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Understanding Scrum - Team Roles and Responsibilities

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 5/29/2013

While you may be familiar with some of the roles and responsibility names in a Scrum team - ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Tester, Builder, etc., do you understand what the responsibilities of these roles consist of? Find out in this Bright Hub article by Ronda Bowen.

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    Members of the Team

    Recapping from my article on Scrum methodology, the most visible members of the Scrum team are:

    • ScrumMaster
    • Product Owner
    • Team

    You may have noticed in one of the articles on receiving certification as a ScrumMaster that there are other roles involved as well in the Scrum environment. These roles also play into Scrum environments, but will only be treated briefly in this article.

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    The ScrumMaster

    If you're like many, you may think the term "ScrumMaster" conjures a picture of a person with a wand. Well, the ScrumMaster isn't too off from this visualization. The ScrumMaster coaches the Scrum team in its endeavors and ensures that the Scrum methodology is properly implemented during the project. The ScrumMaster also instructs the team in productivity principles and organizes the Scrum environment. Finally, the ScrumMaster helps to remove any obstacles a team may face during a Sprint. In this way, the ScrumMaster is both a leader and a follower within a Scrum project environment.

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    The Product Owner

    While the ScrumMaster ultimately serves as a facilitator for the Scrum project environment, the Product Owner is the sole person responsible for maintaining the Product Backlog and checking on the quality of the team's work. Because of the Product Owner's role, everyone on the team knows what is expected of them, what items have been given the highest priority, and what should be worked on during the Sprint. The Product Owner is also responsible for ensuring that the only work being done is the work that's been listed on the Sprint Backlog. The Product owner is also the only person who has the ability to add items to the Product Backlog.

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    The Team

    Each Scrum Team member is a developer that is responsible for turning action items on the Product Backlog into functional pieces of a shippable product. Teams are made up of people with specialties - quality control, programing, business analysis, etc. And any given team is only made up of 5-9 people. This way each person can communicate with every other person - and the team size is a manageable one so that Daily Scrum meetings are kept to the requisite 15 minutes or less. A Scrum Team is self organizing - meaning that its members determine how to proceed with the items on the Sprint backlog.

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    Scrum Certification Roles

    In addition to ScrumMaster and Product Owner certifications, there are three other types of Scrum certification. These are:

    • Scrum Professional
    • Scrum Trainer
    • Scrum Coach

    The Scrum Professional certification is much more rigorous a process than the ScrumMaster or Product Owner certifications. In order to obtain such certification, the applicant must have at least one year experience with Scrum and must either be a ScrumMaster or a Scrum Product Owner. This certification, naturally, allows the Scrum professional to experience more career flexibility.

    The Scrum Trainer and Scrum Coach certifications require that the applicant must have been a Certified Scrum Professional for at least one year before applying. Both of these certifications allow a level of ability to teach others in Scrum Master and Product Owner methodologies. Not every Scrum environment will have these three certifications, but companies that wish to invest money in Scrum may wish to have some of their employees receive these credentials.

Understanding Scrum - Part II

This series of articles details the principals behind Scrum methodologies - the process, environment, process, roles, etc. Everything you need to know to understand Scrum, you will find in these articles.
  1. Understanding Scrum - Sample Product Backlog
  2. Understanding Scrum - Team Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Understanding Scrum - Best Practices Guide

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