In Scrum it’s about teams and the roles of the team members. Remember: we have to work together to build a good product and we aren’t expected to work against each other, neither a coworker nor the customer, to deliver the best possible outcome in this game of software delivery.
First thing is the Scrum team itself. It is an internal team. Most likely every team member is assigned exactly one role (see below) and while it is possible to assign more then one role to a single person, I’d strongly advice against to keep the focus on point.
The team is cross-functional, it can work on its own and does not have dependencies to outside of the team. Also, the team is self-organized, saying that it is not managed from outside. It is responsible on its own for its success and the success of the whole project.
Teams are meant to work in a flexible, creative and productive way. Later we will see how we try to archive that in more detail.
Noticed the word “internal” above? We talk about people from your company, people you work with. Of course there are other people with a given interest in the project. Those are external stakeholders and we won’t talk much about them as they do not play a big part in the way Scrum works – although it is easier if they understand how Scrum works and maybe even adopt parts of the methodology. And please also note that the customer in this context may even be another part of your own company, not only an strictly external stakeholder.
The roles within the team
Important fact here: the team consists of exactly and always and only three roles which are the product owner, the scrum master and the development team. We will talk about each one now in more detail. Please remember that it is possible that a single team member has more than one role, so that the product owner or the scrum master may be part of the development team for example. Also remember that this is not encouraged to not lose focus.
The Development Team
The tasks which the team is to deliver are organized within the product backlog. Slowly transforming those items into working software, that’s what the development team does. Furthermore the team is responsible itself for correct delivery as it acts autonomously (self-organized, see above). The team acts, succeeds and fails as a whole. The development team does not receive orders from someone outside. The team members know what to do and are able to do so in an adequate way. The price for this freedom is the responsibility to deliver working software.
There are no specialized roles within the team. No testers or front end developers. All members have the same role of a development team member as titles would weaken the team spirit. Each member is responsible to the same amount for the output created.
The team size is in between 3-9 people who work full-time on the project. In a project, there can be more than one team (“scaled scrum”). The teams work in sync and are connected to the time box the sprint sets. Technical knowledge is in the teams.
The team estimates the items when they select them for a sprint (details on this can be found later). They also measure the Sprint performance (and also here: see later).
The Product Owner
This is the management guy from your company. For a product there can be only one owner, even when having several development teams ready. The product owner takes care of the backlog items, or in other words: the tasks to be done to get the product ready and also the order (and therefore priority) of those tasks. The product owner must be capable of explaining the meaning of every single backlog item to other team members and to understand its value for the finished product.
Soft skills are: talking effectively with the customer and understand the requirements. The product owner has the final say in any decision related to his product and he is the single source of truth for the development team. He stays accountable for the success of the product. His job is also to measure the project performance. We’ll see later how this is done.
For smaller products this may be a part time job. The product owner is the link to management. He is respected by everyone and can delegate tasks to the team.
The Scrum Master
In any environment to the scrum team there is the danger that resources outside influence the teams productivity in a bad way. The Scrum Master has a communicative role, he must take care of the whole process and helps all members of the company to understand and follow the ideas of Scrum. This may mean help in understanding how to work with a scrum team from within other teams not following the agile approach. This may mean to coach team members and to manage the scrum workflow.
A scrum master can work part-time and can be part in more than one team. It is considered a management position in terms of “managing the process”. He ensures that Scrum is understood and enacted, he helps any team member with his knowledge in techniques and also helps the organization to adopt Scrum.
The Scrum Master is not a project manager nor a team leader but an organizator.
How these roles play together will be explained in the next blog posts when we will talk about scrum events and artifacts.