Contents

Scrum Roles & Responsibilities

Describes the Scrum roles, responsibilities and commitment of anyone in those roles. Most of this content came from The Scrum Guide and I added some additional content based on lessons learned and good practices.

Describes the Scrum roles, responsibilities and commitment of anyone in those roles. Most of this content came from The Scrum Guide and I added some additional content based on lessons learned and good practices.

The reason that I put this article together is to provide a solid touchstone on one of Scrum’s most fundamental aspects, based on THE industry standard. Scrum roles based on The Scrum Guide is what makes Scrum, Scrum. It’s what makes Scrum significantly better than any other management framework, and is essential to greater success that can be achieved with the Scrum framework and Agile principles and values in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

I’ve also added some additional content to further clarify the roles and included some additional specifics that are relevant in most environments, based on lessons learned and good practices.

I originally wrote this article in 2015 and only published it on private company wikis. I’m publishing it publicly for the first time in 2019, here on my blog.

Learn More:

  • Agile PM book – Chapter 6: Putting Agile into Action: The Behaviors > Establishing Agile Roles, Kindle location 2338.
  • Scrum Guide – The Scrum Team, page 5.  

Scrum Master:

Can be abbreviated as SM.

Requirements:

  • Scrum Master and Product Owner cannot be the same person.  
    This is because it would create an inherent conflict of interest, putting Scrum Master responsibilities at odds with Product Owner responsibilities.  Also combining the 2 roles in 1 person would effectively create a old school waterfall project manager, which is an inherently conflicted role and is one of the many reasons why waterfall more often fails.
  • Should have experience and training in using the Scrum framework.

Responsibilities:

  • Ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. By ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules.
  • Is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team.
  • Helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t.
  • Helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.
  • Facilitate all Scrum events including all Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospectives meetings & any others requested by the Scrum team.
  • Help the team curate their team’s wiki space content, to ensure it is useful, organized and easy to find the right content.
  • Publish results in the wiki of Scrum events such as Sprint Reviews & Sprint Retrospectives.

Other responsibilities:

This is not a complete list, but it’s listed here to provide some guidance for those new to the role.  Scrum Masters and Product Owners can decide what delegation of responsibilities works best for them.

  • Share your team’s Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives in your team’s wiki space.
  • Share your team’s Scrum meetings on a Shared Calendar.
  • Attend Scrum Of Scrums meetings.
  • Keep your team’s info up to date on a shared wiki, Fuel or Confluence page.  As team members and roles change, update this.
  • Keep your team’s e-mail Distribution List up to date.
  • Help your team and Product Owner maintain the health of your Backlogs.

Scrum Master service to the Product Owner:

  • Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management.
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items.
  • Understanding product planning in an empirical environment.
  • Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value.
  • Understanding and practicing agility.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.

Scrum Master service to the Development Team:

  • Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality.
  • Helping the Development Team to create high-value products.
  • Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
  • Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.

Scrum Master service to the Organization:

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption.
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization.
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development.
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team.
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

Commitment:

  • Required to facilitate all Scrum events including all Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospectives meetings & any others requested by the Scrum team.
  • No more than 3 Scrum teams per Scrum Master.

Product Owner:

Can be abbreviated as PO.

Requirements:

  • Scrum Master and Product Owner cannot be the same person.  
    This is because it would create an inherent conflict of interest, putting Scrum Master responsibilities at odds with Product Owner responsibilities.  Also combining the 2 roles in 1 person would effectively create a old school waterfall project manager, which is an inherently conflicted role and is one of the many reasons why waterfall more often fails.
  • Should have experience and training in using the Scrum framework.

Responsibilities:

  • Maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team.
  • Responsible for managing the Product Backlog for the Scrum team.
  • Responsible for representing to the Scrum team, the goals of all stakeholders including Product Managers, executives, customers, etc.  
  • Must balance and negotiate the differing goals, interests, agendas and opinions of the stakeholders, to present a single and consistent view to the Scrum team.
  • If the Scrum team is part of a program involving multiple teams, coordinates with other Product Owners on program wide goals, to ensure Scrum team goals align with the program.
  • The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the desires of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those wanting to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner.
  • For the Product Owner to succeed, the entire organization must respect his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one is allowed to tell the Development Team to work from a different set of requirements, and the Development Team isn’t allowed to act on what anyone else says.
  • Help the team curate their Jive space content, to ensure it is useful, organized and easy to find the right content.

Other responsibilities:

This is not a complete list, but it’s listed here to provide some guidance for those new to the role. Scrum Masters and Product Owners can decide what delegation of responsibilities works best for them.

  • Create and share your team’s Program Increment Review content in your team’s wiki space.
  • Attend Scrum Of Scrums meetings.
  • Help your team and Scrum Master maintain the health of your Backlogs.

Product backlog management responsibilities includes:

  • Clearly expressing Product Backlog items.
  • Ranking the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions.
  • Typically this includes work details captured in the Product Backlog down to and including the Features level of the Backlog hierarchy.
  • Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs.
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next.
  • Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.
  • The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it.  However, the Product Owner remains accountable.

Commitment:

  • Required to participate in Scrum events including all Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Backlog grooming meetings.
  • No more than 2 Scrum teams per Product Owner.

Development Team:

Development Team is the term that The Scrum Guide uses to describe anyone that does any work on a Scrum team.  For example, it includes not just developers but also QA, writers, release engineers, and more.

Responsibilities:

  • Delivering a potentially releasable product increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint.
  • Only members of the Development Team create the product increment.
  • Development Teams are structured and empowered by the organization to organize and manage their own work. The resulting synergy optimizes the Development Team’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Typically they are responsible for work details captured in the Product Backlog from below the Features level of the Backlog hierarchy and down, which includes Work Stories and Tasks.

Development Teams have the following characteristics:

  • They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master nor the Product Owner) tells the Development Team how to turn the Product Backlog into increments of potentially releasable functionality.
  • Development Teams are cross-functional, with all of the skills as a team necessary to create a product increment.
  • Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members, regardless of the work being performed by the person.
  • Scrum recognizes no sub-teams in the Development Team, regardless of particular domains that need to be addressed like testing or business analysis.
  • Individual Development Team members may have specialized skills and areas of focus, but accountability belongs to the Development Team as a whole.

Commitment:

  • Each team member is full time to 1 Scrum team, to minimize waste due to multi-tasking and context switching.
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