Scrum defines three main "roles" for its team members:
the Product Owner
the SCRUM Master
the SCRUM team (other members of the tech team who are neither the Product Owner nor the SCRUM Master)
The Product Owner
The Product Owner is responsible for making sure the team is working on the highest priority items. The Product Owner (or PO) does this by maintaining a backlog of future work items and ordering the backlog so that the highest priority items are at the top.
We've talked about the backlog in a previous chapter, but as a reminder, the SCRUM Guide defines a product backlog as:
an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. It is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product.
The Product Owner must ensure that the next items to be worked on are clearly visible to the entire organization. He or she must also make sure that these items are ready to be worked on. If there are elements such as UX designs, copy, or translations which are required, the Product Owner ensures that they are ready. In particular, any major design decisions or logical decisions need to have been considered. If the tech team asks any questions when planning the feature, the Product Owner must provide answers.
The Product Owner will therefore decide what is worked on in the future. He or she maintains relationships with major stakeholders in order to know the organization's highest priority.
The SCRUM Master
The SCRUM Master is the person on the team who contributes the most to helping the team and the organization understand and respect the rules and behaviors of SCRUM.
It can be helpful to think of the SCRUM Master's contribution in three ways:
1. Service to the SCRUM Team
The SCRUM Master provides support to the SCRUM team by being the principal point of contact when issues arise. If one of the team members is blocked from doing their work, they should inform the SCRUM Master right away. The SCRUM Master will do his or her best to remove the impediment.
The SCRUM Master ensures that the team understands SCRUM and adheres to its rules. He or she also promotes a culture of self-organization, ownership, and effective communication. In addition, he or she will often facilitate meetings or events and help team members who are dealing with people in the organization who may not understand SCRUM.
2. Service to the Organization
The SCRUM Master plays a leading role in helping the organization as a whole to understand SCRUM principles. He or she is the reason why the team behaves the way it does (when adhering to the framework). If there are teams that are introducing SCRUM for the first-time, the SCRUM Master will play a major coaching role, ensuring that key stakeholders understand the benefits. In particular, if any managers try to "break" SCRUM by requesting/insisting that the team engage in outside activities , the SCRUM Master will step in and help "police" the situation so that SCRUM rules are again observed.
3. Service to the Product Owner
The SCRUM Master may be a member of a team where the Product Owner is new to working in SCRUM. In that case, he or she will assist them in understanding their role and responsibilities. Also, the SCRUM Master may facilitate meetings at the request of the Product Owner.
The SCRUM Team
The developers, designers, and testers (quality assurance members) of the team are known as the SCRUM team. They do all the actual work of building, testing, and releasing the software/product. The SCRUM team has the following characteristics:
Self-organizing - No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the team how to turn the current work iterations into deliverables. The team organizes itself to get the job done in the way it feels best. For example, the order in which tasks are done and jobs are assigned is decided by team members. Although challenging at first, the team members eventually develop a capacity for self-organization that results in high quality output.
Cross-functional - Teams have the skills necessary to do the work required.
Equal member status - No job titles or sub-teams are recognized in SCRUM. All team members are equal and the whole team is accountable. Either the (entire) team succeeds or it fails to obtain its goals.
There are three main roles defined in SCRUM: the product owner, the SCRUM Master, and the SCRUM team.
The Product Owner must ensure the team works on the highest priority items from the backlog.
The SCRUM Master ensures that the SCRUM process is adhered to and plays a major role in coaching the team and other members of the organization. She also helps the team if they encounter impediments.
The SCRUM team are other members of the tech team who are not the Product Owner or SCRUM Master.