Scrum Roles: The Anatomy of a Scrum Team

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Thanks to the evolution of modern business practices, agile, an iterative approach to project management, is on the mind of nearly every manager. Agile has migrated from software development to touch just about every corner of the project management universe, and scrum is one of the most popular frameworks for implementing it.

Scrum works so well with agile because it allows team members to “address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”

So, if you want to take advantage of this agile framework you’ll probably be wondering, “What is scrum? What is a scrum team? and what are the roles that make up that team?” Let’s begin by briefly defining scrum.

What Is Scrum?

Scrum is a simple project management framework that facilitates team collaboration on complex projects and products. Scrum it’s commonly used for product management and software development.

It’s important to understand that scrum is not a project management methodology; it is a framework for putting the agile methodology into practice. Scrum replaces the algorithmic approaches used in waterfall projects with agile project management and product development model.

Before we continue, let’s define some basic concepts that are necessary to understand the scrum process.

  • Scrum team: Scrum teams consist of a product owner, a scrum master and the development team. We’ll define these scrum roles and responsibilities in the section below.
  • Scrum events: There are four scrum events that occur in each sprint. Sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review and scrum retrospective. They’re also called scrum ceremonies as defined by Scrum Alliance.
  • Agile sprints: Sprints are an essential element of the scrum process. Each sprint is a defined time period in which the scrum team works to accomplish the tasks in the product backlog and specific goals defined by the team members during sprint planning.
  • Product backlog: The product backlog is a task list that is used to organize the work or user stories that need to be executed.
  • User stories: User stories are product features or product improvements. They are called user stories because they’re defined from the user perspective, and not from the eyes of the development team.

When scrum is implemented, scrum teams use project management tools to facilitate the agile process. ProjectManager is cloud-based project management software that’s flexible enough for traditional, agile and hybrid teams. Scrum teams use our kanban boards to manage their backlog and collaborate on sprints. The product owner gets visibility into their process and can reallocate resources as necessary to avoid any bottlenecks in the team’s work. It’s a win-win situation for the entire scrum team. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's kanban board
ProjectManager has kanban boards to help scrum teams and product owners work more efficiently. Learn more.

Scrum Roles and Responsibilities

If you’re interested in using the scrum framework, you need to understand the scrum roles and responsibilities. As stated above, there are only three major roles on a scrum team, and these roles don’t necessarily align with traditional project management methodologies. Let’s examine each role for a more complete understanding of the structure of a scrum team.

1. Product Owner

The product owner makes all the product development decisions such as defining the product features and sprint planning goals. This person has the product vision and is responsible for defining the work and prioritizing tasks. Product owners are clear on the project goals and customer needs. They communicate them to the scrum team and guide them through the project.

Let’s go over the main responsibilities of the product owner role to learn more about this scrum team member.

Product Owner Responsibilities

  1. Managing the product backlog
  2. Release management
  3. Stakeholder management
  4. Define product goals and product features to create a realistic product backlog with the scrum team
  5. Collect user feedback from sprint reviews to make product backlog decisions.

2. Scrum Master

Scrum masters provide guidance to the scrum team. They make sure the development team focuses without being distracted by an overreaching product owner, from the organization or internal factors. The scrum master also leads a daily scrum meeting to make sure everyone is working within the scrum framework. Unlike a project manager, who manages a project, the scrum master cooperates with product owners and guides the development team members who work autonomously.

Let’s go over the main responsibilities of the scrum master role to learn more about this scrum team member.

Scrum Master Responsibilities

  1. Lead scrum events: Sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review and scrum retrospective.
  2. Help everyone in the scrum team understand the product backlog and facilitate a consensus between product managers and development teams
  3. Promote the use of the scrum method in organizations
  4. Coach the development team in self-organization and cross-functionality to facilitate team collaboration

3. Development Team

The development team is responsible for doing the project work. They work collectively to figure out how to achieve their goals. Priorities are set by the product owner while work is monitored by the scrum master. Scrum development teams are self-managed and depend on strong bonds, empowerment and a positive work environment.

Let’s go over the main responsibilities of the development team role to learn more about these scrum team members.

Development Team Responsibilities

  1. Accomplishing the goals defined by the scrum team in the product backlog
  2. Attend scrum events and follow the directions of the product owner and scrum master
  3. Provide feedback to help product owners and scrum masters set realistic product goals

Best Practices for Scrum Teams

Scrum is a great agile framework that facilitates project planning and product development. However, assembling and managing a scrum team is not an easy task. Here are the most basic rules that you’ll need to know before leading your scrum team.

1. Scrum Team Values

In 2016, the scrum values were added to the Scrum Guide. These team values include courage, focus, commitment, respect and openness. Let’s dig a little deeper into those values:

  1. Courage, as in courage to do the right thing
  2. Focus, as in focusing on sprints (short iterations)
  3. Commitment, as in commitment to the goals of the scrum team
  4. Respect, as in respect for each team member
  5. Openness, as in openness about the challenges and performance of the work

2. Scrum Teams are Self-Organizing

Scrum teams must be as autonomous as possible without requiring micro-management for task management. Scrum team members use scrum boards and other agile tools to manage their work. They are self-organizing and too much hierarchical pressure is going to be counterproductive. Therefore, the skill sets of the team members of a scrum team must be balanced, so they all work separately but together.

3. Scrum Team Size

Scrum teams are small, usually with five to nine people, with seven being the ideal. There are no sub-teams. The people who make up the scrum teamwork full-time, ideally in the same office. If the work must be conducted over various locations, then each of those sites should have its own scrum team.

If you’re looking for a tool to support the autonomy of your scrum team, then ProjectManager is for you. Our cloud-based project management software is designed to foster collaboration and give scrum teams the tools they need to take control of a project. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.

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