[Email] – Project Manager, ScrumMaster, or Development Manager? Which Should I Choose?

Hi Peter -
I’m from the UK, I’m 30 and my background is software development. About 3 years ago I got into Agile (Scrum & XP) and was promoted to a position called “Project Development Lead.” This essentially meant I was managing projects and software team leaders but not quite a “development” manager. Over the years I have leant more and more about Agile techniques, become qualified in this and project management. I work for a smallish company so I have a number of roles.
I am now looking to move and its hard for me to say what role I really perform or should aim for. The options are traditional PM, Agile PM, Scrum Master, Development Manager. Now Dev Managers get paid the most but there are few jobs in this area, there are lots of PM roles but most area traditional waterfall PMI/Prince2, and then there are very few Agile/Scrum Master and the pay is low.
What do you suggest? Appreciate hearing about your decisions and how they could help me.

Regards,

-T

T,

Thanks so much for emailing me.
Sounds like you are a in a good place. So my first thoughts for you are:
Be encouraged.
You are in a good position.
Considering the economy, etc, you have lots of options, and a skillset that is valuable.
A couple of my ideas:
  1. Traditional PM roles (proper) are dying out – They’ll become more blended as more agile-concepts are introduced. Regardless of whether you take a Traditional PM role, you’ll need to be agile and do some agile things in your company. Unfortunately, a PM usually doesn’t have that much power to make positive change in environments (if that is what you like to do).
  2. ScrumMaster – Most companies hiring for this don’t really know what they are asking for. You need to be a person ready to lead change. Stick your neck out, and put yourself on a chopping block at times. Risk averse? I think this job (if done well) can be risky, but very rewarding.
  3. Dev Manager – I used to be this. It was a lot of fun. you have the ability to manage the full process, and… even be part of the change that a ScrumMaster can do. Not only that, but after time, garnering respect, earning trust, you can be a pretty big linchpin in making positive change within an organization. Not only that, you can also lead that change. But you have to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable in your role. You gotta keep people on their toes!
Of the three, the Project Manager is the least able to make change, ScrumMaster should be able to make change, but is often not in a position to do so. A dev manager can make change.
All depends on what your desires are, where your skillsets lie, and what your passions are.
Who is _____? What drives him? What makes him wake up in the morning?
Hope that helps friend!
Do let me know how it turns out!
All the best,
Peter Saddington
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=–=-
What are your thoughts?

3 Responses to “[Email] – Project Manager, ScrumMaster, or Development Manager? Which Should I Choose?”

  1. Jon Terry
    January 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    In my experience, the titles are really only relevant for HR screening. A good hiring manager is looking for what you’ve done. Not the tasks. The accomplishments. The world looked like this (bad) when I started and looked like this (better) when I finished. Weaving methodology words into the description is fine. It shows that you accomplished good results through a repeatable process rather than brute force and burned bridges. But the hiring manager is generally in the position of needing a problem to be solved. And they want to read resumes of people who have solved similar problems in the past. If they are looking to change methodology then strong experience with Kanban, scrum, lean, XP, etc. may be especially valuable. But unless you really know the methods well enough to teach them, then it’s really your demonstrated results as a leader of working teams that matters.

    • peter
      January 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      Great feedback Jon as usual! I’ll pass this onto the emailer

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