Agile Scrum Roles and Responsibilities

Agile techniques have become very popular and effective approaches to delivering benefit on a project. For this reason, we will focus on Agile frameworks, techniques, principles and ideas as well.

Agile SCRUM is one of many Agile frameworks. SCRUM is a very specific framework that focuses on the following roles.

  • 1.ScrumMaster
  • 2.Product Owner
  • 3.Team
  • 4.Stakeholders

The following graphic depicts each role and the relationship of the role with the other SCRUM roles.

A depiction of the SCRUM roles, each roles primary responsibility and its relationship to the other SCRUM roles

The ScrumMaster Role

The ScrumMaster, despite popular belief, is not the Agile term for a project manager. In fact, the ScrumMaster serves a very different purpose. The ScrumMaster does not have responsibility for delivering the project. Rather, the ScrumMaster is a facilitator, coach and champion of the Scrum framework and process.

The biggest challenge to applying Scrum within an organization is not the actual Scrum process. It is the cultural change and acceptance of the new roles that an organization finds most difficult (e.g., the enhanced power of the Team to commit to a Sprint goal, and to deliver it with little interference from “management”). More on the differences later, but because the organization does need to accept a significant change in philosophy, there is a need for a ScrumMaster, who serves as the coach, mentor, facilitator, champion, and cheerleader.

Adopting Agile Scrum framework is as much about a change in philosophy as it is a change in processes. This is because Agile Scrum places distinct responsibilities on each of the roles. Agile Scrum does not allow anyone to play more than one role. And the tension among the roles is there for a reason — almost like a balance of power among the roles so that no one role has an unfair authority over the other roles.

It is for the above stated reasons that a full-time ScrumMaster is recognized as the authority on Scrum and needed to continue to facilitate and champion the process, to ensure that the process is followed as intended, and to coach members as needed.

  • Communicate the value of Scrum
  • Teach the organization on Scrum to maximize business value
  • Facilitate Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Reviews and Retrospective Meetings
  • Create the Task Board and Sprint Burndown Chart at the start of every Sprint
  • Attend all Scrum meetings
  • Preserve the integrity and spirit of the Scrum framework
  • Make the Team aware of impediments and facilitate efforts to resolve them
  • Serve as a coach and mentor to members of the Team
  • Respectfully hold the Team, Product Owner and Stakeholders accountable for their commitments
  • Continually work with the Team and business to find and implement improvements

The Scrum Team (Team) Role

The Stakeholder is anyone who has an interest or stake in the project. This can be the direct managers of the Team members, the persons providing funding for the project, the Project Manager — yes I said Project Manager. Combining Agile Scrum with traditional project management is not unusual. In fact, Scrum does not account for many of the things often required for a project such as project management documents and artifacts. This might be because of organizational policies and procedures that require a level of oversight that requires specific documents be created (e.g., Risk Management Plan, Quality Assurance Plan, Project Management Plan, Procurement Management Plan, etc.). These responsibilities still fall under a Project Manager role.

Within the Scrum framework, Stakeholders are responsible for communicating their needs, and providing feedback on the product.