Swapping Scrum Masters

Last post 04:11 pm July 29, 2019
by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
01:19 pm July 29, 2019

Hi Guys!

Interesting topic appears today during setting up a new Scrum Teams.

Team A wants there member be a SM for team B, and team B member would be their SM.

In perfect world it should be full-time SMs for both teams, but since we don't have this possibility,

usually one of team members take SM responsibilities.


For sure in that scenario SM wouldn't be engaged in team's daily routine, so that would have kind of general overview, but I couldn't decide is it benefit or rather weakness.


I'm curious what does the community think about that kind of Scrum Master Swapping ?


03:10 pm July 29, 2019

If the Scrum Master for Team A is also a Development Team member for Team B, on what work do you think the individual will focus their efforts? In this scenario, I see that the Scrum Masters will be ineffective and the context switching involved for them will just make it more difficult. While dedicated Scrum Master is ideal, if you do have to split the role for one individual, I feel having the individual do both on the same team is best.  Remember that part of the Scrum Master's role is to help facilitate events and removal of impediments. They are also responsible for helping the Scrum Team identify ways of improving their team dynamics and ability to consistently deliver value. Splitting across 2 teams with differing roles on each will make that very difficult as you do not know how much time it will take to remove impediments that may/may not be encountered until they happen.  It is difficult to observe ways to improve if you are not involved with the team continuously and not just at the Events.

I have been faced with this situation before and I encouraged that instead of splitting the work across 1 person on a team, it would be better to have one person fill the Scrum Master role for both teams.  That way an individual is solely focused on the duties/responsibility of Scrum Master. Even doing that across 2 teams will be better than a Developer of Product Owner splitting their time.  BTW, at my current organization we have 3 Agile Coaches. Each of us have multiple teams. I currently support 3 teams have been involved in 5 at one time. 

03:38 pm July 29, 2019

I'd be interested to understand what problem(s) the teams believe that this would solve.

Although it may be a solution, I'd echo most of what Daniel Wilhite says. Depending on the situations, you are putting an individual in a position to make a choice between their responsibilities as a Scrum Master for one team and a Development Team member for another team.

If you don't have a dedicated Scrum Master for the team, having one of the Development Team members split their workload between Scrum Master and Development Team member does make sense. The cross-team sharing, however, does not make as much sense and appears to be increasing the risk to both teams.

04:11 pm July 29, 2019

Team A wants there member be a SM for team B, and team B member would be their SM.

Why do Team A have such an interest in who ought to be the Scrum Master for Team B?