The 3 Scrum Roles and Responsibilities, Explained

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A guide to the three different Scrum roles—Scrum master, project manager and development team, including what each team member contributes, how they work together and how they may overlap. You will learn about salaries, certifications how to get started.

[Featured Image]: A Scrum team, including Scrum Master and product owner.

A Scrum team is made up of three roles: the Scrum master, the product owner, and development team members.

Scrum, a type of project management methodology, has many fans. It’s the most commonly used Agile methodology by far, with 81 per cent of Agile adopters using Scrum or a Scrum-related hybrid, according to a survey published in 2021. Scrum was also among the most in-demand tech skills in July 2021, and according to data from Burning Glass—project management was the first. So what exactly does it look like to work with Scrum? Here are the three roles you can expect to find on a Scrum team.

What are the three Scrum roles?

A Scrum team consists of three distinct roles: the Scrum master, the product owner, and development team members. While there is only one Scrum master and one product owner, there are generally several development team members. 

Scrum teams are small; the Scrum Guide recommends ten or fewer total members to make sure communication and productivity are optimal. Let’s take a closer look at what the responsibilities are for each of these roles.


1. Scrum master

A Scrum master is the person responsible for making sure a Scrum team is operating as effectively as possible with Scrum values. This means they keep the team on track, plan and lead meetings, and work out any obstacles the team might face. Scrum masters might also work in a larger role within an organisation to help it incorporate Scrum concepts into their work. Given that they are both a leader and a behind-the-scenes supporter, they are often described as the “servant leader” of the Scrum team.

Scrum can look different from organisation to organisation and team to team, making the specific tasks of a Scrum master varied. Broadly, however, a Scrum master might have the following responsibilities:


  • Facilitating daily Scrum meetings (also called “daily standups”) 

  • Leading sprint planning meetings

  • Conducting “retrospective” reviews to see what went well and what can be improved for the following sprint

  • Keeping a pulse on team members, through individual meetings or other means of communication

  • Managing obstacles that arise for the team by communicating with stakeholders outside of the team

2. Product owner

A product owner makes sure the Scrum team is aligned with the goals of the overall product that the team is contributing to. They understand the business needs of the product, like customer expectations, and market trends. Due to the fact that they have to understand how the Scrum team fits into bigger picture goals, product owners usually stay in touch with product managers and other stakeholders outside the team. 

Product owners might find themselves with the following responsibilities:


  • Managing the product backlog by ordering work by priority

  • Setting the product vision for the team

  • Communicating with external stakeholders and translating their needs to the team

  • Making sure the team is focused on hitting product needs through communication and evaluating progress


3. Development team

A development team is composed of the professionals who do the hands-on work of completing the tasks in a Scrum sprint. This means development team members can be computer engineers, designers, writers, data analysts, or any other role needed to reach sprint goals. The development team doesn’t just wait for orders; they usually collaborate to map out goals and plans for achieving them.

Not all development team members will always have the same responsibilities. For example, if you’re updating a website, you might have a front-end engineer, UX designer, copywriter, and marketing professional all working on the same Scrum team. The responsibilities of a development team will also depend on the end goals of the Scrum team. Broadly speaking however, you might find that a development team can be tasked with the following:


  • Helping in sprint planning and goal setting

  • Lending expertise to program, design, or improving products

  • Using data to find best practices for development

  • Testing products and prototypes, plus other forms of quality assurance


Getting started with Scrum

Whether you’re an aspiring Scrum master or trying to incorporate Scrum principles into your team, the first step to getting started is to learn more about the project management methodology. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate. A course dedicated to Agile and Scrum concepts can provide you with a solid foundation to get started.

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