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3 Scrum Team Roles and Responsibilities

When implementing Scrum for the first time, it can get a bit confusing on how to apply the Scrum Team roles in the most effective manner. Should all team members get new titles, should new people be added to the team, or should everything remain the same?

To make sure you have a smooth transition, let’s explore these questions as well as look over what each Scrum Team role is meant for.

Before we begin, check out this article if you want more information on Scrum as a practice:

What is Scrum?

What are the Scrum Team Roles?

To better understand the Scrum Team roles, let us first define what is a Scrum Team. According to the Scrum guide:

The Scrum Team is a fundamental unit of Scrum. It is a cohesive unit of professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal.

So, A Scrum Team is a small cross-functional and self-managing group of people able to create value during each Sprint. It is the Scrum Team that decides what is being done, by who, and when. To keep such a team effective, it is recommended that it is composed of no more than 10 people. This means dividing larger teams into several units using the same Product Goal, Backlog, and Owner.

The Scrum Team is responsible for all product-related activities and executes them within the structure of Sprints. There are 3 key accountabilities defined as the Scrum Team roles – Developers, Product Owner, and Scrum Master.

scrum team roles

Let’s see what each of them is about.

The Developers

Developers are the people in the Scrum Team that are committed to creating any aspect of a usable Increment each Sprint.

The Developers are the largest group of people on any Scrum Team. These are the team members that actually complete the Product Increment during the Sprint.

Despite the name, these can be any type of professionals that are required for the product – from engineering to marketing. Developers is simply the name reflecting the development of the Product Increment during a Sprint.

The Developers Responsibilities

  1. Curating the Sprint Backlog – Pulling prioritized items from the Product Backlog and creating a plan on how to execute them.
  2. Going by the Definition of Done – Ensuring all the tasks are completed to the same standard and meets the Definition of Done.
  3. Adapting to meet the Sprint Goal – Using the Daily Standup to track progress and adjust the plans when needed.
  4. Holding each other accountable – Maintaining the standards and professionalism amongst each other.

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Product Owner

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team.

The Product Owner is 1 person on the team responsible for the outcome of the product. It is their responsibility to prioritize and communicate the stakeholder needs to the Scrum Team.

To do so, the Product Owner registers all the required improvements in the Product Backlog, adds information to make them understandable, and prioritizes them for the team. Using the Product Backlog, Product Goal, and Product Increments they are maximizing the value of the product.

It is important to understand that the Product Owner is not in charge of the Scrum Team. Their main responsibility is to effectively communicate the Product Goal and priorities. While the Developers organize themselves in trying to reach this goal.

The Product Owner Responsibilities

  1. Developing and communicating the Product Goal – Evaluating the stakeholder needs, team capabilities and providing the guidance for the Scrum Team.
  2. Creating the Product Backlog items – Turning the clients needs into clear items that can be taken on by the team.
  3. Prioritizing the Product Backlog – Ordering the items to ensure the Developers know which are priority and most important.
  4. Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood – Presenting and adjusting the Product Backlog to make sure the information is clear to everyone.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide within the Scrum Team and the organization.

The Scrum Master is the third and last of the 3 Scrum roles. This is also a 1-person role that supports the Scrum Team in the implementation of Scrum.

It is important to understand that this role is intended as a master of Scrum, not a master of the Scrum Team. And as such, this should be filled by the most knowledgable Scrum practitioner on the team, not just offloaded to the former manager. The Scrum Master’s role is to help the team to understand Scrum and improve their practices in order to present better results.

The Scrum Master Responsibilities

  1. Helping the Scrum Team – Tis is achieved through coaching them in self-management and cross-functionality, helping to focus on creating valuable increments, and assiting in executing the Scrum events.
  2. Helping the Product Owner – Assisting in Product Goal and Backlog management, helping with empirical product planning, and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.
  3. Helping the organization – Leading and training in Scrum adoption, advising on the Scrum implementations, helping the employees and stakeholders understand the empirincal approach and remove barriers.

You can often find Scrum Masters working in several teams at a time and helping organizations go through the Scrum transformation.

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Scrum Team Roles vs Job Titles

So, now that you know what the Scrum Team roles entail, you may be thinking, but what about the job titles of my team? Should they be changed? Do I need additional people to take the Product Owner and the Scrum Master roles? What other changes are there?

Well, the short answer is none. Adding in the Scrum roles does not change the job titles of the team members and it does not require additional people as long as your current team has the experience for the newly added responsibilities. If you already have all the competencies in your current team, simply assign the roles to the team members and begin your Scrum journey.

However, if you are unsure about certain roles, consider asking for help. For most new Scrum Teams the most important and difficult-to-fill role is the one of a Scrum Master. As it requires quite a bit of knowledge and experience with Scrum. Thus, you will often see organizations and teams adding in outside experts to help them set up the initial process.

In such cases, the Scrum Master role is filled by an outside consultant that helps the entire organization during the transformation. They then coach the current team members who gradually take over the roles themselves.

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