What Is a Scrum Team & How to Build One? (Ultimate Guide)
Interested in learning about Scrum team roles?
And why not?
Scrum teams are like the Justice League!
Or The Avengers, if you’re in the Marvel camp.
Teams that have adopted the Scrum methodology are some of the most efficient and cost-effective engineering teams across the world. So it’s no surprise that most businesses switch on their Bat Signals and call in these superheroes to manage their projects and deliverables!
But what makes a Scrum team so efficient?
And more importantly, how do you build such a team?
Building a Scrum team isn’t hard!
Thankfully, you won’t have to be like Commissioner Gordon from the Batman movies, roping in a masked vigilante every night.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Scrum teams so you can build your own superhero team.
Let’s get started!
Before we learn about Scrum teams, we’ll have to brush up on some Agile and Scrum concepts. Even the Avengers had to do some research before they could take down Ultron, right?
But if you want to dive into Scrum teams directly, click here to jump that section.
What Is Scrum Project Management?
Scrum is an Agile project management framework that’s based on continually adapting to changing project needs. In Scrum, your project is broken down into small development cycles to incorporate user feedback continuously.
Want an example?
Let’s say you’re Tony Stark, and you’re building an HR software so that Nick Fury can process the Avengers’ leave applications. (You know how Cap. America and Thor have a habit of going AWOL, right?)
You could spend a year coding it and shipping the final product at one go, but how thrilled do you think your customers will be?
Chances are, they will hate a third of the features and be ‘just ok’ with the rest.
You know how hard it’s to please Nick Fury.
Or you could adopt the Agile methodology, ship a version with five features, and ask customers what they think. Then use their feedback to ship the next release.
Delighted customers who love the final product and just can’t wait to hug you!
(And no more wondering when Thor will be back on Earth!)
How does it work?
Scrum follows an iterative (repetitive) process where work is done in short development cycles called sprints.
At the end of each sprint, the project team delivers the sprint’s deliverable, called an increment, to the stakeholders (who are usually the end-users). The stakeholders then give their feedback, and the project team makes the necessary changes before moving onto the next sprint.
Because you actively engage your stakeholders in the development process, you’ll be able to deliver a final product they’re genuinely excited about.
Who are the stakeholders in Scrum?
Stakeholders are people who have a connection with the project. In Scrum, this primarily includes customers but also includes senior project managers, support team members, or anyone whose inputs help the project move in the right direction.
For example, this would include Nick Fury (customer) plus inputs from the other Avengers like the Hulk or Black Widow.
The Scrum Principles
Like other project management frameworks, Scrum also has its own set of principles (mostly derived from each Agile principle).
In Agile, you have 12 principles that can be grouped into 4 specific categories:
- Agile principles of customer satisfaction: adapt to changing customer needs
- Agile principles of quality: deliver a product that meets customer requirements
- Agile principles of teamwork: emphasize self-organization and collaboration in the team
- Agile principles of project management: identify if you’re falling behind in the project and speed things up
However, instead of 12, you only have 6 key principles in Scrum.
These Scrum principles help teams:
- Make decisions based on observation or experimentation
- Self-organize while working on a Scrum project
- Structure and manage their tasks with team collaboration
- Prioritize stakeholder needs
- Avoid taking on too much work during a specific period
- Actively involve customers in the development process
What goes into Scrum?
The Agile methodology also includes Kanban, XP, Lean, and other processes.
But what makes Scrum stand out like the Hulk?
Let’s find out…
Transparency, continuous improvement and adaptability form the backbone of the Scrum framework. To help teams follow these principles and values, Scrum defines a few concepts — events, artifacts, and roles:
- Scrum events: time-boxed events for continuous improvement of your workflows
- Scrum artifacts: items that provide key information about project development
- Scrum roles: defined team roles that help teams perform their tasks efficiently
These concepts help multiple teams adapt to changing requirements while working together to complete tasks quickly. (We‘ll dive deeper into these in a minute.)
And just like how Iron Man is one of the most popular Avengers, Scrum is also one of the most popular Agile project management frameworks.
- While it’s often used for Agile software development, it can also be used for any project that requires flexibility, like sales and marketing activities
- It also works with other Agile project management frameworks like Kanban and Extreme Programming to help you work even faster
What Are the Components of Scrum?
So what goes into Scrum?
What’s the secret sauce that makes it function so well?!
While well-defined team roles are crucial for good Scrum processes, there are two other essential components:
Here’s a detailed breakdown of each:
A. Scrum events
Scrum has a set of events (also known as Scrum ceremonies) that help teams plan and assess their workflows. Here’s a quick glance at each key Scrum event:
Nope, this isn’t about the Flash making Usain Bolt look silly!
A sprint is the time a Scrum team takes to finish the product increment. Each sprint has a defined goal of what’s to be built (sprint goal) and a flexible plan to guide the team.
- Sprint planning
Sprint planning is a Scrum process that helps teams map out the work to be done in a specific sprint.
It helps them answer:
- What can we deliver in the sprint?
- How do we perform the work?
- Daily Scrum meeting
Also known as daily stand-up, this Scrum meeting happens every day of the current sprint. It keeps each Scrum team member on the same page about the project and helps them chalk out a plan for the day.
- Sprint review
A sprint review is a Scrum process performed at the end of each sprint. The team inspects the product increment (what they developed) and gets feedback from the project stakeholders to improve future sprints.
Here, the team goes over the entire process to discuss what worked and what didn’t work in the current sprint. After the sprint retrospective meeting, the Scrum team will know what improvements must be made in the next sprint.
Nope, we’re not talking about Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet!
Artifacts are handy tools that help you solve a problem.
And Scrum’s artifacts are essential to keep the Agile team and the stakeholders on the same page.
The 3 key Scrum artifacts are:
- Product backlog: a product backlog is a list of things that are required in the product. The backlog items are regularly updated according to changes in stakeholder needs.
- Sprint backlog: the sprint backlog is a list of items selected (from the product backlog item list) for an upcoming sprint. It also includes a plan to deliver the increment and realize the sprint goal.
- Product increment: an increment is the deliverable at the end of each sprint. It integrates the product backlog items that were completed in the current sprint with those from the previous sprints.
What Is a Scrum Team?
A Scrum team is a group of individuals who work together to deliver the product. It’s usually a team of five to ten members who have different skills required to carry out the project.
Not too different from a rugby team, actually! (And that’s where it gets its name from)
Here’s a fun fact:
In rugby, Scrum is a position where all the players put their heads together, literally.
In product development, Scrum means putting your heads together to solve complex problems!
Scrum teams are generally self-organizing and cross-functional teams:
- Self-organization: decide how to perform the work without any input from non-team members
- Cross-functionality: have the skill set needed to complete the work without depending on non-team members
Scrum teams have to:
- Break down the product needs and tackle tasks
- Conduct daily Scrum meetings and other events
- Ensure that they deliver a working increment at the end of each sprint
So how many members should a Scrum team have?
The team size of a Scrum team
Let’s face it.
A Scrum team can’t be too small as they may not have all the skills required for product development.
It can’t be too large either as that could lead to increased Scrum role confusion and poor collaboration. Your members would be like Captain Marvel here:
So what’s the optimal team size?
A Scrum team usually has five to ten members.
This ensures that the team is large enough to have the required project skills and small enough to collaborate efficiently.
Do you have a smaller team?
If you work with smaller teams, it’s best to go for other Agile development methods like Kanban. Why?
The Kanban management method is built for simple projects and very small teams.
But what about larger teams?
Can they still adopt Scrum?
Or are they doomed to a life of mediocre productivity?
The Scrum solution for larger teams: Scrum of Scrums
Remember how different groups came together to fight Thanos?
If a Scrum team is larger than the optimal team size, it should be split into separate Scrum teams. While they’re independent, these teams should communicate and coordinate with each other as they have a shared goal.
But how do you do that?
One way to ensure that these multiple teams are on the same page is through the “Scrum of Scrums” technique.
What’s the Scrum of Scrums?
Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is a scaled Agile approach that integrates the work of different Scrum teams who work on the same Scrum project.
It involves a cross-team meeting where some members of the multiple teams meet to discuss their progress. This is similar to the daily Scrum meetings that are held in each Scrum team.
For an SoS meeting, each team sends one or more members to report their progress. This way, it’s easy to coordinate the work between multiple Scrum team.
The 3 Key Scrum Team Roles
Now we can really get into what makes Scrum teams so unique.
Scrum has a set of specialized team roles that give them the power to run as smoothly as the Avengers.
Who are these members of the Scrum team?
What are their roles and responsibilities?
Let’s find out…
A Scrum team has three key team roles:
While these Agile Scrum team members have different roles and responsibilities in the product development process, they work together to achieve a common goal, like the Avengers.
Note: There is usually no clear project manager role in Scrum. The duties of a project manager are split between the product owner role, the Scrum master role, and the development team.
Here’s a closer look at the three Scrum roles:
A. Product owner
All Agile Scrum processes start with the product owner.
They sound important, right?
That’s because they are.
They represent the stakeholders of the product and are responsible for delivering excellent results. They should know what the stakeholders want and define it through user stories.
Sorta like Iron Man — after all, he’s the one who sets the strategic direction, right?
Note: User stories are short statements that describe how a product will be useful to the stakeholders. As user stories help Agile Scrum teams think beyond a product’s tech specs, it gives them clarity on the stakeholder’s perspective on how products will be used.
As they’re the link between the stakeholders and the development team, the Scrum product owner must have top-notch communication skills.
Like Tony Stark, they should also have a good grasp over both aspects of the Scrum project, namely:
- The business side (stakeholders)
- The technical side (development)
Here are some key responsibilities of the product owner role:
- Define project goals and backlog items clearly
- Foresee and relay stakeholder requirements
- Prioritize backlog items according to stakeholder needs and deadlines
- Oversee the development and help the Agile team perform well
- Maintain the product backlog regularly
Ideally, a Scrum team should only have one product owner.
As a product owner is fully responsible for the product and its backlog items, having multiple product owners could:
- Make responsibilities unclear
- Reduce transparency in the product backlog
- Slow down project adaptability
Remember, when it comes to the Scrum method, less is always more.
How to become a certified product owner?
To become a certified product owner, you should be able to thoroughly understand the product and have excellent analytical and strategic skills.
A good product owner should:
- Clearly understand the stakeholder needs
- Create a powerful project vision
- Know when to prioritize each product backlog item
The quickest way to do this is to select a familiar product domain and master it. You can then undergo Scrum certification courses from professional groups like the Scrum Alliance.
B. Scrum master
If the product owner was the captain of the team, the Scrum master is the first officer.
Sort of like Thor and Heimdall.
The Scrum master is the person who ensures that the team follows the Scrum principles. Also known as servant leaders, they help the team members follow the Scrum values and rules, as mentioned in the Scrum Guide.
However, the Scrum master role isn’t like a traditional project manager. Scrum masters only act as coaches who help the team with Scrum adoption in order to complete the project.
Removing a process that might affect the team’s productivity is also part of the Scrum master role. For example, if there’s any conflict between team members, the Scrum master must resolve it quickly.
- Facilitate each Scrum ceremony
- Ensure that each Scrum process runs smoothly
- Help the product owner maintain the product backlog efficiently
- Educate the team and stakeholders on Agile and Scrum theories
- Support the team to become self-organized
- Remove any external or internal issues that affect their progress
How to become a certified Scrum master?
Remember, a Scrum master isn’t just a project manager or project leader.
Instead, the Scrum master serves the team, helping them follow Scrum values and adapt to the Scrum environment.
To become a certified Scrum master, you’ll need to learn the Agile Scrum theories and understand Scrum values, events, artifacts, and team roles. You can then attend a certified Scrum master course taught by the Scrum Alliance or other professional groups.
C. Development team
And lastly, we have the Scrum development team, which includes skilled individuals (developers) who build the product during each sprint.
In an Agile software development project, the “developer” often refers to the programmer.
However, a development team member can be anyone who’s a part of the product development, like:
- Business analyst
Basically, if you’re contributing to the project, you’re a development team member!
While the product owner assigns work to the development team, the Scrum master protects them from needless distractions.
Ideally, the team should also interact with the stakeholders occasionally to have a better understanding of their needs.
Development teams have the following characteristics:
- They are self-organizing teams: nobody tells them how to tackle the sprint backlog; they should have the knowledge and skills to do this on their own
- They are cross-functional teams: how powerful would the Avengers be if they all had the same powers? I mean, they’d still be powerful. But not nearly as effective.
- Scrum team members should possess all the skills required to deliver increments. While a member might not be an expert in another’s field, they should have a working knowledge of what to do and aim to acquire new skills.
- Regardless of the work they perform, no titles or sub-teams are assigned to a Scrum development team — it’s a collective effort
- All team members must aim for continuous improvement over their project workflows and skills
- The team is accountable as a whole for any failures or delays in product development
How to become a certified Scrum developer?
You need to inject yourself with a super-soldier serum!
To gain a Scrum certification, you need to have an understanding of Agile and Scrum theories. You also need to have good technical skills in Agile software development. You can then enroll for Scrum certification courses offered by the Scrum.org, Scrum Alliance, etc.
Note: Most Scrum developer courses are aimed at software development teams who want to adopt the Scrum framework.
Who attends the Agile Scrum events?
Look, we get it.
There are a lot of Scrum events, roles, and artifacts.
But how do they all come together?
And which Scrum team member attends which Scrum event?
Here’s a quick party invitation chart you can follow:
|Scrum event||Product owner||Scrum master||Development team|
|Sprint planning meeting|
|Daily Scrum meeting|
|Sprint retrospective meeting|
How to Manage a Successful Scrum Team Easily
While it’s essential to assign the right Scrum team roles and conduct the right meetings, it’s never enough.
Your Scrum team also needs the right platform to carry out their activities!
Even the Avengers needed a headquarters, right?
Luckily, that’s what Scrum project management tools were made for.
These tools will give your Scrum team all they need, such as:
- A place to manage their backlog and sprints
- A platform to communicate with each other and stakeholders
- A way to track their project progress over time
The best Scrum project management software: ClickUp
Legend has it that Tony Stark used it to manage all his Scrum projects.
(Disclaimer: We have never been able to verify this.)
ClickUp has an extensive list of features to help Scrum teams, like:
- Multiple Views: cope with changing task stages
- Sprint Lists: track what each sprint contains
- Agile Dashboards: monitor task progress
- Custom Statuses: instantly know the status of your Agile project or tasks
- Assigned Comments: assign comments and tasks to a Scrum team member directly
If you’re looking to adopt the Scrum and Agile methodology, ClickUp has everything you need!
You won’t need another tool!
Here’s a quick look at how ClickUp helps every Scrum team:
1. Multiple Views that help manage various project requirements
The Scrum framework is all about adapting to changing stakeholder needs.
And your project management tool must be flexible enough to reflect these changes.
Think about it.
Would you prefer a tool that:
Forces you to adapt to its interface?
Or one that adapts to your needs?
After all, a superhero suit should fit, right? You know how fashion-conscious Tony is!
ClickUp gives you Multiple Views to instantly adapt to your Agile Scrum team’s needs!
Here’s a detailed look at these views:
A. Required Task Views
ClickUp offers two required task views for two common working styles:
ClickUp’s List view is perfect for teams who manage their work with GTD-style to-do lists. As tasks are listed down as simple checklists, you can quickly check them off according to their progress.
Here’s how this view helps Scrum teams
You can use it to keep track of your sprint lists for multiple tasks. As each task is listed one after the other, you can tackle each one sequentially.
If you prefer the Kanban method or want to use Scrum and Kanban together, this is the perfect view for you.
Here’s how this view helps Scrum teams
Use the Scrum board interface to move sprints around quickly, visualize their statuses, and keep up with the Agile framework. It only takes a glance to know what stages your tasks are in and move them around instantly!
B. Box view
Want to know who’s working on which tasks? Use the Box view.
Here’s how this view helps Scrum teams
As tasks are sorted by assignee in the Box view, you can see who’s working on what instantly.
The product owner and product manager can use this view to keep tabs on how each sprint’s tasks are progressing.
Perfect for Nick Fury to keep track of what each Avenger is up to!
Especially the elusive ones like Thor and Captain Marvel.
If you’re Doctor Strange, you can see everything – all of the time!
But the rest of us need calendars to manage projects.
ClickUp’s Calendar view helps you plan and manage work schedules in seconds.
Here’s how this view helps Scrum teams
Scrum teams use this during sprint planning to plan your next sprint in advance. You can also use it to check when you can add a product backlog item to your sprint backlog.
For added flexibility, team members can view their calendar as:
- Days: view all the tasks scheduled for a given date
- 4-Days: look at your task schedule over a rolling four day period
- Week: view your weekly sprint schedule
- Monthly: shows your project roadmap for each month
D. Me Mode
You’re a crucial part of your team.
That’s why ClickUp has a view just for you.
ClickUp’s Me Mode is perfect for keeping track of what’s been assigned to you.
Any task, comment, or list assigned to you shows up here. This way, you can easily focus on your tasks without getting distracted by other members’ assignments.
2. Sprint Lists to track your sprints accurately
Any Scrum team needs to keep track of their sprints to know what’s happening.
ClickUp lets you create Sprint Lists that break down the increments for each sprint. You can then add these checklists across projects and tasks to quickly check things off as you progress.
You can even add Scrum points to these lists to know how long it’ll take to finish your product backlog.
These checklists can also be used to discuss sprint progress in Scrum meetings.
No more forgetting things. Even for the Hulk!
3. Powerful Agile Dashboards for visual overviews of projects
Even Nick Fury needs to monitor the Avengers’ projects to ensure that things are going according to plan.
Dashboards are ideal for quick overviews of any Scrum and Agile project.
You can even customize the data displayed in these Dashboards with ClickUp’s sprint widgets.
ClickUp’s Velocity Chart helps you gauge the completion rate of your tasks.
All tasks are broken down into bi-weekly or weekly intervals, and their average velocity is displayed in the graph. Additionally, ClickUp automatically groups sprint list data to make it easier to add to your charts.
Most teams use product and sprint burndown charts to track how their team is performing against a target line. It shows you the amount of work that’s yet to be completed in the project.
ClickUp’s Burndown Chart highlights various metrics like:
- Target progress: shows the ideal task completion pace to reach your sprint goal
- Projected progress: displays your team’s trending rate based on completed tasks
- Active: shows the current number of completed tasks
Just take a quick look at the burndown chart to know if you’re behind schedule or not. And as tasks get completed, the burndown chart literally “burns down” to zero!
Unlike sprint burndown charts, burnup charts show you how much work has been completed. This way, you can take stock of what you’ve finished so far to motivate your team to keep rocking!
ClickUp’s Cumulative Flow Charts show how your tasks progress over time.
It breaks down tasks into different colors based on their current status. This lets you quickly identify any bottlenecks and step in to resolve them.
4. Custom Statuses to help manage varying task stages
The Scrum methodology isn’t only for software development teams.
It doesn’t discriminate.
Sales, marketing, and other teams can also adopt it.
While the Scrum framework remains the same, each Scrum team will have its own specific Agile project needs and phases.
For example, a testing phase is unique to a software development project but not required for a marketing project.
So what can you do to use project-specific statuses?
Use ClickUp’s Custom Task Statuses!
It lets you customize project statuses to suit your requirements. This way, you’re not stuck with a default set of statuses that aren’t relevant to your project.
For example, you can create statuses like “testing” for Superman’s research project. Similarly, Lois Lane’s blog tasks can have statuses like “grammar check”.
(We know what Superman’s going to say: ClickUp’s got him!)
ClickUp gives you complete freedom over what statuses you can create — you can get as creative and detailed as you want!
5. Assigned Comments to keep your Agile project moving forward
Agile is all about speed, right?
But since we’re not as fast as Flash, we need to rely on quick feedback.
But when your entire team is racing against the clock, your comments might slip through the cracks. This can create unnecessary delays or roadblocks that slow down your progress.
However, with ClickUp’s Assigned Comments, that’s not an issue!
ClickUp lets you quickly create tasks out of comments and assign them to team members. It’ll then notify them of this, and it’ll even appear in their notifications! Once the task is complete, they can mark the comment as resolved to avoid needless follow-ups!
However, these aren’t all of ClickUp’s features.
This Agile project management software also gives you features like:
- Profiles: know each development team member’s tasks and responsibilities with a glance
- Comments: have task-specific discussions for improved Scrum teamwork
- Pulse: know the activity levels of your entire team on a given day
- Multiple Assignees: assign more than one person to any task
- Automation: automate over 50+ repetitive tasks in your project workflow
- Notepad: capture ideas quickly during your daily Scrum meeting
- Priorities: create task prioritizations to help your team know what’s urgent
- Team Reporting: real-time reports to help analyze the performance of your Agile team during the daily Scrum
The Scrum methodology might seem challenging at first.
But that doesn’t mean building and managing a successful Scrum team should take forever!
I mean, it only took half a movie to get this team together, right?
So why should it take your team forever?
Use an Agile project management tool like ClickUp to make this process a breeze!
Regardless of the Agile project methodology you choose — whether its Scrum, Kanban, or any other Agile framework, ClickUp is all you need to manage your projects seamlessly.
Its powerful features ensure that your Scrum team starts dealing with projects as seamlessly as the Avengers save the world!
Sign up for ClickUp today and turn your team into superheroes!