Selecting a Scrum Master

Agile teams require effective leadership for the achievement of iterative and incremental product delivery. Agile project management framework enhances a quick, effective and efficient platform to make changes. Traditionally, project managers were involved in controlling time and cost in the project process. Today, organizations seek a Scrum framework, which a scrum master leads, to fix the time and cost through team collaboration during product development. A scrum master facilitates all activities of development teams and acts as a buffer between the team and the management. Although traditional project managers can facilitate the completion of a particular development product, it is inadvisable to give a project manager the Scrum master’s role.

                        Project managers cannot make good scrum masters due to their inefficiency in handling the development team. Scrum masters lead, guide, and coach development teams and ensure that they follow all agile practices.  However, project managers direct and control various aspects of the project, including the project’s scope, time, cost, communication, risks, and human resources, essential for the initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, and evaluating the project after completion. Therefore, control and management behavior can lead to the failure of a scrum team in an IT development project since the complexity of the projects demands cooperation and direction from the knowledgeable coach. Unlike project management that is concerned about the timely completion of a project, scrum management is concerned about the project’s quality.

                        Furthermore, project managers lack the most vital skills needed for a scrum master. For instance, a scrum master must be a planner and a doer to enable them to identify the appropriate tools and resources for the particular product and manage to identify and remove any barriers that could hinder the completion of its development. However, a project manager could fail terribly in this area since their primary concern is the timely achievement of a set milestone without considering the achievement process’s challenges. Therefore, it is disadvantageous in the development team when companies select a project manager to do the Scrum Masters roles.

                        Project managers are also ineffective when undertaking the scrum master’s roles to the product owners. Product owners desire to have successful projects, and hence the Scrum Master has the responsibility of facilitating this success. Product owners expect the Scrum masters to coach the teams and help them collaborate and work successfully in a conducive working environment besides creating a rapport between them and the development team to enable the product backlog’s effective achievement. However, these roles are challenging for a project manager because they seek to design paperwork and authorize to finish the tasks rather than leading. Besides, the coaching work of a Scrum master demands hard skills of the product under development, while in most cases, project managers lack these skills to deliver to a team.

                        Moreover, product owners expect to be coached by the Scrum masters, a role that a project manager cannot carry. In this case, product owners expect the scrum master to guide them in making effective product decisions, choosing the most appropriate tools and techniques to manage agile products, and developing the organization’s agile product management practices. These roles are complex for project managers since their roles to product owners would just be updating on the project’s progress without offering the needed guidance. Hence, the roles of scrum masters to product owners are likely to be unmet if left in the hand of project managers.

                        Additionally, the scrum master’s roles to the sponsoring organization are likely to be unfulfilled if left in a project manager’s hands. When an organization adopts the agile framework, the transformation process is usually complex and faces many adaptive problems. Therefore, the organization expects the Scrum Framework to develop a learning and sharing culture whereby the scrum master coaches every member of the organization to learn from the mistakes done during the transformation journey and correct the mistakes. This task can be unfulfilled if left in the hands of a project manager since project managers would only develop the project’s business case without considering the possible inconveniences caused by the project to the organization. Hence project managers have no room for guiding the organization on how to go from the development of the project or correct the mistakes done.

                        Moreover, the organization expects that the Scrum Framework will boost its performance. Therefore, it expects the development team to control a scrum master to bring about this transformation. The sponsoring organization expects the scrum master to work with other scrum masters to ensure that they are all working towards the same unified transformational goals. Besides, the scrum master is viewed as an agent of change in the organization by listening to its needs, making decisions, and presenting transparent results that encourage the scrum product’s adoption. All these roles of scrum masters are unachievable in project managers’ hands since the boundaries of their work do not allow them to identify the necessity of a particular given project. Hence they do not participate in analyzing the needs of the organization to determine the kind of scrum product they need and or help determine the way of development. Therefore, the lack of servant-leadership spirit in project managers makes it difficult for them to hold scrum masters’ positions.            

In conclusion, companies that implement fully agile and self-managed teams must avoid giving the project managers the positions of scrum masters. Project managers do not make good scrum masters due to the skills demanded in the scrum managers’ roles and the nature of their work. The scrum masters roles majorly involve coaching and teaching, and leadership, unlike the project manager’s roles that involve management and control. Scrum masters are expected to participate actively in the completion of particular product development while guiding on the best way of achieving success, unlike the project managers concerned with directing teams for timely achievement of milestones. Scrum masters also act as coaches to product owners to identify the most appropriate products, unlike project managers who for seeing the completion of a particular project without project concept building. Finally, scrum masters are expected to coach, teach and transform the sponsoring organization with scrum products, unlike project managers who disappear immediately after project completion.

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