) cycle was made popular by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. This is a scientific cyclic process which can be used to improve the process (or product). This is cyclic in nature and usually time boxed.

Plan 
This is the first stage of the process. During this step the team discusses the objectives, the process and the clear conditions of exit (conditions of acceptance). This stage sets the measurable and achievable goals for the team.

DO
Team works together to achieve the objective set in the planning phase. Team works with the set of agreed process.

Check
Once the implantation is done team regroups and verifies the output and compares it to the agreed conditions of acceptance decided during the planning phase. The deviation, if any, is noted down.

ACT
If any deviation in planned tasks is observed during the Check stage, a root cause analysis is conducted. Team brainstorms and identifies the changes required to prevent such deviations in future. Team also brainstorms idea…