Scrum Master as a member of development team

Last post 04:30 pm March 21, 2017
by Nick Pranovich
10 replies
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05:23 am May 21, 2014

Hi

What are pros and cons of the situation when Scrum Master works also as a developer?

How does it work in your company?

01:23 pm May 21, 2014

Hi

Really interesting question as this is what I'm doing on my current project. Our sprints are two weeks long and for sprint planning, I budget 50% of my effort as dev capacity, to allow the remainder for "scrum mastering". It seems to work quite well but there are downsides :
- the team have raised one of more blockers on the standup. You need to prioritise completing your bit of dev , or sacrificing your bit of dev to remove the blockers. Both are necessary to help the team meet it's sprint committment.
- if you are eyes down in some meaty dev work, then context switching to deal with issues is distracting and impacts your own productivity
- what happens when one role dominates your agenda to the detriment of the other
For me it's important to be open and honest and self critical at the retro and if it's not working then say so and change it.

I'd be interested to know the reason for your question. Are you in an organisation where the SM role isn't understood/appreciated so their view is "one of the devs can do that bit of admin I'm not paying for a whole separate headcount" ?

Matt

02:58 am May 22, 2014

Hi Matt

Thanks for answering be back.
In my organisation is understood and appreciated. We also have a support of the management board.

I asked this question becuase it is hard for me to conduct retrospective (six thinking hat) as SM and take part in it as a developer. In my opinion, in such cases there is also a problem of independence.

03:29 am May 22, 2014

Hi Paweł,
I agree with you that there is a potential conflict of interest.
What might help is to use a hat literally to indicate when you speak in the role of Scrum Master.
When you speak as a dev team member, you take off the hat.
You might think of any other accessoir as well if you don't want to carry a hat with you all the time.

04:02 am May 22, 2014

> I asked this question becuase it is hard for me
> to conduct retrospective (six thinking hat) as
> SM and take part in it as a developer.

A Scrum Master needs to make sure the rules of Scrum are followed. There is no requirement for a Scrum Master to conduct events, but rather to facilitate *as needed*.

In other words there's nothing to stop a team from rotating the role of an event facilitator between themselves. The Scrum Master would only need to step in if this didn't work out and things went to pieces.

11:12 pm May 22, 2014

I've been involved with scrum teams that had a developer be scrum master and those with an independent person as scrum master. Perhaps determining (pros and cons) which approach to take is dependent on things like...

1. How experienced the scrum team is with scrum.

2. How experienced the customer, your management, and your organization is with scrum. If you have a customer or management that's new to scrum then a dedicated scrum master may need to spend time educating the customer and their organization.

3. How large the scrum team is.

02:35 am May 23, 2014

Currently I am also SM and developer in a rather small Scrum Team. It works quite well, and you have the benefit of knowing what goes on, because of your own experience.

As Ian pointed out, the SM is a role, not so much a person. If a team is completely self-organizing, the role of the SM would be embedded in the team.

02:35 am May 23, 2014

In my experience as "50% SM" in the past, I've seen the problem that when SM is needed the most, than also the DEV capacity is needed most. So project is in trouble, you have to develop 120% and the process get's thrown away and no one is there because SM got sacrificed for the 120 % DEV

BR

06:39 am May 29, 2014

I'm new to this forum - this is all very useful feedback.

I'm working as part of a small team and Scrum addresses issues we've had around successful, on budget software development. My concern has been that a lack of people in this team could be a barrier to Scrum adoption. It's reassuring to have feedback that that it's possible / manageable , if not the ideal situation.

I've often had multiple roles in a team so, as Jasper posts, it's useful to consider SM as a role rather than a post.

03:18 am June 3, 2014

I play both roles as sm/dev and I would say that this is not ideal, but from my understanding this is very common especially in small organizations/teams. Just as Philipp says, when your dev. role is needed the most, that is often the time when the SM role would need most attention.

04:30 pm March 21, 2017

Short answer is - it's ok.

Long answer - the situation itselft is normal, as Ian described - it's a role, rather than a person. The situation correlates with the person (to be) assigned - if s/he understands Scrum good enough to drive the team and to wear several hats, and if s/he's flexible enough to abstract from the dev's standpoint to facilitate from the team's perspective? In other words, the person should be very well skilled. And it raises another point - do you want to re-allocate time of such skilled person to Scrum Mastering from development, i.e. to not gain a potential increment you could?