Agile Scrum Development Team & Their Roles

First off I want to say that teams should be self-organized. What do I mean by self-organized? Teams need to form naturally by volunteering to want to be a part of this project. Having done this several times, we tend to have better teams that are more cohesive and want to see the project succeed. Additionally, with a self-organized team I have found that teams will not want to work with social loafers, thus these people will be naturally weeded out of projects and eventually the organization. Yes, it seems cruel, but the output I’ve seen with a self-organized team is simply amazing.

The Development Team consists of professionals who do the work that is in the product backlog. These are the group of people that actually get the work done in the sprints. They are the ones who are responsible for letting the Product Owner know how much they will finish during each sprint.

Development Teams are structured and empowered by the organization to organize and manage their own work. The resulting synergy optimizes the Development Team’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Development Teams have the following characteristics:

• They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;
• Development Teams are cross-functional, with all of the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment;
• Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members other than Developer, regardless of the work being performed by the person; there are no exceptions to this rule;
• Scrum recognizes no sub-teams in the Development Team, regardless of particular domains that need to be addressed like testing or business analysis; there are no exceptions to this rule; and,
• Individual Development Team members may have specialized skills and areas of focus, but accountability belongs to the Development Team as a whole.

Development Team Size

Optimal Development Team size is small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint. Fewer than three Development Team members decrease interaction and results in smaller productivity gains. Smaller Development Teams may encounter skill constraints during the Sprint, causing the Development Team to be unable to deliver a potentially releasable Increment. Having more than nine members requires too much coordination. Large Development Teams generate too much complexity for an empirical process to manage. The Product Owner and Scrum Master roles are not included in this count unless they are also executing the work of the Sprint Backlog.

It is recommended all team members be located in a team room, and collaborate more intensely than a traditional team. They avoid handoffs and phases. The ScrumMaster encourages the team to learn modern development practices such as Test Driven Development (TDD).

While the development team wants to complete the work negotiated in the Sprint Planning Meeting, the team has complete control over the amount of work it takes on. The Product Owner ensures the team takes on the highest priority work.

Teams should ultimately demo to all stakeholders and Product Owners their work at the end of every sprint in the Sprint Review. I’ve personally seen miracles in the Development Team’s transformation when I have the Development Team demo the product and their work. They start to gain a sense of pride and you can really see the shift from just doing the work to having better quality of work done.

Finally, the team should be open to discussions with the Scrum Master and contribute their feedback in the Sprint Retrospective.

Overall Agile Development Team Responsibilities:

  • Help prioritize the sprints backlog
  • Estimate the effort to implement the user story
  • Identify the complexity of a user story
  • Complete development/tasks to achieve the sprints’ goal
  • Implement test cases
  • Unit and initial acceptance testing
  • Identification of any obstacles and raising to the scrum master
  • Self-organizing
  • Attending all the meetings and agile scrum ceremonies
  • communicating the status of work on a dialy basis


You can’t run Agile Scrum without a development team, in fact, you cant’ really run any project without a team. The team may have a lot of responsibilities, but overall they have to say what they can deliver during each sprint and the Product Owner cannot tell them what they have to finish nor can the Scrum Master.

If your company needs some Agile Consulting for Product Owners, Scrum Masters or Coaching please feel free to contact us.

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