KanBan – Changes Ahead

I’ve just been spending some time with some of my “agile” friends talking about the latest emerging roles within Kanban and I must admit that I am surprised that new roles are being suggested given our focus on lean, efficiency and eliminating unnecessary waste within the system/methodology.

The first role being proffered relates to delivery management. The premise is that someone needs to take on the responsibility for the flow of work within a team or across multiple teams and this has the colloquial name of Flowmaster. I must admit I like the name as it evokes a vision of someone ensuring that cards don’t get blocked and that the team focuses on Customer Value. However, the official name circulating for this person is Service Delivery Manager and it is intended to be a “role” within the existing team and not a particular position or indeed a new job title. Of course the acronym is SDM and that for me will just lead to confusion with the role of Software Development Managers. 

The second role is known as the Service Request Manager which seems to be a metamorphosis of the product owner as someone who keeps everyone focused on risks, sequencing, scheduling etc through the facilitation and focus on Customer Value. An SRM is expected to be more strategic and have a stronger governance remit.

I actually think that all these responsibilities should be part of any team(s) working within a KanBan system and by giving these roles “management” definitions will in fact give rise to new titles and positions within the agile movement. Interestingly I can remember when scrum mastering was a role that could rotate around the various team members and in fact some of the best scrum based teams still do this. However, larger organisations demand that individuals have scrum accreditation which has excluded some people (who are without the certificate) from the coordination of backlogs, managing blockers and working directly with the product owners (or BA’s).

Maybe I’m being a little sceptical but I can foresee the same “scrum master type” accreditation/training being required for SDM’s and SRM’s and this becoming the norm within KanBan. In fact and I’m sure that certification bodies will be created, training offered and some companies will only hire accredited individuals which I think is a shame given the current lean/agile direction which is to have greater democracy, more efficiency and less bureaucracy within software engineering teams.

One final point which was made by my beautiful wife who happens to be a QA Tech Lead and Scrum Master: “Being a Scrum Master is a mindset. It’s someone that wants to maintain the flow of work and is focused on delivery. However in reality it’s an administrative role and not management”. Enough said…

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