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The Roles in Scrum: Are you a Chicken or a Pig?

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 10/24/2013

Scrum, first invented for software development, is being used effectively in project management. Scrum roles like the ScrumMaster, Pigs, and Chickens play an important part in the scrum process. Learn what the roles mean and how they intertwine.

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    Why Pigs and Chickens?

    Pigs and Chickens by Merwing Little Dear The Scrum framework includes dedicated people or teams, who are known as pigs or chickens, and the ScrumMaster. While it sounds strange, if you look at the idea behind Scrum, it makes sense. The roles of chickens and pigs was based on an old joke:

    "A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The chicken looks at the pig and says, "Hey why don't we open a restaurant?" The pig looks back at the chicken and says, "Good idea, what do you want to call it? The chicken thinks about it and says, "Why don't we call it 'Ham and Eggs'?" "I don't think so," says the pig, "I'd be committed but you'd only be involved."

    So, the pigs build or manage a project using Scrum, while the chickens have an interest but aren't responsible for the project whether it succeeds or fails. Chickens do have a role; however. They provide important feedback to the project. A project that will produce a key chain with a client's logo, will use pigs, who are the development team; the chickens represent the vendors who will be responsible for selling that key chain. Chicken roles are designed to help the pigs stay on track.

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    Defining Scrum Roles

    Each scrum role has a specific job in the project in order for it to succeed. A scrum role list might look like this:

    Pig Roles:

    • Client - The client will be the owner of the finished product. It is his idea the ScrumMaster and team will use to develop the product. The client's role in Scrum is to ensure the project's team is utilizing the correct or best methods for the project.
    • ScrumMaster - The ScrumMaster oversees the project, but doesn't manage the team. Instead, the ScrumMaster is a sort of cushion between the client and the team. The ScrumMaster is responsible for setting the rules of the project, but not the delivery of the project.
    • Team - The team is made up of team members with the appropriate skill sets to complete the project and perform the actual work. They are responsible for delivering the product and each team member intertwines throughout the duration of the project as it reaches its goal.

    Chicken Roles:

    • Users - The users are considered the people or places that will utilize the product or service that is being created. In our key chain example, users would actually "use" the product.
    • Stakeholders - The stakeholders, or vendors who sell the key chain have an interest in its development but only offer overall feedback at project meetings.
    • Managers - The managers develop how the key chain will be offered, advertised, and the environment used to facilitate its offering.
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    Working Together

    If the people and teams involved in the pig roles don't or can't deliver, they must begin again or lose the project. Those involved in chicken roles offer feedback and suggestions, and they provide an arena for the product's outcome; they don't lose if the project fails. They await a new pig outcome in the Scrum process.

    For more information on how to identify Scrum roles throughout projects, click to view Scrum, An Agile Management Process. This guide offers useful tips for project managers on how Scrum works and ensures everyone involved knows their specific role throughout the Scrum process.