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I have been thinking more and more as to whether it’s a good idea to have the one off the Lead QA testers as the projects Scrum Master? Here’s my thinking, which may not be the same in every company/workplace but I am sure out there somewhere in the ether there is a similar example.

Basically, our SM is a current dev team, who has his tie split 70-DEV/30-SM. However, in practice this is not the case. They see to hide under the SM role and the DEV side suffers. I have seen this on multiple teams within our organisation.

I have a thought, that as the Lead QA, they are already in a position to know what the project should be producing for the given sprint, its acceptance criteria has clearly been defined between the Product owner and the QA team, so test cases can be created and ready for the end of each sprint.

I feel as if are losing a developer/s, while also duplicating the work/interaction with the product owners.

Thoughts?

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2 Answers

It reads to me as though your organization is using the SM role in a somewhat different way than classic Scrum, so my suggestions could be way off-target here.

Classically, the SM role is to facilitate progress by finding ways to clear or work around any impediments that arise during a sprint, to lead meetings, to ensure that meetings stay on-topic and stay within the time frame, to assist with coordinating resources, and so forth. Ideally, the SM role should not be held by someone who has another role on that project.

If I've interpreted your question correctly, your SM is also a dev on the project team: this is, as you've experienced, not ideal. If this is the case, I'd suggest your first priority would be to try to arrange future projects so that each team member has exactly one role - that is, your SM is not a developer (or QA) on that team.

Regardless, I think you should try to have someone take Scrum Master training and become a dedicated SM for as many project teams as possible - it's very much an administrative/resource-juggling role compared to the dev/qa roles which can and should be blurring in the teams.

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Kate notes the classical example in her answer, it may be you are not in that sort of environment.

I've been in companies where the desire to use an Agile/Scrum process often outstrips the personnel abilities of the company. Either you cannot hire an additional person to be the full time SM or you can't get dedicated training. So you do need to have someone who is utilizing multiple roles, I've actually been in one company where the SM was a part time position but not for someone who was central to the project, although at times it was.

As Kate notes the SM is basically there to assure the project is on target and on schedule, to remove impediments and assure there are resources to meet the needs. All in all it should not take a full time position, depending on the scope of the project (I've done smaller iterations that didn't need a full time SM so your experience may differ). If you have people splitting time that should be ok, although having someone who is missing schedules due to SM work means either they need some training, or may not be the right fit for the position.

This should be brought up in the retrospective, but initially in the planning you should also be able to see if the SM is the right person, do they have the capability during the iteration to do the SM work? Do they know WHAT to do? Dev or QA should not really matter, typically its the person and whether or not they know HOW to remove the impediments. I've seen Dev's be able to do this successfully without impacting projects, and I've seen external SM's have issues with this as well. Role shouldn't really matter, so long as the person who is the SM knows What to do When to do it and How.

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