The Scrum Team

Just what makes a good Scrum team and who should be on it? This is a question that is often asked by development teams that are new to Scrum.

A Cross-Functional Approach

Before describing who should be on a Scrum team it is important to make clear how a Scrum project differs from project managed using a more traditional approach.

A Scrum team is cross-functional. Everyone is a team member but their job titles and ego’s should be left at the door. This does not mean that team members do no have core competencies and, yes, they can largely stick to what they are good it. But it does mean that team members will have to “pitch-in” whenever necessary in areas outside of their core competencies. Team members should be generalists wherever possible.

Scrum teams do a little bit of everything all of the time. No longer is design followed by coding followed by testing etc. These activities no longer exist in isolation. As a result the team will need to communication more throughout the lifetime of the project.

Finally there is only one team, and everyone on that team is wholly responsible for the quality of the final product.

Who Should be on the Team?

The answer to this is surprising simple - whoever is necessary to create the product. Broadly team members fall into three groups:

The Customer, or their representative the Product Owner, is responsible for setting the features for the product and for setting the priorities of items in the product backlog. It is their responsibility to make any scope/schedule trade off decisions so that the business gains maximum finical benefit from the project. They are the person that the development team demonstrates their progress to at the end of each Sprint period. As such they have the power to accept or reject the teams work.

The ScrumMaster is the expert in the Scrum process who acts to bring the best out of the Scrum team. It is their job to enable close cooperation between team members and to remove barriers that they may encounter. They must exhibit a servant-leader relationship with the team.

The development team should be capable to taking the product from idea all the way though to implementation and shipping. This could include individuals who have core competencies in:

Typically there are between five and nine members on a team. Each of these members should ideally work full time on just one team. It is the teams responsibility to self-organise to solve the problem and to deliver the product.

No project exists in isolation. There will be other interested stakeholders, in areas such a senior management, marketing, other scrum teams, human resources etc. While these individuals are important they do not form part of the team doing the day-to-day work. They should however be invited to participate in the Scrum Sprint Review meeting, were the team will demonstrate the product as it currently stands. In this way they can be both kept fully informed and be in a position to raise concerns about the project.

This is a post in the Scrum Basics series.
Other posts in this series: