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What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team? This Might Surprise You!
The Scrum Framework recognizes three roles:
- The Product Owner,
- The Scrum Team Member,
- The Scrum Master.
In addition to other programs it’s providing to its worldwide students, International Scrum Institute™ provides three primary training and certification programs for these three roles.
A proper scrum organization must adequately possess people from all these three skill-sets. That’s particularly essential to succeed with the scrum software development framework.
None of these roles is indispensable and irreplaceable. They cannot be combined with the other scrum roles and functions.Each Scrum Product Owner typically works together with one scrum team. Each Scrum Team has its own Scrum Master, and each Scrum Master cares and works with one single Scrum Team.
Please don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the purpose and function of these roles and employing them with adequate talents.
Many times we observed that the root cause of difficulties of a scrum team is either because these roles are not understood or they don’t employ the right people.
Each of these roles has a defined set of responsibilities. Only if the owners of these roles fulfil these responsibilities, closely interact, collaborate, and work together, they can finish a Scrum project successfully.
Scrum Roles & Stakeholders
The Scrum Team
Within the Scrum Framework, dedicated Scrum Teams do all work delivered to the business clients. A Scrum Team is a collection of individuals working together to provide the requested and committed product increments.
To work effectively, it is essential for a Scrum Team that everyone within the team:
- Embraces values of the Scrum Framework such as Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect, and Openness,
- Adheres the same norms and rules,
- Follows the common goal, which wires them to both IT and business outcomes.
When setting up a new Scrum Team, you always need to keep in mind that no new team will deliver with the highest possible performance right from the beginning. After setting up the team, it has to go through certain phases as described by the Tuckman-Model: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.
Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development
How long it takes until the Scrum Team reaches the Performing Phase varies from team to team. Hiring good basketball players for the same club will not make a good basketball team as soon as they start to play together. They first need to learn and adapt their playing styles, their strengths and weaknesses to assist each other, and to play in harmony. Scrum teams are not that different. Therefore, it’s vital to keep in mind that it usually takes about 3 to 5 Sprints until the team becomes mature enough to deliver its results effectively and predictably.
Characteristics of a Scrum Team
Scrum Teams have the following characteristics:
- Team members share the same norms and rules,
- The Scrum team as a whole is accountable for the delivery,
- The Scrum Team is empowered,
- The Scrum Team is working as autonomous as it is possible,
- The Scrum Team is self-organizing,
- The skills within the Scrum team are balanced,
- A core Scrum Team is small and has no sub-teams,
- The Scrum Team members are dedicated to their teams with 100% capacity,
- Scrum Team members are collocated, and they ideally share the same room.
Rules & Norms
The environment, business, IT, and geographical ecosystem of Scrum Teams invisibly deﬁne some of the norms the teams follow. And yet, to become a truly successful Scrum Team, some rules and norms should be explicitly developed and exercised during the Norming phase.
These common standards are essential, and they can’t be overemphasized to deliver smooth gameplay, IT, and business results. Otherwise, the Scrum Team members would have to continually switch back and forth between different value systems and rule sets, and they waste their valuable time. Just a few examples of such norms and rules are:
- The goal, scope, duration, location, participants and outcomes of Scrum Rituals (Events),
- Required level of details to write clear, concise and unmistakable Definition Of Dones (DoDs),
- Guidelines to prioritize and estimate user stories and tasks,
- Guidelines, procedures and the level of details to create living documents,
- Tools to use and tools not to use (remember, sometimes less is more),
- Coding standards,
- Tools and guidelines to build/perform manual/automated tests and ensure quality,
- The process to resolve bugs,
- The process to handle change requests,
- The process to prepare to product increment demonstrations during Sprint Review Meetings,
- The process to handle the outcomes of each Scrum Ritual (Event),
- Frequency, depth, and duration of Backlog Refinement Meetings.
The Scrum Team as a whole is responsible for delivering the committed user stories in time and with the highest possible quality.
A good result or a failure is never attributed to a single team member but always the result of the Scrum Team.
Empowerment & Self-organization
The Scrum Team has to be empowered to define
- What the team commits to deliver at the end of the Sprint,
- How the committed user stories will be broken down into tasks,
- Who will perform a specific task and in which order the tasks are implemented.
Only if the Scrum Team is empowered to decide these and similar internal decisions, the team members will work with higher performance and motivation for the interest of their client stakeholders.
Balanced set of skills
Each Individual within the Scrum Team will most certainly have specialized skills, focus, and personal preference of interests. However, to achieve the best possible performance, your Scrum Team needs to have a balanced set of skills. Only then the Scrum Team will be able to deal with the ever-changing IT and business challenges, and they can act as autonomous as it is possible.
That means a Scrum Team should be multidisciplinary (designers, developers, testers, architects, etc.) right from the beginning. On the other hand, this also means that each team member should learn a little bit from each other’s specialization. For instance, to be able to finish a committed user story until the end of the Sprint, a developer should willingly write and execute tests, and consult the tester whenever necessary.
The roles of the Scrum Team members are not compartmentalized like the architect, the developer, the tester, and so on. They all share the same title, “Scrum Team Member” regardless of their core personal competencies.
Size of the Scrum Team
Scrum Teams are small. The ideal size is 7 +/- 2 people.
Note that if the Scrum Team contains more than nine members, your team will most probably suffer due to excessive overhead of alignment and communication. And yet, there is no one size ﬁts all answer. Your Scrum Teams may still productively function even if they have less than ﬁve or more than nine members.
The only way to ﬁnd this out is to test, learn, and adapt. If you ﬁnd out that a team of 13 people cannot perform well enough, then these Scrum Teams need to be split into two teams. These Scrum Teams should closely align, and they correlate their goals and user stories. Besides that, they work independently.
To minimize unnecessary communication overhead, each Scrum Team should be collocated. If the work has to spread over multiple geographical locations, independent Scrum Teams need to be created. These teams need to align and correlate their goals and user stories.
Responsibilities of the Scrum Team
The Scrum Team has specific responsibilities they need to fulfill:
- They have to breakdown the user stories, create tasks, define priorities and estimates, and they self-organize the implementation. In other words, they have to create, process, and deliver the Sprint Backlog.
- They have to perform Daily Scrum Meetings.
- They have to ensure that at the end of the Sprint, potentially shippable product increment is delivered and demonstrated.
- They have to update the status and the remaining work efforts for their tasks to allow the creation of a Sprint Burndown Diagram.
What Is The Role Of The Scrum Master? This Might Surprise You!
The Scrum Master serves all participants of a Scrum Project and the external stakeholders to comprehend and apply the Scrum Framework correctly.
He or she supports the Scrum Team to execute the Scrum Framework successfully and contributes them to improve their productivity and performance continuously.
The role of the Scrum Master is to establish the Scrum Process in its organization, the new way of thinking and acting.
Furthermore, the Scrum Master acts as a change agent. He or she coaches the team to develop new team norms and standards. The Scrum Master has its desk somewhere very close to the rest of the scrum team.
Essential tasks of a Scrum Master owner are:
- To establish the Scrum Framework in his or her business and IT ecosystem,
- To act as a change agent and support the adaptation of existing processes to maximize productivity of the Scrum Team.
- To coach the Scrum Team to understand and live the values of the Scrum Framework,
- To ensure efficient and close collaboration between the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team,
- To remove impediments which hinder the continuity of work,
- To lead progress of work by serving,
- To moderate the Scrum Rituals (Scrum Events).
- To guard the Scrum Team from external interference and interruptions while the team does work it has originally committed for a Sprint.
Easily Learn Scrum and Officially Prove Your Know how
To effectively do this work, a Scrum Master needs to possess savvy moderation and coaching skills. He or she needs to be a continuous learner to inspire others to learn, change, and grow.
To learn more about Scrum Master’s duties as a facilitator, I recommend you to have a look at this article: If I had 5 Minutes to explain Scrum Master As a Facilitator.
To learn more about Scrum Master’s duties as a facilitator, I recommend you to have a look at this article: If I had 5 Minutes to explain Scrum Master As a Facilitator.
The Scrum Master is part of the Scrum Team and acts as a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. In the beginning, this will be a full-time job so that the Scrum Master will not be able to contribute to the Sprint results directly. However, after a few Sprints, while the Scrum Team approach to the Performing phase of the Tuckman model, the initial workload as moderator and coach will reduce. So, the Scrum Master could actively contribute to the Sprint goals.
Since there must be trust between the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team members, it can always be a good idea that the Scrum Team chooses its Scrum Master. However, in reality, the management usually imposes who the Scrum Master will be. To get the required trust, the Scrum Master should have no line management responsibility above the Scrum Team members. Otherwise, open communication in the Scrum Team and joint ownership of work and decision-making ability of the Scrum Team can suffer.
Guarding The Scrum Team, Removing Impediments
An essential job of the Scrum Master is to safeguard the Scrum Team from a false sense of urgency. Line management and the Scrum Product Owner often attempt to add unplanned user stories to the Sprint Backlog while the team focuses on the work of a planned Sprint.
However, one of the critical aspects of the Scrum Framework is that all user stories are known and committed only during the Sprint Planning Meetings. The Scrum Team cannot be forced to take over new user stories. The job of the Scrum Master is to ensure that until the next Sprint Planning Meeting, these new user stories are stored in the Scrum Product Backlog.
Alternatively, if the ongoing Sprint does not make any business and/or technical sense to continue, it can be canceled, and a new Sprint can be planned.
Scrum Team members should only concentrate on delivering client value by building potentially shippable product increment. The Scrum Master helps by removing impediments that block or slow down the progress of work.
Examples of removing impediments could be:
- To arrange support, resources,
- To ﬁnd missing know how, and
- To do hands-on work to help the Scrum Team Members.
Scrum Master as a Change Agent
One of the cornerstones of the Scrum Framework is the continuous improvement through Inspect & Adapt.
The Scrum Master hosts and moderates the Scrum Retrospective Meeting, and his or her job is then to facilitate, control and measure the change of the identified shortcomings.
Facilitation of Scrum Rituals (Event)
The Scrum Framework defines several meetings that have to be organized and facilitated by the Scrum Master:
- Scrum Grooming (Backlog Refinement) Meetings,
- Sprint Planning Meetings
- Daily Scrum Meetings,
- Sprint Review Meetings, and
- Sprint Retrospective Meetings
What Is The Role Of The Scrum Product Owner? This Might Surprise You!
The Scrum Product Owner is a central role within the Scrum Framework. That role unifies product and project management tasks, and it’s also firmly integrated with software development and delivery.
The product owner’s role is far broader than traditional project management, program manager, or product management roles.
He or she represents the end customers and/or other stakeholders and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by ensuring that the Scrum Team delivers the right work at the right time. The Scrum Product Owner decides the software requirements provided for a speciﬁc software version, and when the software will be released. She represents functional and nonfunctional demands from end-users.
That means that the Scrum Product Owner has to work very closely with the Scrum Team and coordinates their activities over the entire lifecycle of the project. No one else is allowed to impose the Scrum Team to work for a different set of priorities.
Essential tasks of a Scrum Product owner are:
- To manage and clarify project requirements,
- To guide releases and to ensure return on investment (ROI),
- To closely work with the Scrum Team and enable it to deliver the correct work on time,
- To manage stakeholders and their expectations,
- To manage the Scrum Product Backlog.
The Scrum Product Owner can delegate certain activities (like physically maintaining the Scrum Product Backlog). However, he or she still owns the accountability of his or her tasks.
Managing the Product Backlog
The Scrum Product Owner is the only person allowed to own the contents of the Scrum Product Backlog. That means he or she needs to:
- Create, maintain and clearly describe user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog,
- Prioritize user stories to accomplish business goals and fulfil the mission of software product,
- Ensure that the Scrum Team correctly comprehends and implements the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog.
The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for reaching the project goals. He or she creates and maintains the release plan and decides about deliveries, end-user functions, and the order they need to be delivered. Scrum Product Owners often manage the costs and budget of Scrum Teams too. They collaborate with the Scrum Team members to ﬁne-tune, prioritize, and estimate user stories.
External stakeholders should not directly bring their demands to the Scrum Team members. Instead, the Scrum Product Owner should collect and assess required functionalities with the stakeholders (for instance, with internal clients, representatives of external clients or end-users). The Scrum Product Owner combines, filters and initially prioritize these user stories before they’re discussed them with the rest of the Scrum Team.
Collaboration With The Scrum Team
For a successful project, the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team must work very closely. The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team members are informed and aligned about the aimed goals of software they’re building.
During Sprint Review Meetings, the Scrum Product Owner is responsible for inspecting, accepting, or declining deliverables of the Scrum Team.
What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team Member? This Might Surprise You!
The Scrum Team Members implement the software. They jointly decide the number of requirements that they can undoubtedly deliver during a particular product increment called“Sprint”.
A high-performer scrum team has most of the software engineering skills typically in it. Software developers, architects, testers, database administrators, and team members from all other roles work together.
They jointly build and deliver great software their client is paying for.
Scrum team members do no longer belong to a functional silo of a matrix organization. Developers do no longer belong to software development competence centers, and testers do no longer belong to the software testing competence center, and so on.
Regardless of their past coordinates in the organization, members of a scrum team belong to their particular scrum project.
Now their job is to build the best possible software to deliver the requirements of their scrum product owner.
Characteristics of scrum teams are:
- Empowered and Autonomous,
- Self-organized and small
- Full-time participants
- Working in the same room
- One for all, all for one.
It’s an excellent time to remind that the Scrum Team members follow Scrum values persistently.