Scrum is the most popular project management framework to implement Agile philosophy. The Agile philosophy emphasizes people over processes and working products (software) over documentation. Scrum uses small, collaborative teams to conduct project work in short phases (called “sprints”).
Like other Agile project management processes or frameworks, Scrum focuses on the people involved in executing the project. There are three core roles in Scrum as well as several non-core functions. The core roles include the Product Owner, Scrum Team, and Scrum Master.
The Product Owner (PO) is a key role in any Scrum project. POs represent the voice of the customer so that there is continual business value assessment throughout the project life cycle. The PO will work with the customer, and in some cases is the customer, to determine a list of product features and requirements. Requirements are prioritized and listed from highest impact to business value to less influential features.
During project execution, the PO will recommend a set of these requirements for the project team to develop. In Scrum, this list of requirements is called the Prioritized Product Backlog.
At the completion of each interval or iteration of work (the sprint), the PO evaluates and approves completed features. Requirements are designed with measurable “done criteria” upfront so that the PO and Scrum Team agree in advance to these acceptance criteria. As product features are completed, the PO brings forth the next highest value set of requirements for the team to work from the Prioritized Product Backlog.
The Scrum Team (ST), also known as the development team, does the work of the project. They create the features and functions of the product and strive to meet cost and schedule requirements during each iteration. Because the ST is involved in estimating the project requirements, they are highly committed to meeting the completion targets agreed at the start of each sprint.
Aligned with the Agile philosophy, the ST is people, not process, oriented. Team members serve as specialists-generalists, meaning that each brings unique skills to solve the project problems, yet everyone supports the team in an equal fashion. As indicated, all Scrum team members participate in estimating requirements during the sprint planning meeting so that they are committed and motivated to completing the agreed-upon deliverables during the sprint.
One of the most important roles for a Scrum project is the Scrum Master (SM). Unlike a traditional project manager, the SM is a facilitator who acts to remove roadblocks and obstacles that hinder the work of the Scrum Team. After all, project work will advance the quickest if the team members are allowed to work uninterrupted.
On a daily basis, the SM will consult with all the Scrum Team members in a short meeting. During this Daily Stand-Up Meeting, each of the team members reports what s/he did yesterday, what s/he plans to do today, and if s/he is encountering any obstacles. The SM facilitates this meeting and ensures it does not last longer than 15 minutes. At the conclusion of the Daily Stand-Up Meeting, the SM works to alleviate roadblocks identified by the team, thus streamlining product delivery.
Implementing Scrum is paradigm shift for most companies. Understanding Scrum roles is a starting point to transition from top-down project management to a customer-oriented project execution framework. The PO represents the customer’s viewpoint while the ST acts autonomously to create project deliverables. A SM facilitates the project and intercepts conflicts that might arise between the PO and the ST.
Normally, it is recommended to involve an entire organization in Scrum training to adopt the principles of Scrum which are markedly different than conventional, document-driven project management techniques.
If you’d like to learn more about Scrum, please join us for a free webinar that overviews this project management framework. Or if you’ve already identified what you don’t know, please join us for a 2-day Scrum Master Certification Workshop where you will demonstrate new skills with both practice and testing. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-280-8717 for more information.
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by Global NP Solutions, LLC