More TrinityTG employees will soon become Scrum Masters after attending a KAI Partners Academy for Scrum Master Alliance training.
You heard me right – Scrum Masters. And to date, TrinityTG has sent 45 PMs, BAs, developers and proposal writers through the training to become Certified Scrum Masters.
For the uninitiated, Scrum is an agile framework for managing knowledge work with an emphasis on software development. It’s a lightweight, iterative and incremental framework for managing product development. A Scrum Master is the facilitator or coordinator for an agile development team.
The term scrum comes from the English game of rugby where a group of players performs as a cross-functional team across multiple overlapping phases in which they “try to go the distance as a unit, passing the ball back and forth.”
As for our training, it included in-depth discussions and exercises with strong emphasis on scrum best practices. Most notably, we were able to dive into the different roles and responsibilities within the scrum life cycle.
Within just an hour of the class, I became increasingly aware that these different roles and responsibilities can easily get misinterpreted and confused. It wasn’t until the end of the course that I felt I had a good foundation of knowledge. With this experience fresh in my mind, it’s my goal to lay out the roles and responsibilities that exist within scrum.
As an analogy, let’s assume we have a scrum team within a car manufacturing company. I will be using this scenario while describing the different roles in scrum.
It’s important to reiterate that scrum is an iterative process of development and delivery. Within this life cycle there are four main roles. They include:
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The Stakeholder: This person’s role is to communicate the NEEDS of the project.
Think of the Stakeholder as the client.
In our scenario the Stakeholder is the person that NEEDS the car.
The Stakeholder will explain what is wanted.
The person might say they want a fast car that is red.
This ongoing discussion takes place between the Stakeholder and the Product Owner.
- The Product Owner (PO): Most often the original idea from the Stakeholder may be vague.
More specific data might include what model of car the Stakeholder needs.
Does the car need to be manual or automatic? Should the car in fact be a truck?It is the Product Owner’s responsibility to bring these types of questions to light.From this the Product Owner and the Stakeholder will have a back and forth conversation until the vision is clear.Keep in mind this conversation is iterative and will occur throughout the scrum life cycle as the vision may not be 100% clear when development first begins.
As the Product Owner receives the vision from the Stakeholder, the PO will communicate with the Development team regarding WHAT to build. Think of this as the “official requirements.”
The Stakeholder expressed that the car should be red, needs to be fast, needs to be an automatic and should NOT be a truck.
With this clearer vision are now the focused requirements that are forwarded to the development team.Overall, it is the Product Owner’s job to communicate the WHAT and the WHY to the development team.
Again, this is an iterative process and it’s important to note the Stakeholder is allowed to be in on the conversation with the PO and Dev Team.
In short, the Product Owner “Ensures that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone in the Scrum Team” (https://www.scrumguides.org/revisions.html).
- The Development Team: The Development Team gathers and organizes the requirements based on discussions with the PO and the Stakeholder.
Following the example, the Development Team now knows they need to build a red car, that’s an automatic, and can’t be misinterpreted as a truck.
The Development Team is now able to break the big vision into small tasks (i.e., the vehicle must have four tires, the ability to move forward and backward, to turn, to stop, etc.).
Because the Development Team is knowledgeable and understands the intricacies of making a car, it manages the requirements.
And, it’s the Dev Team’s responsibility to highlight any impediments and/or risks. This is where the Scrum Master comes into play.
- The Scrum Master: “The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. [The person] does this by helping everyone understand Scrum Theory, practices, rules, and values” (https://www.scrumguides.org/revisions.html).
The best way to understand a Scrum Master is to think of the person as the referee.
The Scrum Master works in partnership with the Stakeholder, the Product Owner, and the Development Team and does not have any deliverables other than producing an effective, efficient and predictable Dev Team that continues to improve over time.
The main goal for the Scrum Master is to promote best Scrum practices and to make sure all roles are being followed correctly.
For example, let’s say the Stakeholder has decided the car now needs to be a convertible.
This was never discussed before, but is now a strong need.
The Stakeholder goes to the Product Owner and stresses the desire for this new requirement.The Product Owner then goes to the Development Team and stresses the need to build a convertible ASAP.
It then becomes the Scrum Master’s responsibility to jump into the conversation between the PO and Dev Team and act as the “Change Agent.”
The Scrum Master might say, “Ok Mr./Mrs. PO, I understand you want to add additional functionality to the car.We can definitely do this for you. Let’s place this requirement into the Backlog and then discuss priority.”
The Scrum Master then works with the Dev Team and the PO to help refine the backlog.
For instance, what can be moved up? What needs to be built next? Should this new feature be added to the next sprint or stay in backlog?All of this is discussed prior to the next Sprint Planning event.
This scheduling practice allows the development team to stay on track without venturing beyond the original scope.
The concepts of Scrum and Agile are relatively easy to understand, but often difficult to master, which is why I’m grateful TrinityTG sponsored my participation in the course.
I now feel confident in my abilities to iron out glitches in projects, judge risks, and prioritize responsibilities. I’m also more comfortable at being both a team player and a team leader as my communication skills have improved.
TrinityTG took the time to invest in my training. I can now return the favor of investing in the success of the company.
Thanks for reading!