Understanding Scrum Team in an Agile Environment

• Agile,Project

Scrum has become a very popular product development framework in recent years. The reason for the framework’s success is that it assigns clear roles and responsibilities and provides tools to facilitate collaboration and teamwork. Inspired by the Agile philosophy, the Scrum framework is often used by software development teams and is equally effective in any other department.

In the following sections, we’ll go through the major roles and responsibilities in a scrum team and understand how they help in effective project management.

What is a scrum team?

The scrum team consists of a scrum master, product owner, the development team, and others. All members of the team have clearly defined roles and responsibilities that they continuously have to fulfill to ensure project success. The scrum framework proposes a repetitive and iterative workflow in the form of short ‘sprints’, which allows team members to perform consistently and in continuous increments without issues.

How does a Scrum Team operate?

Scrum teams are self-organizing and work with minimal oversight. There are few norms and rules that every Scrum Team decides and adheres to. The team decides the tools it’s going to choose for the project and the schedule for daily Scrum meetings. They also agree on the ‘Definition of Done’ (DoD) before starting the project to leave out any confusion and allow everyone to have a clear idea of how the final product must look like.

The Product Owner

The Product Owner controls the final shape of the project and owns the way the product will look like upon completion. The product owner will determine what features the product will have and the rest of the team incorporates them in the final version.

The Product Owner decides what product increments and iterations are of high value and what should be reserved for upcoming sprints. They continuously keep an eye on the backlog, decide priorities, and make sure that everyone in the team understands the objectives clearly.

The Product Owner must have a clear understanding of the business, the market, and the customer. Their decisions have to be informed by a sound knowledge of the nature of the business, the behavior of the market, and the needs of the customers. They have to exercise significant authority with regards to control over the product features.

Roles and responsibilities of product owners

Product Owners have the following responsibilities:

  • Making sure that the team knows the backlogs items
  • Prioritizing backlog items in a way that helps achieve milestones efficiently
  • Representing the requirements of the customers
  • Communicating effectively with different stakeholders
  • Deciding what features will be included/excluded from the final product

The Scrum Master

The scrum master ensures that the scrum team adheres to the values and principles of Agile and follows the agreed-upon processes. The position of a scrum master is also sometimes referred to as an agile coach or iteration manager. In addition to steering the scrum team in the right direction and facilitating their work, scrum masters are also responsible for optimizing the Scrum team’s work to maximize productivity.

Roles and responsibilities of the scrum master

Scrum Masters have the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Clear hurdles and obstacles that might hinder the team’s progress
  • Establish a supportive environment that enables a team to be effective
  • Protect the team from distractions and help them stay focused
  • Facilitate improvements, interactions, and conversations
  • Reinforce Agile principles and makes sure the team sticks to them
  • Ensure collaboration and communication between the Development Team and the Product Owner

The Development Team

The Development Team is assigned to deliver the improvements and increments outlined by the product owner for each sprint. It is the Development Team that has to deliver the final product to the client with all its committed features. It is up to the Development Team to determine the mechanism and process for ensuring the deliverables.

As per the Scrum values, the development team has much flexibility inside its structure and operates without a hierarchy. The team is empowered to manage its work and organize itself efficiently.

Team structure

The development teams usually operate as small autonomous units and where the whole team is held accountable. That’s why all the team members must have common goals and they must work together to achieve the goals within deadlines.

The development teams are always structured in a way that different skill sets are balanced within the team. It is important that the team consists of somewhere between three to nine individuals. A team too small might be insufficient to tackle the emerging demands and a larger team might find it hard to effectively communicate and collaborate.

Roles and responsibilities of the development team

The Development Team must perform the following roles:

  • Break down the tasks into simple action items
  • Distribute those action items among team members
  • Estimate time for completion of tasks
  • Perform regular sprint meetings
  • Ensure that increments have been incorporated in the product by the end of each sprint

Key takeaways

The scrum framework gives the ultimate freedom to the organization to enhance its productivity while retaining its uniqueness. The transparency, visibility, and a sense of ownership fostered by scrum is globally recognized by many industries. A scrum team plays an important role in this process and facilitates productivity and growth. The iterative nature of the methodology scrum teams follows also helps in maintaining a cycle of continuous improvement.