What Are The Roles in an Agile (Scrum) Team?
While some approaches to Agile are pretty specific about the roles, others are not so. Scrum is specific and, since it also very widely adopted, the Scrum roles have pretty much become the de-facto way of setting up a Team. In a Scrum Team, the roles are:
- Agile (Scrum) Team: a cross functional group of people who perform the actual work of problem solving, designing, verifying and documenting requirements and other changes. The Team includes the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. See What is the Role of the Team for more information.
- Product Owner: creates, prioritizes, and maintains the Product Backlog (the list of requirements for the product / project). See what_is_the_role_of_the_product_owner_ssa for more information.
- Scrum Master: a combination of facilitator, coach, fixer and gatekeeper for the Team. See what_is_the_role_of_the_scrum_master_ssa for more information.
Everyone else who has an interest in the work of the Team is considered a stakeholder. While that could be a lot of people, there are two roles that have a particular interest:
- Customers: represent the interests of the end users of the products developed (and may be internal or external).
- Management: represent the interests of the business or the organization.
See What is the Role of the Stakeholder for more information.
Do We Really Need a Full-time Product Owner or Scrum Master
Most managers, when they see the designation of specific roles such as Scrum Master and Product Owner worry that if they identify people to take on these roles then they immediately are reducing the capacity of the Team and so the Team will produce less work.
The result is that management will try and skimp on these roles. This is a mistake. When adopting Agile there is a reason we establish these roles: our aim is to create a Team that can produce more than the sum of its parts - a high performing Team.
These specific roles help establish a such a Team with the Product Owner focusing on controlling the intake of work to maximize return, and the Scrum Master focussing on Team improvement. We are in fact establishing a new system, a new way of operating. If you skimp on these roles, you can be sure that capacity to deliver of the Team will be reduced as you try to do too much with your people. Further, improvement in Team performance will be much slower.
At a minimum you should try the new roles, the way they were intended, before making adjustments. Perhaps your situation really is different and will need different innovations. Before you can make that assessment you need to determine pros and cons of the recommended approach and use that information to improve your implementation.