Start a Scrum Team From Scratch the Easy Way

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How to start a Scrum team

Do you want to learn how to start Scrum on your team?  You’re in the right place.  This blog will teach you how to launch a Scrum team regardless of what industry you are in.  Education, startup, finance, publishing, government, and nonprofit all work with Scrum.  

 Technological innovations have helped us in many ways, almost in all areas of life. Traditional ways of operating and functioning are good. But they're rigid, less adaptable to change, and have limited scope for creativity. Enter Scrum, the art of creating strong teams. 

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Now, the question is what Scrum team is and how it works. Can we build an effective Scrum team? What are the different roles of the Scrum team and how we can manage it? We’ll discuss all these questions in this article.

What is a Scrum Team?

The Scrum team is a group of people (experts from different fields) who work together to deliver a product. The team can be from 3 - 10 people, but error on the smaller side, please.  A Scrum team allows and encourages open communication among team members. So that it could achieve;

  • Products delight customers
  • Products deliver on time
  • Teams are happy and retention is high

If a team comprises less than three members. It means that the team doesn’t have enough expertise and skill set to meet the criteria. If it has more than 10 members. It would result in poor collaboration and confusion of roles and responsibilities.

Scrum of Scrums (SoS)

Scrum of Scrums is when different Scrum teams are working on the same project. You integrate and combine their work, then it becomes a Scrum of the Scrums.

Structure and Composition of Scrum Team

A Scrum team shares the responsibilities among team members towards the delivery of product. Teams succeed or fail together.  There are no superstars in Scrum, only super teams. It would be preferable if team members work nearby or at the same location, but with remote work being what it is, that may never be the case again. Some of the main roles involved in the Scrum team are as followed;

  • The role of Product Owner
  • The role of Scrum Master
  • Development Team

      Now, it’s time to discuss each of the above mentioned roles in detail one by one. We should try to understand the functionality of the Scrum team. Here it follows;

      Product Owner

      A product owner is the person/team member who should know the needs and wants of customers. Translating those needs and wants into a specific manner. So that the team could produce a valuable product. The product owner should also know the features that allow a product to do the jobs customers need done.

      When the team is creating the product, then the product owner should be there to check it. Most importantly, he should have the decision-making authority relevant to the project. Some of the main responsibilities of the product owner relevant to the management of product backlog are as follows;

      • Creating a list of product backlog items,
      • Devising a plan for the product backlog items in order to achieve the goals and objectives,
      • Improving the value of the work that the team is performing,
      • Making sure that the product backlog is clear, transparent, and visible to everyone. It should tell the team members what they have to do next.
      • Also making sure that the team must understand the items in the product backlog.

              The Scrum team should have one product owner. If it has more than one product owners, then;

              • Roles and responsibilities would become unclear,
              • Clarity and transparency in the product backlog would become lower,
              • The adaptability of the project would become slower,

                Becoming a Credentialed Product Owner

                You can become a credentialed Product owner in many ways.  If you would like me help please contact me and let's talk.  Here's what you should have to become a product owner.

                • Clear understanding of needs and wants of customers and stakeholders,
                • Creating a powerful vision of the project,
                • You should how to build a backlog the right way

                Scrum Master

                The role of the Scrum master is to make the team committed and accountable to business and project. By removing all the roadblocks that could lower the productivity of the team. The Scrum master meets with the team on the regular basis to review its performance. Most importantly, the role of the Scrum master is not an enforcer to enforce the rules and regulation. The Scrum master is a mentor and coach to motivate the team. Some of the main responsibilities of the Scrum master are as follows;

                • Making sure all the processes of the project run smoothly,
                • Removing all the internal and external roadblocks that could jeopardize the productivity of the team,
                • Organizing different critical team events 
                • Assisting the product owner in the maintenance of the product backlog,
                • Educating the stakeholders and team members about Scrum
                • Supporting the team members

                          Becoming a Credentialed as a Scrum Master

                          You can become a credentialed as Scrum master in many ways.  If you'd like to talk about how to become a Registered Scrum Master, let's talk.  

                          Development Team

                          Businesses and organizations empower and structure their development team to manage their work. So that the efficiency and effectiveness of the development team start improving. A development team are the members who create the product. Examples include;

                          • Designer
                          • Business Analyst
                          • Researcher
                          • Writer
                          • Editor
                          • Engineer
                          • QA
                          • Testing
                          • Sales
                          • Marketing
                          • People operations

                              In simple words, if you’re making some contribution to the project, then you’re a member of the development team. The development team should interact with the customers and stakeholders (wink, wink sprint review).

                              Some of the main characteristics of the development team are as follows;

                              • Self-organizing is one of the main traits of the development team. It means that no one should tell them what to do, whether managing the product backlog or some other task. It’s because they have the expertise and skill to do it on their own.
                              • Operating the team at a cross-functional level is a strength of the development team. It means a variety of skills and expertise increase the productivity of the team.
                              • If the Scrum team members aren’t experts in any field. Then they should have a basic and working knowledge of performing the task.
                              • It doesn’t matter what role and task they perform as an individual. You shouldn't assign any titles and ranks to the Scrum development team. Instead, you should recognize it as a collective effort.
                              • The focus of the team members should be on team continuous improvement. Rather than improving their skill and project workflow.
                              • There’s no concept of a sub-category of the team in the development team. You should address different domains with names. Like testing, business analysis, operations, and architecture.
                              • The team members may have different skills and expertise at an individual level. But in case of project failure and delays, the whole team would be accountable.

                                          Becoming a credentialed as a Scrum Developer

                                          You can become a credentialed as Scrum Developer in many ways.  If you'd like to talk about how to become a developer, let's talk. 

                                          How to create a Scrum team

                                          Here are some of the key points of building a successful Scrum team;

                                          Arrange time for Orientation

                                          The kickstart or the orientation session is very important in the beginning. You shouldn’t avoid it by limiting it to only 2 or 3 hours. Instead, you should set two or three days for the kickstart session. On the first day, you should start with a Scrum training program with Scrum theories. On the second day, you should organize the team building activity by playing different games. So that the team members would be able to know each other.

                                          On the third and final day, you should tell them how to create a product backlog and get started. The purpose of spending three days performing different activities at the kickstart session is to send a clear message. “We are all in on Scrum and this team”

                                          Half the work is getting to know each other

                                          It doesn’t matter whether people are strangers to one another, or they have known each other for a long time. It’s important that they should attend the kickstart session. It starts by introducing themselves. Make sure that the orientation session is fun and light-hearted. This will make the team feel comfortable.

                                          It for things to feel awkward in the beginning. The purpose is to break the ice and remove the hesitation and awkwardness. If you don’t do it at the start, then it would stay there throughout the end and interfere at many stages.

                                          Teaching Scrum

                                          There would be only a few members that are completely familiar with the Scrum events, roles, and artifacts. The rest of the team would have a short overview of Scrum. That’s why Scrum training is important.  It gets everyone on the same page.  It’s awful when people use the same work, “retrospective” as an example, to mean different things. Make the session interactive, you should also add some games and discussion. If criticism, doubt, and raising voices happen, then it’s a very good sign. It means that you’re moving in the right direction. If they don’t disagree and argue with one another, then it’s problematic. It means that they don’t care at all.

                                          Formulating a vision for the team

                                          You should float the question like what it requires to be a good team. Or ask them to differentiate the characteristics of a good team and a bad team. Ask them to start the discussion, share their views, and come up with different ideas. You should make them realize the good behaviors and bad behavior on their own. Thanks, Socrates, we’re taking your playbook here to have Scrum teams think for themselves.  That’s important for autonomous teams. 

                                          When they figure out by themselves and start seeing the characteristics of a good team they will share a common vision of a team. This exercise should be deliberate. Your job is to keep directing the team toward that end. 

                                          Creating a contract for the team

                                          It’s important that you should clarify the roles and responsibilities. The Scrum team should be clear about what they’re going to do and what you expect from them. They should also know about Scrum events and who would be responsible for what.  

                                          • Do they understand the product?  
                                          • Do they understand Scrum?  
                                          • Do they understand the customer?  
                                          • Do they understand the market?

                                          Sometimes the team doesn’t understand what you expect of them. Thus, you should ask them to create a contract by answering following questions like;

                                          • What and who are the team members? 
                                          • How they should distribute the roles and responsibilities among team members. Like who is the Scrum Master/Product Owner/Development Team and its members? If members are not in the sheet, then it means that they aren’t allowed to take part in the Scrum events.
                                          • Timing and location of the Scrum events and who will be there?
                                          • If someone gets late in the Scrum event, then what happens?
                                          • What happens when a team member isn’t pulling their weight?
                                          • What happens when the organization won’t remove the team’s impediments?

                                                  Naming the team

                                                  Have each team pick their own name.  Don’t just call the team “engineering 002” or “content creation”. Team names give teams a sense of ownership and identity. It’s a very easy and simple exercise. But it would make the team members brainstorm different names and assign the best name for their team.

                                                  Setting expectations

                                                  Working as a team is hard.  It takes a lot to understand the functionality of the team and art of working together. There’s no easy way to improve productivity, and it happens after a lot of experiments and failures. Teams will have highs and lows.  This is normal, so be kind to yourself and your teams when times are tough.  Make sure everyone understands that Scrum isn’t magic.  Scrum lets you do the hard work of learning, producing, and growing as a team.  It can be a bumpy ride, but it’s fun and it’s worth it!  

                                                  Supportive Management

                                                  A Scrum team may be facing a lot of issues in the beginning. Thus, the management should show support to the team members. Not only in the kickstart session but also throughout the processes. Support is more than lip service.  Supporting a team means building psychological safety, trust, and a learning environment.  You can also show support by listening and finding out the ways to make things better. Make sure that the management is familiar with the Scrum team and its processes. If they don’t, then it would create a lot of conflict and distance.

                                                  Advantages of the Scrum Team

                                                  The Scrum team is a very successful and popular strategy for teams. Here are some of the benefits of the Scrum team are as follows;

                                                  Short Response Time

                                                  The Scrum team follows the incremental strategy. It means that the team members won’t waste time waiting for the feedback at the end of a huge product build.  The team gets feedback at the end of each sprint (wink, wink sprint review). For instance, if the product development cycle six months, the Scrum team would get feedback at the end of each sprint (1-4 weeks). The purpose of getting the quick feedback is to make changes early, when it’s cheap and easy.

                                                  Ability to change

                                                  The design and functionality of the Scrum team work in such a way that it has the ability to adapt  and change. This adaptability allows teams to have more business value.  Here’s how, teams can respond to rapidly changing technology and markets.  Rapidly changing technology is all around us.  Machine learning and AI are two of the emerging trends with huge impacts to society.  We don’t know what the world will look like in the future because we don’t know how these emerging technologies will change us and society.  I’d rather have an agile team given so much change.  Changing markets have always been around, and have always been a challenge.  An agile team helps you bring the right product to market.  

                                                  Better Quality Products

                                                  The Scrum team has the ability to adapt to change easily. Thus, it allows the team to experiment with different ideas. After receiving the feedback from the market that earlier idea didn’t work out. When you repeat this process two or three times, then you would come up with a better quality product as a result.

                                                  Clarity and Transparency

                                                  Clear and transparent communication are the core values of the Scrum team. The product owner and development team should be clear about their roles and responsibilities. If the communication isn’t transparent and clear. It would create confusion and complication among the internal and external processes of the Scrum team.

                                                  Customer Satisfaction

                                                  Making changes as soon as you receive the feedback from the customers creates happy customers.  That’s just good business, and Scrum makes that possible. It means that your product has better quality, and communication is transparent and clear. 

                                                  Shared Values and Purpose

                                                  The functionality of the Scrum team relies on collaboration and teamwork. We know that there are no titles and subtitles with the development team, even though they’re the heart of the team (note, the Scrum master isn’t the heart of the team). All these attributes contribute towards building a shared sense of values and purpose. That’s strong motivation and good for retention

                                                  Scrum FAQs

                                                  Some of the most FAQs (frequently asked questions) about the Scrum team are as follows;

                                                  When should we use the Scrum?

                                                  We can use Scrum teams for different types of projects. Like software packages, development projects of software, or the internal work of the clients. Scrum works in any domain where there is knowledge work and learning transfer.  

                                                  What should we do if the requirements aren’t clear?

                                                  Requirements are never clear at the start of a project if you are building something for a specific client.  In that case, work collaboratively to build a backlog and continue to refine that backlog as sprint reviews foster collaboration around the emerging product.  

                                                  What type of changes should we expect during the development processes?

                                                  Everything can change.  Embrace change and ensure that each sprint ends with a potentially shippable increment of product that has customer visible value.  This makes the cost of changing your mind low.  

                                                  What should we do if the project is complex?

                                                  As we know that complicated problems are difficult to solve through conventional strategies. If the project is more complicated, then it would raise more issues.

                                                  Scrum teams work in such a way that you should break down the problem and start addressing it piece by piece (user stories, epics, features) instead of dealing with the whole project all at once.


                                                  Start a Scrum team with a kickoff training event.  Ensure everyone on the team understands Scrum and their roles.  Build a team backlog to define the product vision and future work.  Deliver working increments of your product each Sprint and show it to your customers and stakeholders to help teams learn and pivot.  Encourage teams when things are hard and expect great things.

                                                  Next Steps If You Want to Start a Scrum Team

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