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  • Writer's pictureV. Lee Henson CST

Shining a Light on Roles: Defining Roles in Agile

Defining Agile Scrum Roles

In most ventures undertaken, there is significant overlap in who is responsible for various aspects of completing the work. With more and more organizations that are using various Agile based approaches, it becomes crucial to clearly identify who is responsible for what during a product life cycle. Three key roles that exist within an Agile team are the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster and the Team Member. While these titles are usually not representative of the business card titles we hold in our companies, it is the responsibilities that are the key markers for who takes responsibility over what, when, how and why something is done.

Product Owner Vision and Strategy

Clear distinction for the Product Owner (PO) being responsible for the vision and strategy of a product or project helps to enable their success. They are responsible for the WHAT and WHY. The ScrumMaster in turns helps to refine the process and methods used to deliver the product. The ScrumMaster helps the PO define the WHEN. Finally, the Team Members take lots of different titles. They take titles such as developers, architects, development leads, test engineers, QA analysts, DBA’s, UX designers and countless other titles. They help us to accomplish the HOW. Most debate comes over whether the ScrumMaster can really be justified as a full-time, dedicated position and many organizations try to have it shared with another role. That is a temporary solution. Nothing could result in a greater degree of failure than coupling together such responsibilities with another job. When a development lead is promoted to become the ScrumMaster, most of them are sarcastically overjoyed to stop writing code and fixing problems all day and to now be a sender of email reminders. Don’t do that to your people.

Scrum Master Facilitates Process Improvement for High Performing Teams

Facilitation of process norms and refinement in and of itself is the key behind the

Scrum Master role. Try to build and high performing vehicle without a chassis that is in place. How high performing is that vehicle? Try to play a soccer game without the goalie. How often can the defense or midfielders compensate for the lack of insight and direction that comes from that goalie? Will they keep the other team scoreless without that crucial member of the process? Keeping the team engaged, improving and productive is a crucial part of the success factors from the Scrum Master. If you have worked with an effective Scrum Master lately, thank them for their efforts. If they haven’t been effective, why is that? Are there larger roadblocks in the organization or team that they cannot resolve on their own? Are you one of those roadblocks?

Take a look at the roles and responsibilities within your organization. Work to clearly

define WHO is responsible for the WHAT, WHEN, HOW and WHY of your products and enable them to be successful in their jobs

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