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SCM role when he/she is part of development team as well.

Last post 10:44 am February 27, 2014
by Ian Mitchell
9 replies
12:37 pm February 12, 2014

Has anyone idea about the conflicts that raising within the development team, when the SCM is part of the development team as well, how the SCM should make distinguish between his/her behavior and contribution to not make the developers get confused.
is there any one with such an experience?

01:42 pm February 12, 2014


Thanks for posting!

When I first started with Scrum, I was a developer and the SM like you describe, and this is a challenge.

We have this concept in the USA of "wearing many hats"...See more here on that:

When played a dual role, I would say stuff like "With my Scrum Master hat on, I would say <SM view on the topic>"... "On the other hand, with my Development Team Member hat on, I would say <Developer view on the topic>". Whenever there was confusion, I would use this technique. I would also use hand motions to mime putting a hat on to help convey the metaphor.

Ever since that experience, I have used this technique to coach SM's and PO's and even Managers on how to describe which role they are "speaking as".

Would this work in your context?

03:16 pm February 12, 2014

Hi Maryam

By SCM do you mean Software Configuration Manager or Scrum Master?

If you mean Software Configuration Manager, then in Scrum:

- there is whole-team ownership of SCM responsibilities. An SCM would try to de-silo his or her skills by cross-training others.
- If there are any SCM dependencies on making an increment potentially releasable, these should be included in the Definition of Done.
- If there are any SCM skills needed for a Product Owner to actually make a release, then provision (e.g. training) must be made for this.
- In general, SCM duties should be automated as far as possible.

If you mean a Scrum Master, then he or she will need to engage in the sort of hat-switching Charles describes.

However, in my experience it is best for a Scrum Master to clearly be so at all times. I usually coach Scrum Masters who are also Developers to take themselves out of the Dev Team equation as far as possible. Their contribution should not, for example, be factored into a story point budget. Any development they do should focus on removing or heading off any technical impediments and this may include quality assurance or testing.

In essence, the principle of servant-leadership will extend into the production and assurance of code. This shift in emphasis is important if a Scrum Master is to demonstrate the effective use of the role and promote Scrum practices across the wider organization.

03:05 am February 18, 2014

Thanks for your reply,

maybe I should try to learn how to put on different hats in different situation which is quite tricky to change that when you are in the Sprint planning or retrospective meetings.

03:08 am February 18, 2014

What I meant by SCM was Scrum Master.

05:29 am February 25, 2014

Like Charles, I did have both hats in a previous project. I always put the scrum-master hat first.
It was clear for the team that in our scrum event I was the SM and not a developper.

For instance, I facilitated the planning poker session, but I wasn't voting because I wasn't comited as a developper.

11:22 am February 25, 2014

Just to add to what everyone else is saying...

When I played both SM and Dev roles, toward the end of a sprint when things got a little hectic and the outside pressures mounted, I ended up putting on my development team member hat more as we really needed to rally around completing our increment. But that is also when the team needed a SM more than ever?
This is my biggest issue with playing both roles. When the team needs a SM the most, they are not as available.

To be clear, it isn't against the Scrum rules to have one person play both roles, but these are the trade-offs. I'd certainly choose this option over having no SM at all. :)


02:15 pm February 25, 2014

I agree with Don. As someone who is wearing both hats, my experience is that it is very easy for the developer role to take precedence over the SM role, and often that is when the SM role is needed the most. I seem to remember some poll of how many teams that had a dedicated SM, can anyone remember the source? Also, is being SM over several teams just as bad as playing both the developer and SM on the same team?

07:53 am February 27, 2014

I have heard, a good Scrum Master can manage two teams, but a very good one can manage only one team :)
To be serious, I think it depends on how experienced the team is with Scrum and how hostile the environment is they work in. In most cases, managing two teams should be no problem, however he either has to avoid events at the same time or he cannot moderate them all. If the two teams work on the same product, it is even a benefit that he can better facilitate communication between the teams. I have experienced both cases and think being SM for two teams is less of a conflict of interest than being developer and SM in one team.

10:44 am February 27, 2014

In my experience, if two teams are co-located, then you may be able to serve both of them as a Scrum Master.

If they aren't co-located, you're an agile coach.