Monday, 16 May 2011

Can a Software Development Manager be Scrum Master?

Recently I've been fulfilling the role of both Development Manager and Scrum Master in an Agile team and felt the need to blog about my experience - partly so that I wouldn't forget.

Ideally we know that your Dev Manager (Resource, Technical Quality, People Developer) manager should not be your Scum Master though at times due to resourcing needs and or other reasons the need may necessitate. In these circumstance it is important that the the right cultural tone is set, in our case I felt the need to ask one of the team to take on an additional role of  an 'Agile Conscience'. Where they could remind myself and the team of areas that we were slipping in - the team are of course encouraged to grow their own 'consciences' in this and other matters.

It was very subtle at times how there were certain dichotomies that the twin role posed for example issues could arise where it is not clear for the team as to who to go to for a quality concern that could impact the sprint. Greater care and emphasis needed to be made to ensure that the team was comfortable in bringing forth impediments to the Scrum Master/ Dev Manager that they may have been more reluctant to do as the Dev manager is filling this role as well. Team members also need to have a person they can rely on to understand their individual role, expertise and development - and how that fits into an agile team and the day to day of Sprints - the Dev Manager should be that person.

The Dev Manager fills a critical role – especially with a team that is new to Agile, in that they would lead the team through a change in the way a project is delivered - educating, informing and preaching the Agile approach. At times bridging the gap between management and Agile, perhaps there is an analysis gap or an education piece in making and empowering product owners etc...This is more possible as they would work very closely with Project and Product management on upcoming projects, they would be part of the discussions on the broader roadmap as well as ensuring the right skill sets are available when needed. Additionally, Dev managers should be pushing the team to follow development best practices around unit testing, pair programming, code reviews, continuous deployment etc... these are different goals in the short term to an Agile Scrum Master whose focus is the delivery and removal of empediments to the current sprint.

On a slighter note, though thinking about it it is quite important, the Scrum Master needs to be on the ball, minute by minute atuned to impediments or issues that may arise whereas the Development Manager should also give time to seeing things at a slightly higher level ie. where are there major inefficiencies in the team or the business where we can make a marked difference etc...

I hope this stimulates a discussion between us - please post your comments below.