Sunday, August 09, 2009

Should ScrumMasters Code?

One of my mentor's believed that ScrumMasters should be programming as part of their general duties. If you're in IT, it's likely you know some piece of the programming being done, and if not, have the ability to learn some small aspect (SQL, scripting, batch files, etc).

As I finish up my first Rails project several months ago, I learned a number of things. In the end, I switched my laptop over to a dual-boot Windows\Ubuntu machine. I'm been using Ubuntu ever since, and only had to use Windows for old specialty apps (and even those now have web-based versions). I'm emailing, exchanging and editing documents, tracking bugs, organizing and prioritizing work all from Ubuntu. The boot time is faster, installing apps is easier, and viewing all my windows greater in Ubuntu.

I went to Ubuntu in order to get the developer's web site up and running on my machine. Along the way, I've learned about Subversion and Git, production vs. dev mode on Rails, and how configurations are saved and published (or held).

On my current project, I've started using soapUI to help do some testing for the QA team members. By reading a few pages of the documentation, I learned how to automate the tests and use XPath to confirm data items in the responses. Just getting that hands-on to know the versions of our WSDLs, the endpoint changes, seeing data and changes in the payload gave me a deeper and stronger understanding of the work (and challenges) of what the team is trying to accomplish.

I have a renewed belief that the agile project manager is much more effective when their hands are in the code at least some small percent of the time.

If you're a ScrumMaster, are you doing any programming? Would it help? If so, how? If no, why not? If you're not a ScrumMaster, but a team member, how would you feel about your ScrumMaster getting involved in this way? What if it meant asking more questions, learning and perhaps even making some mistakes?

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