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What is the difference between a Scrum Master and Agile Delivery Manager and how can I bridge the gaps.

Perhaps you could recommend books, courses or podcasts.

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    You might be interested in this - “Why your Agile Delivery Manager job advert sucks; let’s break it down.” medium.com/@steven_feeney/… Jul 24, 2018 at 21:37
  • One is a role in a scrum team the other is a job title. The person with the job title will almost certainly do the scrum role
    – Liath
    Jul 25, 2018 at 10:46

6 Answers 6

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The "Agile delivery manager" seems to be an undefined/undocumented role, and from what I read in the job openings is mostly a combination of a Project Manager, a Product Owner and a Scrum Master. Sounds like utter bullshit to me. A made up title to map existing roles to a probably fake-Agile implementation, while using a lot of buzzwords.

According to Jeff Sutherland, the Scrum Master and Scrum of Scrum Master is responsible for delivery:

"Because why would you have a group of Scrum Masters if they can't deliver? Not only deliver, but actually make delivery go faster and faster. That is their job right." -- Jeff Sutherland

So, there is not real factual definition of the "Agile delivery manager", except for open vacancies (13k open jobs). The Scrum Master is responsible for making sure the team delivers working software Sprint after sprint, as working software is the primary measure in Agile.

Leading me to think that the Agile delivery manager is not something that should exist and should be covered by the Scrum Master if you're doing Scrum. Maybe if you're not doing Scrum, it could be alternative title for the same.

Maybe someone can prove me wrong and point us to documented proof of the "Agile delivery manager", hopefully showing it is truly Agile, but from my research it seems to be a sort of Scrum Master or a something which would fit in an Agile anti-pattern book.

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  • Thanks. It definitely sounds like its a case of an organisation that hasn't quite made the shift to any Agile method. properly. I think its such a huge challenge for organisations, that they only do the first step which is the teams.
    – user32613
    Jul 26, 2018 at 12:41
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I second Niels opinion on "there is not real factual definition of the Agile delivery manager" (+1!), however it doesn't mean that some companies haven't faced a need to name a delivery manager role for Agile projects.

Long story short: That's likely to be a managerial role, responsible for aligning different agile teams (not necessarily scrum).

Aspects to be considered:

  • Undefined roles (and even the ones clearly defined!) are strongly dependent on the environment and the company considered. If I'd earn a dollar for each "Scrum Master" I saw assigning tasks directly to each team member or for each Scrum team composed of analysts, development and testing, I probably wouldn't be rich, but would have a very nice vacations.
  • Some roles are inherited from waterfall oriented projects moving towards an agile mindset. There was this delivery manager. He was working coordinating all the different silos and responsible for making sure the delivery is on time. The project moves towards an "Agile" methodology, but without changing roles night to day. On these cases, it's natural to have "an entity" responsible for coordinating the different "agile" teams. Thus, Agile because the methodology is lending towards Agile mindset and Delivery Manager because... he's doing the same role (potentially with reorganized teams).

Bottomline: Understand the context where this role is required. If that's a job offer, see what's being expected. It's likely to change from place to place, anyways.

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  • What's wrong with "Scrum team composed of analysts, development and testing"? That seems like the kind of team that can handle stories front to end.
    – Erik
    Jul 25, 2018 at 4:21
  • @Erik: I guess there is something missing along the lines of "that are unwilling to step out of their silo's". Jul 25, 2018 at 7:13
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau yeah if it describes 3 teams, each with only type of role, that would be an issue. (In that case, I think the answer could be edited to make this clear)
    – Erik
    Jul 25, 2018 at 7:13
  • As Bart mentioned, the Scrum team should be cross functional, not composed of peoples only doing analysis OR development OR testing. Refer to scrum.org/resources/what-is-a-scrum-development-team
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Jul 25, 2018 at 21:16
  • I think its a problem if individuals on a team only do one of those 3 things otherwise if they are pairing across these boundaries I think its fine.
    – user32613
    Jul 26, 2018 at 12:39
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What I like about the “Delivery Manager” title is that there’s little question about the purpose – getting stuff delivered. The role is not about discovery, and it’s not about coaching on process; it’s all about getting stuff pushed live. ( https://svpg.com/the-delivery-manager-role/ )

Reading the above quote tells me that companies who have no idea what it means to be agile and who just jump on the agile band wagon because they like the idea of shorter delivery cycles but without any of the values, principles, behaviours, and practices. Just deliver what you promised right on the deadline.

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The Scrum Master and the Agile Delivery Manager (ADM) are quite different (According to SAFe) For example:

  1. The Scrum Master has no reporting relationship with the team members, where the ADM is the manager over the team members and is responsible for helping guide team members careers.
  2. The Scrum Master is responsible for establishing Team-level Agile practices (e.g. introduce ATDD to the Team). The ADM is responsible for creating policies and procedures that relate to quality, etc. (e.g. How code reviews are conducted and governance around making sure code is up to the companies standards)
  3. The Scrum Master does not control a budget around the Team's needs. The ADM will have a budget on tools needed, contractor work, etc.

These are some examples; hope they help. We are in our 7th year of our agile journey applying SAFe.

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I’ve found that the Scrum Master role and the ADM role create conflict within the Scrum Team. Roles clearly need to be defined otherwise the Scrum Master position is compromised. The Scrum Master is task with protecting the team from outside and inside distraction. To me the ADM as I mentioned above can falls into this. Not a fan of this role.

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It is interesting how people seem to respond to this question like they are angry and I guess they are coming from Scrum Masters (possibly). The question is difference between a Scrum Master and a Delivery Manager. I am an Agile practitioner, functioned as a Scrum Master, an Agile Project Manager and currently working as a Software Delivery Manager.

First, we need to understand that Scrum is not a gospel that people must follow. It is a framework and a guide. Organisations have right to choose what works for them. If you are in the UK for example, most government institutions are using more of Delivery Managers titles in their Agile environment more than Scrum Masters and that is for some reasons. Agility is not about one framework/methodology, its about flexibility on what works for you at that stage of your business/team.

Some things have come to stay and the earlier we believe it the better. You have jobs asking for Scrum Masters/Agile Project Manager as a role, that is to tell you that they want someone with both skills on board. Same with BA/PM and a lot of others and we all have a choice to take it or leave it.

Scrum Master is an Agile Practitioner that uses Scrum Framework to coach the Scrum Team and protects the Developers from external influences/distractions and also helps the team with any form of impediments. But they are not meant to force the team to use only Scrum frameworks if there is need for flexibility, they are agile and flexible to use other frameworks when necessary like Kanban when there are maintenance to manage while using Scrum to Deliver products.

A Delivery Manager is a multi-function individual derived from a need to have someone with an Agile Mindset work in a flexible Agile environment and the main JD is dependent on the organisation and the structure. In some, they function as both PM and SM while working with a PO. In some cases, they work as PO and SM and/or PM. I have seen people get angry at this, but hey, Scrum is not to be forced down anyone's throat and you can say they are not practicing Scrum and you may be right, but remember, transformation is a process. I have lead organisations from Waterfall to Scrum and it took a while for the total transformation to happen. You won't just change from Waterfall to Agile in one day.

For more info on DM's JD check https://www.gov.uk/guidance/delivery-manager (But remember, it is company-specific, ensure to know the full JD and structure if you want to explore it. The maturity of different business will determine what they embrace at different point in time.

The roles of Scrum Masters will always exist and will always be in high demand so also the role of a DM. Most Agile practitioners who have practice all will tell you that after learning through all, there is no one that is perfect. The focus is to be Agile and that covers it all irrespective of where you are on the journey.

Cheers.

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  • I find that the majority of answers I receive on this site have an angry or slightly annoyed tone to them which I also don’t understand. I think people are so determined to sort of “put you in place” when all I am here for is to learn.
    – user32613
    Mar 12 at 4:07
  • Your feelings (more like chatter) are more approapriate for the Meta section of this site. Mar 17 at 5:12
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    Exhibit A (above) 😂
    – user32613
    Apr 29 at 8:27

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