Agile Development

How to Structure a Scrum Team?





Agile Development


How to Structure a Scrum Team?

Published: 2023/08/04

7 min read

Whether you’re a sports coach or a business leader, if you want success, you had better put the best team together. The scrum approach can help you succeed in the software development world, but what is it, why is it important, how large is the typical team, and what benefits does this approach offer?

Crouch. Bind. Set. Every rugby fan recognizes this clarion call as the setting up and clashing of the scrum in this gentlemen’s sport. The scrum, a crucial part of rugby, can occur multiple times during a game, giving both teams an opportunity to reset and rethink their game plan if necessary. 

And it’s this ability to reset, rethink and reprioritize your goals that gave the popular approach to software development – scrum – its name. 

Why choose the scrum approach?

Like in rugby, the typical scrum approach guarantees you learn from your experiences by sizing up a challenge and focusing on what works and what doesn’t for your team – in real-time. It achieves this through short iterative periods called sprints, which enable teams to break down complex projects into more manageable pieces.

This approach enables your team to build higher quality products much faster and more frequently, while giving them the room they need to adapt to changes when necessary. In short, it’s one of the ways to if you are asking yourself how to improve scrum team productivity.  

The scrum development approach also creates more transparency around projects. Shorter sprints offer users a chance to give more feedback on a product, which enables your developers to build what your customers need quickly and easily. 

This is why the typical scrum development approach is so popular. Beyond increasing time to market and delivering value to organizations faster, it reduces costs – regardless of project size or complexity. What’s more, shorter sprints mean project milestones are met much quicker, leading to an increased sense of progress within your development team that strengthens employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Knowing what scrum is, and some of the benefits surrounding this approach, is just the beginning. Organizations thinking about implementing scrum methodologies no doubt want to know how to ensure they get the best out of a scrum team and what do they need to be aware of to assemble the right people who know how to engage customers moving forward? 

What makes a good scrum team?

Every scrum team consists of a dedicated software development team who want to design intuitive, memorable products for their clients and customers. These specialists are typically divided into the following types of roles: 

Product owners: the coaches of the team, these individuals drive the entire scrum process. They know the project’s vision and how to achieve it. They’re aware of what the customer wants, and what other companies are doing. This means they’re responsible for prioritizing the workload during different sprints, guaranteeing the objective of each sprint is met and ensuring their vision and product becomes a true champion.  

Scrum masters: the team captains, they know the scrum process inside-and-out. These are the people on your team who keep the product owner’s vision on track from day one, and they’re the people who train product owners, development teams, and even your business on how the scrum development process works and the benefits it brings to your organization. They’re also responsible for finetuning any practices that may need attention, to ensure sprint deadlines are met and product quality remains high during the development process. 

Development teams: the players on your team, they’re the designers and developers who do the day-to-day work to ensure the product owner’s vision and sprint objectives are realized. They achieve this by collaborating with the product owner to decide how much work can be completed in each sprint. They also work with scrum masters to refine practices as they learn what works best from sprint to sprint. 

These three roles working together are what makes a good scrum team. However, how many scrum masters and developers should a good scrum team have to guarantee results?  

​​​​What is the ideal scrum team size?

To answer this question let’s look at the scrum guide. It recommends no more than 3-9 members should be executing a sprint backlog. However, this estimation doesn’t include a product owner or scrum master. Therefore, the typical scrum team size should be around 11 members (9 developers, 1 product owner, and 1-2 scrum masters). 

Though you may be surprised by how small it is, there’s logic to it. Think about this, there are 15 players on a rugby team – how many of them do you think are close friends? The reality is there are probably small groups that get on well together off the pitch rather than everyone being close personally. Why? Because it’s easier for the human brain to build real connections in smaller groups. This is why it’s better to keep your own scrum as small as possible, as a smaller team makes things easier to track and ensures everyone is on the same page. 

With larger scrum teams there’s a risk of things falling through the cracks and sprint deadlines being missed. That’s why here’s a case to be made for creating a second scrum team to work on the same project. 

If the project goals change or your budget increases, then having two separate scrum teams in play does have its benefits as it makes meeting sprint goals and completing tasks much easier. But if you put together a second team, be sure that your scrum masters also have daily meetings with each other, as well as their own teams. This is the best method for ensuring everyone is working towards the same goal, and encouraging cross functionality across both teams. 

Features of a successful scrum team

There are four main features common to every successful scrum team. These are: 

  • Sharing locations: the scrum team that stays together makes waves together. Working in the same physical space is crucial to the success of any scrum effort. Sometimes, project owners can be located somewhere else, but having your scrum master(s) and development team be able to connect face-to-face is crucial if you want to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Having a product owner in the U.S., a scrum master in Europe, and a development team in Asia can seriously hinder the progress of your project and hurt team morale. Therefore, before you bind your scrum team together, ensure everyone responsible for the day-to-day running of your efforts is in the same location, if possible, if not, maybe a scrum offshore development is an option?
  • Staying dedicated: Minimize distractions for your scrum team by helping them focus on backlogs, not projects. Did you know that switching between projects can cost your employees 15 mins of their workday? This is why you need to focus on just giving your scrum team(s) access to product backlog lists. Even if they’re from two different projects, having your team(s) focus solely on backlog lists makes understanding what needs to be done much easier and reduces distractions as your developers can focus on the task in front of them
  • Keeping teams together after projects: Scrum teams are for life, not just projects. Building off the last point, there’s no rule that says you need to disband scrum teams after a project is done. There’ll always be another project, so why can’t that same team work on that too? This approach means that your scrum team(s) know how to work together from day one of any new project, which leads to higher quality products much earlier in the iteration process as everyone already knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Is it an exact science? No. Perhaps you need to add a new joiner into the mix after someone leaves the company. This will lower the quality of your products for a few iterations as your new joiner learns to work with the rest of the team. However, it’s much easier to train in one new joiner than wait for an entire team to learn to work together.
  • Encouraging cross functionality: Succeeding in any market today means learning new skills, which is why the final key to developing any successful scrum team is encouraging them to widen their skillset. This can be done by consulting with colleagues outside of their scrum about certain skills they’re interested in, asking for advice, and then bringing back what they’ve learned to their own team. 

Forget project size, remember these typical scrum team rules  

And there’s the final whistle. You now understand what makes the scrum approach so popular, the typical size of a good scrum (3-11 individuals), and some of the key features of a good scrum team – namely co-location, dedication, stability, and cross-functionality. If you’d like more information, get in touch by filling out the contact form. Software Mind’s dedicated software developers are ready to help you put together a winning scrum team.

About the authorSoftware Mind

Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world. 

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