Part-time VS Full-time Scrum Master

Part-time VS Full-time Scrum Master

A controversy over Scrum Master as a part-time or a full-time actor has been in the limelight since the beginning of the Agile era. It exists as the most disputed job role in the history of Scrum. Different perceptions have been highlighted, but the true side of this job role is still a shadow.

Many companies that claim they practice Scrum methodology don't actually understand what scrum and agile actually demand. They perceive it as something about some mysterious doctrines that the scrum team practices, so they hire professional and full-time Scrum masters to cast some kind of magical spells.

But in reality, there is no magic or wizard out there.

What are the perspectives that stakeholders carry while hiring Scrum Masters, what do they expect from the role of Scrum Master, and what happens in reality?

Perspective 1: The capability of a team links with the ability of full-time Scrum Master

Project owners and other entities believe that experienced teams can be efficient enough to run a scrum process without a Scrum Master, but every nascent team needs a full-time Scrum Master to curb hurdles. 

This idea is totally absurd.

The capability of a team is irrelevant. What's crucial is whether the entire firm is ready for the Agile Process. There are many companies that claim to be "Agile" but don't bother to adopt agile ways like reorganization practice, sculpt business experts, produce cross-functional teams, and update workflow. Instead, they push a Scrum Master into this mess.

This is what the Scrum Master has to cater to:

  • Hectic and inconsistent business requirements, constant priority fluctuations.
  • Unstable teams, a complex environment that expects and rewards lone-wolf behavior, and as a result, performance and motivation issues from teams and stakeholders start rising.
  • Conflict of priorities with control-and-command management chain.
  • Dependencies on traditionally infrastructure team layout that is slow, diplomatic, and impossible to lead.

They are not just hurdles, but curbing them means fighting with the entire corporate monster that hired you, expecting you to drive it towards success.

Fighting with the company's old-school practices, traditions, and beliefs is not an easy task. Is it easy to face these challenges for 8-10 hours a day with no clue of how Scrum Master can win this battle against the corporate culture that perceives him as a superhuman?

 

 

Perception # 2: Scrum Master possesses a superpower

In the corporate world, an individual's ability to survive and thrive depends on two key factors.

  • Authority
  • Influence

Some people have positions, but they not allowed to pass a statement when it comes to decision making. Others don't appear like on the top positions but carry heavy words due to their leadership, experience or some sort of favoritism and nepotism. The actual corporate hunters are those having both authority and influence, simultaneously.

In the case of Scrum Master, he or she is a mediator and outsider to the company. They have no official authority, and in the usual scenario, they won't be able to develop any kind of linkages to cast influence due to their short tenure.

The Scrum Master is expected to help an organization evolve while surviving in organizational politics without authority or influence. Why are they expected to create the difference?

Full-time Scrum Masters are bound to perform in a culture where they are not given authority and also can't develop relevant links while struggling with their actual role.

Perception # 3: Agile is a process owned by Scrum Master

Surely not. Because the actual goal of an agile process is to produce robust software in frequent small increments. It's a very complex & technical phase that must be controlled by experts having an agile background as the Scrum process exists to help the agile process thrive, but it's just the first step towards the goal, not the goal itself.

A full-time Scrum Master can be perceived by the rest of the team members as an outsider who doesn't support the idea of sprint methodology. Some of them perceive this role as a Project Manager that requires frequent updates. Others consider their role as responsible for the team's health, employee behavior, ending conflicts, interfering in the HR domain.

The organization that claims to be Agile-driven, but sustains old-school command-and-control strategy launches itself for failure blames everything on Scrum Master's end.

Contradiction: Actual Agile Organizations & Professional Scrum Masters hardly cross paths.

In an agile-driven organization, the Scrum Master serves as a part-time actor. If the organization has Product Owner and has developed productive infrastructure, a big fish of hurdles breaks from lengthy impossible tasks into small obstacles that can be resolved by the organization itself or by productive employees whose job is to dodge the obstacles identified by the teams and propose efficient solutions to eliminate obstacles and helps improve the team in terms of efficiency.

In professional agile organizations, there should be no need for a full-time Scrum Masters. The team members should volunteer their services to serve as Scrum Master. Every team should have at least one capable expert with leadership skills. Some teams have multiple individuals who have the potential to serve as Scrum Masters.

Serving as a part-time Scrum Master is the duty of an individual to keep the processes based on what helps and makes sense for the team. Being a technical specialist, the part-time Scrum Master can be productive and efficient by identifying obstacles that can only be countered or dodged by adopting modern approaches. Being a part of the organization, the part-time Scrum Master can better lead the company and pass ideas to decision-makers for utilizing both authority and influence. The part-time Scrum Master can motivate its team members better for having their trust and support.

This is what a typical part-time SM can deliver:

  • Host the conventions and keep them brief.
  • Keep the documents in order.
  • Moral support to the team.

The part-time Scrum Master should serve as a rotating wheel. So that the organization doesn't hesitate from investing in its home talent and train its own next generation of state of the art servant leaders for the future.

Conclusion:

In the modern era of technology, outdated methods of project development are not sustainable, and Agile is a crucial need of the tech industry. It is essential to understand that both Part-time and Full-time Scrum Masters have their own Brightside and Darkside, depending upon the environment they are serving in. Agile Scrum Certification can sustain all the necessities if someone plans to switch jobs and want to build a career in the Agile world. Overall Agile Scrum Certification can promise better visibility, better salary, and better credibility.

About The Author
Sajid
Associate Consultant at QuickStart

Sajid Amjal

Sajid is an excellent associate resource we have at QuickStart; having proficiency in various Microsoft based technologies such as SQL, Power-BI, coupled with extensive practical knowledge he adds immense value to our team.