October 4, 2010

Intro to Scrum Part 2: There is no “I” in “Scrum Team”


In part 1 of my introduction to scrum series, I gave an overview of scrum and in particular the difference between plan driven and value driven. In the next installment of this series, I want to talk a little bit about one of the key pieces to scrum, the scrum team.

The scrum team is the heart of it all. The success of a scrum implementation lives and dies with them.

Components of a Scrum Team

A scrum team is made up of three different and equally important parts:

  1. Scrum Master
  2. Product Owner
  3. Team

Scrum Master

The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that the scrum process is understood and followed. Think of the scrum master as the coach of a football team. He has a system that he wants to implement and its his job to make sure the team buys into the system and works within the system to achieve success on a project. A scrum master facilitates the meetings that the team have as well as remove any blockages that the team may have in the course of the doing their work.

Product Owner

A product owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the work that the team produces. Think of the product owner as a scout for the football team. They are the ones that go out and see what the customer wants and needs and prioritizes those items so that the team is working on the highest customer value items at any one time. A product owner manages the product backlog as well as being a point of contact for the team on any customer related questions.


A team is responsible for doing the work. They are the players of the football team. They work moving the ball (work item) down the field (iteration) and scoring the touchdowns (done done) to win the game (iteration completion). The team is usually made up of the developers and QA.

All three parts work together to accomplish success in each iteration. The scrum master geared more towards looking after the team’s interests and the product owner geared towards looking after the customer’s interests. These two roles free up the team to actually just sit back and create the application that is needed and wanted by the customer.

Characteristics of a Scrum Team 

The key characteristic of a scrum team is the fact that the are a self-organizing unit. They decide what they can commit to each iteration. The team decides what they need to be successful for the project. This level of autonomy was unheard of in a water fall method.

A scrum team is designed to optimize flexibility and productivity. They should know all aspects of an application to varying degrees and be small enough to change direction each iteration, as needed, to satisfy the customer and succeed in the project. They are cross functional in that as a whole the team should know all aspects of the application. Each individual on the team is not an expert at everything in the application, but they are a generalist in everything.


This was a brief overview of a scrum team. If you wish to know more about the different parts that make up scrum, check out the links below:





In the next article in this series, I will talk about the artifacts of the scrum process.