I'm wanting to transition from the QA Lead in my agile company to a scrummaster role. We're still in the process of getting the Scrum methodology right, but I think it's important to have someone that knows the process and can facilitate it. Is it possible to do both? What are some experiences people have witnessed or been a part of that they might be able to share?
First, the two roles are completely different in terms of functional management. Second, the skills involved in development and QA are completely different.
QA Lead is typically a role that involves supervising other QA personnel. The QA Lead not only defines the QA policies and procedures, but he/she is also responsible for performance reviews of people on the team. This person is a functional manager.
A Scrum Master, on the other hand, is not a functional manager. This role is also not typically a fixed position but may be a temporary title for a developer on a Scrum team. In another project, a different member of the team could be the Scrum Master.
The Scrum Master has no formal authority and is simply the facilitator of processes and the scrum meeting. The main responsibility of the Scrum Master is to eliminate distractions and help the team stay focused. Wikipedia says it best, the Scrum Master "protects" the team.
Shifting from a QA Lead to a Scrum Master might take getting used to. As a Scrum Master, you are not a team lead with formal authority. In fact, you're more like a project manager, except you're also a developer.
In addition, QA personnel and development personnel have fundamentally different job duties. While a QA person strives to try to "break" the application and is more concerned with quality issues, the development team is more focused on production and getting the feature(s) completed. The separation of job duties makes it easier for a QA specialist to approach the project objectively, without knowledge of the internals (if black box testing).
Our company used a loose version of Agile development, so it is possible that our Scrum Master responsibilities were much different from what you will experience.
Our Scrum Master did not rotate and was never a developer.
It was her just job to go back and forth with the different departments to make sure we had all the info we needed for our projects. Similar to what jMort stated in his answer, her other main responsibility were to hold meeting and track progress on projects and bug fixes.
If you were QA lead, that tells me you have expereience in trying to extract details about a project from several different departments so that you know how it should function. The Scrum Master (at least our version) would absolutely need that ability.
Whatever skills you gained from leading meetings as QA Lead, they should help you immensely as you lead meetings with your new team.