A BI developer moving into a Scrum Master role wonders where he should report?
Earlier this year, a friend of mine, someone I met years ago at an agile conference, emailed me some questions about being a BI developer moving to a BI Scrum Master role. My friend asked,
In most enterprise organizations where do the Scrum Masters report? Project Management Office (PMO) or within the same management structure as the developers?
He continued to add some context:
As you know I come from the development side of the house and my group is looking at making my position a full time Scrum Master position. They think that I would fit more in the PMO and I am thinking that I should stay in the team. What do you think?
If the organization is new to agile and has a PMO, then you might do better working from there. If the organization has been practicing agile for awhile, then follow their protocol. That said, there are pros and cons of each.
Scrum Master (SM) in the Project Management Office (PMO):
– Pro: If the organization is new to agile and you are one of the first SMs in the organization, then you may be able to do a better job at removing impediments organization-wide if you’re in the PMO. (see the “con” for SM in the Team, below).
– Pro: If the organization is NOT new to agile and has an established practice of having the SMs report to the PMO, then it could be good to be a part of that “community of practice” and work with other SMs to remove organizational impediments for all teams.
– Con: If the organization is new to agile and the PMO is not convinced, you might get more wrapped up in convincing them and dealing with the overhead of that organization… meanwhile missing the opportunity to be effective for the team (your number one priority).
– Con: You’ll could find yourself further from the heart of the team and over time could lose touch with what’s really going on with them. Where will you sit – with the team or with the PMO? If you reported to the PMO but sat with the team it might not be so bad…
Scrum Master (SM) in the Team:
– Pro: You’ll continue to be a member of that team and be driven by the same management guidance and metrics as the team, which keeps you aligned well with them.
– Con: If you’re not in the PMO and the PMO itself provides impediments to the team (e.g. requesting Gantt charts and milestone commitments, etc.), then it’s harder to remove them from outside the PMO. Being in the PMO might give you more influence over that organization as a whole.
WHERE DID MY FRIEND END UP?
I recently followed up with him when I didn’t run into him at Agile 2014 in Orlando, and here is his update:
Within the months following our initial conversations several things have changed within my situation.
I have been in a SM role for some time and have been working within my team as such. The PMO has started a great boot camp program and has that moving forward within the company. I advised the boot camp trainers that for this program to be adopted and maintained, they’re going to need coaches to follow up with groups after the initial boot camp. This is a recognized issue but there is some confusion on what a coach is and how that position works. There seems to be a perception within my group that I should be able to coach in my spare time without direction and/or further training. I have inquired about going to Coaching training or the Coaching Retreat for ideas, direction and support from the Agile community and the response is, “Show me what you can do – first.”
I think we are heading the right direction, but it’s going to take some give and take between the development side of the house and the PMO. The PMO and their management structure recognize the need for coaching, but they are putting all of their eggs in one basket with their Boot Camp trainer. He is currently doing the training and coaching and telling them all the while that he is overloaded. I am sure that this is not at all uncommon.
I appreciate that you have gotten back with me again. I always enjoy our conversations. I am still pushing toward my goal of CSC, and with the help of my friends in the Agile community that is going to happen.
Agile Boot Camp Is Not Enough
My friend is right, it is not all that uncommon for an organization to believe that “boot camp” training is sufficient to change long-established mindsets within a few days. Ongoing, consistent support is so important that we actually use the term “Coach.” Imagine the Denver Broncos getting 2 days of training then expecting to play an entire season without further coaching!