Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scrum Roles

Scrum makes a strong distinction between the people committed to the project and those that are just interested in it. The most famous way of explaining this concept is via the fable of the pig and the chicken.
A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The chicken looks at the pig and says, “Hey, why don’t we open a restaurant?” The pig looks back at the chicken and says, “Good idea, what do you want to call it?” The chicken thinks about it and says, “Why don’t we call it ‘Ham and Eggs’?”

“I don’t think so,” says the pig, “I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved.”

The “Pigs” are the people who are committed to the project. They are the ones that handle the creating, testing, and deploying of the project. The “Chickens,” on the other hand, are less committed. They are the stakeholders and/or interested parties who benefit from the project, but are not responsible for delivering it. Input from people classified as Chickens on the project should be taken into consideration; however it should not prevent the team from delivering the project.

Scrum promotes the support of the Pigs, but values and takes into account the views of the Chickens.

Pig Roles
The following are the three Pig roles that make up a Scrum team:
• ScrumMaster
• Product owner
• Delivery team

If the team is the engine of a Scrum project, then you can think of the ScrumMaster as the oil that keeps the engine running. The ScrumMaster is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum process is understood and followed. A ScrumMaster facilitates the team meetings and removes any blockages that the team may have in the course of the doing their work. He ensures that there are no obstacles keeping the team from achieving their goals and also isolates the team from outside distractions, all of which ensures focus is kept on the job at hand.

The ScrumMaster also liaises with different parts of the team, from product owners to testers and business stakeholders, ensuring that all members of the team are productive and share the common goal of delivering the sprint. Don’t liken the ScrumMaster position to that of a traditional project manager because the role is much more than that.

The key characteristic of a ScrumMaster is to be a “servant leader.” A ScrumMaster is not the boss of the team, but is there to help the team achieve what it needs to accomplish in the sprint. The ScrumMaster is there to help the team align the work in order to deliver value to the customer. A ScrumMaster is the team coach. He facilitates the decision-making aspects within a team. He is the point person for the team to those outside the group, and thus needs to be a top-notch communicator. When issues arise among a team, it is up to the ScrumMaster to manage that conflict and get the team back on track.

There are times, however, when the ScrumMaster stops being the servant leader and starts becoming a dictator. Since a key responsibility of the ScrumMaster is to ensure that the practices of Scrum are being followed as a team, any issue or attack against the framework should be handled by the ScrumMaster. Hopefully this is something that rarely happens.

Product Owner
A product (or project) owner represents the customer and is responsible for maximizing the value of the work that the team produces. The product owner meets with the customers to determine their wants and needs, and prioritizes those items so that the team is always working on the items of highest customer value. A product owner manages the product backlog and is the only person who can prioritize the user stories for a sprint; all features are developed for her and she is responsible for the sign-off of sprint deliverables. The product owner’s responsibilities change from being classified as a “Pig” before and after a sprint to being a “Chicken” during a sprint. The product owner role is also vital in that this person is the customer’s representative to the team. A product owner is similar to a ScrumMaster, but the main difference is the nature of the roles: the ScrumMaster is looking after the team’s best interest during a sprint while the product owner is looking after the customer’s best interest during the sprint.

In a Scrum team, the product owner is the one role that cannot be miscast. A product owner who is unable to accurately portray the customer’s wants and needs will result in failure. The product owner is key to delivering a product that brings value to the customer and success to the team.

Delivery Team
The delivery team is the group of people responsible for actually delivering the product. The team usually consists of two to ten people and includes a combination of programmers, testers, front-end designers, and members from any other required disciplines. The team works on each sprint to move the user story and related tasks through the different stages on the Kanban board until completion. The key characteristic of a Scrum delivery team is that it is a self-organizing unit. There is no one leader; everyone decides as a group what they can commit to each sprint. Team members also decide what tools they need to be successful for the project. This level of autonomy was unheard of in a waterfall method.

Delivery teams are designed to optimize flexibility and productivity. They are cross functional in that each member of the team should know all aspects of the product to varying degrees. Each individual on the team is not an expert at everything in the application, but each is a generalist in everything and an expert on a few aspects of the product.

The delivery team, along with the ScrumMaster and product owner, work together to complete the user stories and successfully accomplish each sprint. The ScrumMaster is geared to look after the team’s interests and the product owner is geared to look after the customer’s interests. With those two roles in place, the team does can concentrate on creating the application that the customer wants.

Chicken Roles
The people classified in the Chicken roles vary, ranging from business managers and directors to stakeholders such as customers, vendors, and sponsors. The Chickens are not actively involved in the development of the project; rather they are an interested party. Ultimately, the project is developed for these people, so their views are important and must be taken into account, but not at the expense of the development. This is why the ScrumMaster liaises between other people and the team and makes sure that these interested other people provide the resources that the team needs to get the job done, but don’t act as a distraction. Chicken roles are only involved in the process during sprint reviews, when feedback from stakeholders and other interested parties is of high value.

Because Chicken roles typically enjoy higher salaries in an organization they are not usually called chickens! Instead, they are told the pig and chicken story and then invited (and actively encouraged) to attend the Scrum meetings from time to time. Generally they do so and are very happy to observe and hear firsthand about what is going on.

Source of Information : Pro Agile .NET Development with SCRUM
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