If you are fond of Rugby, scrum would be an easily recognizable term. The Scrum Team works similarly to the scrummage formation of rugby players, and the name is derived from the game. Scrum is a light-weight, easy-to-understand, but a difficult-to-master framework. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber developed it in the 1990s for the manufacturing sector. Now it has advanced as one of the most popular frameworks and a frequently used agile methodology in the software development industry.  

Although Scrum is recurrently used in the context of software development teams, its structure and principles are suited for all types of teamwork. Hence a Scrum Master certification opens up newer career avenues in multiple industries. Let us analyze how a Scrum Team works and define its roles and responsibilities. 

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What is Scrum? 

Scrum.org defines it as ‘a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.’ This is what best describes a scrum team. As per the Scrum team definition, they are cross-functional, highly productive, and self-organized teams that work together to deliver high-quality product increments. 

What is the Scrum Methodology? 

Scrum is an agile development methodology to address complex adaptive problems and deliver products of the highest possible value. It is a simple framework for effective collaboration among teams working on complex projects.  

What is a Scrum Team?

Typically, a Scrum Team includes five to eleven people who share the various tasks and responsibilities related to the delivery of the project/product. It is a group of self-motivated individuals who work collaboratively towards successful product delivery. A high level of communication is expected between the Scrum Team members to ensure they are focused on the same goal while maintaining mutual respect throughout the process. Also, they share a common set of norms and rules.  

The three pillars of a Scrum Team are as follows: 

  • Transparency

    Everyone in the team will have an easy and transparent flow of information about the common goal and the roles and responsibilities of each individual.  
  • Inspection

    All team members are entitled to do timely checks on the progress towards a common goal.  
  • Adaptation 

    An agile Scrum Team adapts to changes as soon as possible to optimize the product value. 

The Scrum Framework

The Scrum Team roles are categorized into three – Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the Development Team.  Each of the roles has a specific set of responsibilities throughout the project management cycle, although they are closely interrelated. 

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What is a Scrum Master?

The name was initially used to depict someone who has expertise in the Scrum framework so that they can teach others. In simple terms, the Scrum Master can be defined as the servant-leader of the Scrum Team. The individual is responsible for ensuring that the team adheres to the theory, practices, and rules of Scrum. It does not mean to enforce the rules on the team members, but to ensure that they understand the method, principles, and Scrum Team responsibilities. The Scrum Master provides a smooth process flow and enables continuous improvement. To gain further insight, you can also read about how to become a scrum master.

The Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities include: 

  • Maximizing the value created by the Scrum Team 
  • Setting the stage for the Scrum Team to work collaboratively and effectively 
  • Mentoring the team to comply with the agile principles 
  • Motivating and influencing at tactical and strategic levels
  • Establishing a good relationship between the team members as well as other stakeholders of the project who are not in the team
  • Addressing unproductive attitudes and dysfunctional behaviors 
  • Clearing the obstacles that limit the team’s productivity
  • Protecting the team from outside interruptions and distractions so that they can work efficiently 

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Benefits of a Scrum Team

Scrum promotes rapid and adequate progress toward project completion, and its use usually results in a higher-quality final output. Some of the most notable gains your company can expect from adopting an agile approach to project management are as follows:

1. Work Happens Simultaneously

Scrum teams perform parallel rather than sequential work on the many parts of a project. In this way, team members can make timely adjustments as they occur rather than waiting until the project is complete. 

Further, team communication is enhanced by working simultaneously, allowing for incorporating different viewpoints. There's no way this won't improve the final products. As a result, scrum teams generate better quality work and often complete their tasks more quickly.

2. Workflow Processes Are Made Clear

Scrum is a framework with guidelines for how teams should work together to achieve their goals. The Scrum process consists of multiple iterative steps, including planning the project, the release, the sprint, the daily Scrum, the sprint review, and the retrospective. These stages call for various forms of teamwork. 

E.g. iterative development periods range anywhere from one day to four weeks and are dedicated to producing products that can be delivered to customers. This makes the workflow more transparent to everyone involved because everyone knows what to expect from each phase and how they should contribute.

3. Return on Investment (ROI) Increases and Risk Decreases

The Return on Investment (ROI) typically rises when businesses use scrum teams. This is because the time and effort spent by groups using the Scrum methodology are better than those using other methods. In addition, it implies they are less likely to make pricey mistakes and may potentially require less human work in the long run. 

It is common for a company's return to increase when it invests less money to complete a high-value project. Further, if a business consistently employs a scrum team that improves ROI, the risk associated with investing in project management may be reduced.

4. Team Morale Improves

Inherently focused on the people using it, the Scrum framework and Agile principles are designed to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the team's collective efforts. As a result, scrum teams place a premium on in-person communication and teamwork, self-forming alliances, feedback loops, and long-term sustainability. 

Scrum also requires teams to reflect on their work to determine what is and isn't working and adjust the process accordingly.

3 Scrum Roles and Responsibilities, Explained

In Scrum, the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, and the Developers are each responsible for specific tasks. Therefore, a scrum team consists of all three individuals - 

1. Scrum Master

Typically, the scrum master is someone who has been trained or certified in the Scrum methodology. The rest of the team relies on their guidance as they use their knowledge to guide them through various procedures. A scrum master acts as the project's de facto foreman, guiding team members in the right direction and educating them on Scrum practices. The term "scrum master" refers to the one person in charge of a scrum team. A scrum master's responsibilities consist of:

  • Strategically inspiring your staff at the right moments
  • Realizing the Scrum framework and the basics of Agile
  • Creating a productive, cooperative setting for team members to work in
  • Keeping the team safe from anything that could disrupt their work
  • Guiding team members as they implement Agile practices
  • Facilitating positive interactions with all parties involved, including team members

2. Product Owner

The product owner's role in a scrum team is to ensure that valuable products are created. They are experts in monitoring development groups and examining project choices for consistency with team objectives. Product owners have an in-depth familiarity with business workflows and the importance of prioritizing the needs of customers. There usually is only one product owner on a scrum team, like there is only one scrum master. A product owner is responsible for a variety of things, including the following:

  • Project backlog management and order
  • Developing a product strategy and mission statement
  • Making an active effort to come up with answers for the development team
  • Streamlining the development process to increase product worth
  • Maintaining a lookout for active participation and needs from prospective customers
  • The method of analyzing return on investment and making recommendations to improve ROI for a project

3. Development Team

Professionals in the development team work to create a polished, potentially shippable deliverable at the end of each sprint. As a rule, the development team comprises people who work well together and are well-versed in areas like time management, organization, and issue solving. The development team's responsibilities are essential to scrum teams, and they include:

  • Resolving project issues in a realistic way
  • Accepting individual responsibility for a project's outcome
  • Cooperating as a group without formalized management or reporting structures
  • Taking a multidisciplinary approach helps ensure that projects are completed on time
  • Ensure shippable items are delivered on time during project iterations

The Product Owner 

The Product Owner is an individual in the Scrum Team who is responsible for maximizing the value of the product that results from the work of the Development Team. The individual should possess an in-depth understanding of the customer requirements and the relative business value of the product.  The Product Owner of a Scrum Team works similarly to a mini-CEO for the product. The individual makes sure that each decision aligns with the product vision, has an eye for opportunities, analyzes ROI, and reacts proactively to the possible threats and risks. In short, the person brings the customer’s perspective to the Team. 

The roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner are summarized below:

  • Optimizing the value of work done by the Development Team.
  • Creating a product vision and market strategy and ensuring that it aligns with customer requirements.
  • Solely responsible for ordering and managing the Product backlog. 
  • Expressing the Product  Backlog items clearly
  • Ensuring clarity, transparency, and visibility of the Product Backlog items to all 

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The Development Team

The Development Team comprises professionals who work to deliver a potentially releasable Increment of ‘Done’ product at the end of the Sprints. These team members are structured well and empowered by the organization for the management and organization of their work.  The Development Team members are collectively responsible for delivering the best results. 

The characteristics of the Development Team include:

  • They are self-organized and understand how to convert items in the Product backlog to practical solutions.
  • The Development Team will not encourage sub-teams. Regardless of the various domains of specialization such as testing, coding, etc., the responsibility of success and failure depends on the team and not the individuals responsible for it. But the team will have individuals with expertise on special roles like business analysis, architecture, testing, etc. 
  • The members do not take individual titles, and everyone is identified as part of the Development Team only. 
  • They work cross-functionally, and the team will possess the necessary skills to create the desired increment.
  • The Development Team, as a whole, is held accountable for the project and not individuals possessing specific skill sets.  

Scrum Team Product Owner Role and Accountabilities

1. Product Owner Authority

The product owner is responsible for articulating the product's "why," "who," and "what," or the reasons for developing the product, its intended users, and their desired capabilities. However, when making strategic and tactical product decisions, the buck stops with the product's owners, who take full responsibility for the outcome.

2. Product Owner Responsibility

The product owner's duties extend beyond only managing the product backlog. The product owner's primary role is to increase the product's worth to the company, its customers, and its end users. Therefore, the ability to say "no" is necessary and as important as advocating for a vision and engaging with stakeholders and customers.

3. Product Owner Tasks

The following are the tasks performed by product owners in Scrum to accomplish these goals:

  • Establish targets for your product
  • Discuss and settle on sprint objectives with the coders
  • Gather user, consumer, and stakeholder reactions to product iterations
  • Be sure that the product backlog is full of items that have been appropriately defined and will contribute to the product's end goal
  • Maintain a working backlog by updating and improving it with the developers regularly

Product owners are responsible for all of the tasks mentioned above and research to inform product strategy. Key performance indicators and a regularly updated product plan and roadmap are two examples of how this might be done.

Why Is Scrum a Success? 

One of the key benefits of using Scrum methodology is that it facilitates the fast release of the product with enhanced value. In a Scrum Team, the work happens simultaneously but not sequentially. This gives the team a more exceptional ability to make changes during the lifetime of the project and not at its end. 

The Development Team works with a motto - “All for one and one for all.” It is group work; hence you can ensure faster completion time with better quality. In total, all these factors lead to higher customer satisfaction. 

The various reasons that make Scrum a success are summarized below: 

  • Increased ROI 
  • Decrease time to market 
  • Better team morale 
  • Promote team collaboration 
  • Decreased risk 

FAQs

1. How much does a Scrum Master make?‎

According to Glassdoor.com, the average yearly income for a Scrum Master is $101,087 for an entry-level position and $117,062 for a Senior Scrum Master.

2. Should Scrum roles be merged?‎

Scrum roles must never be combined. For example, a combined Product Owner and Scrum Master may consume more time glorifying the product than removing roadblocks or enabling team discussions.

3. Is a Scrum Master a project manager?‎

Scrum Masters and project managers can serve as Scrum Masters, although the roles are distinct. Project managers oversee various endeavors, while Scrum Masters focus exclusively on Scrum teams.

4. Who needs a Scrum Master?‎

A Scrum Master is necessary to ensure that Scrum is practiced following the guidelines in the Scrum Guide. If no team member has ever used Scrum before, the Scrum Master's role can become even more critical. 

However, if a team has sufficient prior experience with Scrum, they may be able to function effectively without a dedicated Scrum Master. Some companies use internal project managers to kick off a Scrum team's efforts.

Take a step closer to becoming a certified ScrumMaster with these CSM Exam Questions. Try answering and assess your understanding. 

Winding Up

Scrum is the most widely-used framework based on agile values and principles to optimize the value of deliverables.  There are many compelling reasons to explore a certification course in Scrum agile methodology. Becoming a Certified Scrum Master not only helps you to acquire the skills and principles of Scrum but also expands your agile career opportunities significantly. It is a recognition that you have mastered the required skills to establish and manage a Scrum environment. 

Want to know more about the Certified Scrum Master training course? You can visit the CSM Certification page and get registered for the course. 

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital marketer with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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