Scrum’s Roles Have Changed. Updates to the Scrum Guide 2020.

What are the three Scrum roles?

Scrum (2020) has three roles:

  • Product Owner – Developing the Product Goal and managing the Product Backlog.
  • Scrum Master – Ensuring that Scrum is effective and helps the whole team create high value Increments that meet the Definition of Done.
  • Developer – The people who do the work.

This is a change to the previous Scrum Guide (2017) that included a team within a team:  the Scrum Team containing the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and then the Development Team.

What does "developer" mean?

“Developer” is the new role given to people who are doing the work and committed to creating a usable increment of work each Sprint. The Scrum Master and Product Owner could also be Developers if they’re also contributing.

Developer doesn’t mean “software developer”.  While the specific skills needed by the Developers are often broad and will vary with the domain of work, these people are committed to and accountable for:

  • Creating a plan for the Sprint, the Sprint Backlog.
  • Instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done.
  • Adapting their plan each day toward the Sprint Goal.
  • Holding each other accountable as professionals.

Your roles aren't your job titles

The three Scrum roles define the minimum areas of accountability to support the whole team to self-manage. The roles create focus to get work done simply, transparently and (importantly) successfully. You might have other titles as part of the reason you were hired to work in the organisation – senior engineer, product manager, service manager, finance officer, marketing officer – but to deliver effectively, Scrum asks people to fulfil one of the three roles, and importantly, leave their title at the door so that everyone works as a single unit as equals, not within a command-and-control management hierarchy where one person delegates work to others.

Team within a team is gone

The tension between the Development Team and the Product Owner sometimes got in the way of delivering an output versus delivering value. A focus on one team reinforces that its the job of the collective to work together on understanding and delivering valued outcomes. 

About the author

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