Scrum Roles and Responsibilities

At the centre of each Scrum is a small team of people called the Scrum Team. The Scrum Team is made up of three key roles which include the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and the team of Developers. They are the people who carry out the tasks required to complete each Sprint. 

The Scrum Roles are different from traditional project roles and, it’s therefore fundamental for organisations using Scrum to understand each of these roles to aid the success of the Sprints. Let’s take a look at the three Scrum Roles and the key responsibilities of each in more detail.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is just one person within the team who can be considered the protector. 

The Scrum Master has two key responsibilities in their role. Firstly, they are in charge of establishing Scrum as defined by the Scrum Guide and protecting it by ensuring the team is adhering to the Scrum rules. They don’t provide input when it comes to decisions on the development of the product, but rather act as a coach and mentor for Scrum theory and practice.

Secondly, the Scrum Master is accountable for ensuring and protecting the efficiency of the Scrum Team. This includes day-to-day working, such as eliminating distractions and ensuring the team’s focus remains on the task at hand. In addition, they must ensure all Scrum events are positive, productive and kept within the assigned timebox.

Some key responsibilities of The Scrum Master are outlined below: 

  • Coaching the organisation and its employees in the adoption of Scrum. 
  • Facilitating Daily Scrum meetings. 
  • Ensuring that any impediment to the Scrum team’s progress will be removed. 
  • Facilitating stakeholder collaboration and removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum teams. 

These points might differ slightly depending on the organisation and team.

Product Owner

The Product Owner role is at the heart of providing business value. They are accountable for maximising the success of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. As such, they are responsible for defining and prioritising the work that needs to be carried out by the team.

The Product Owner is just one person but is often representative of various key stakeholders. It’s crucial for them to bridge the relationship between the Scrum Team and the stakeholders.

It’s also worth noting that the role of the Product Owner can vary depending on the specific organisation, in addition to the individual team. But broadly speaking, the Product Owner is likely to be accountable for the following:

  • Developing and communicating the product objectives. 
  • Ensuring output of the Scrum Team’s work aligns with the outlined product objectives. 
  • Reviewing and reprioritizing outstanding work depending on any changes in needs and ongoing feedback. 
  • Communicating clearly with the team about any changes to priorities.  

The Product Owner may take these responsibilities on themselves or they may delegate the work, however, they remain accountable.

Developers

The team of Developers is made up of a small number of people with complimenting skillsets. As the name would suggest, they carry out the hands-on work in developing the product and achieving the Sprint goals. 

The specific skills required from the Development Team can vary from architects, testers, developers, marketers and designers. Their key responsibilities can also differ depending on the end goal of the Sprint. However, broadly speaking the Development Team is usually accountable for the following tasks: 

  • Creating a plan for the Sprint and goal setting. 
  • Adapting their plan daily to adhere to the Sprint goal.
  • Providing expertise in designing, programming and evolving products.
  • Test products and prototypes for a high level of quality assurance.

Summary of the Scrum Roles

In summary, each of the Scrum Roles plays a vital part in achieving the Sprint Goals. It’s important for organisations to understand and clearly define roles within the team allowing them to work harmoniously together.

It’s also worth noting that Scrum Teams are typically made up of 10 or fewer people. This tends to be optimum for efficient communication and productivity. If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganising into multiple Scrum Teams, each focusing on the same product.