What is Scrum Team: Structure, Roles and Responsibilities

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. 

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. 

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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. 

The roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master 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 

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 

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.  

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 
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 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 Simplilearn’s CSM Certification page and get registered for the course. 

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad 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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