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The Development Team

Responsibilities of the Scrum Development Team

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Responsibilities of the Scrum Development Team

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Scrum Master Certification program.

The Development team at Scrum has between 3 and 9 developers in total. The Scrum Master and Product Owner roles are not included.

  1. Reasons for limiting the Development Team
  2. Development Team and its physical location
  3. The Development Team in Scrum is self-organized and cross-functional
    1. Self-organization
    2. Indications for a self-organizing Development Team
  4. Cross-functionality
  5. Responsibilities of the Development Team
    1. Resolving problems
    2. The Development Team needs to be protected
    3. The Development Team must be united
    4. The Development team is most knowledgeable about technology and expertise
    5. The Development team is welcome to refuse work
  6. Estimating the development time required to complete a User Story
    1. Relative time
  7. Supporting the Scrum Process
  8. Pair programming

If the team has one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and a Development team of three, the entire Scrum Team is made up of 5 participants in total.

If the Scrum Master and the Product Owner are not part of the Development Team, then the entire Scrum Team will be 11 people total.

If the Scrum Master and the Product Owner take two roles and they are also developers, then the entire Scrum team will be 9 people.

Reasons for limiting the Development Team

The reason behind the suggested limit is that fewer participants will make it challenging to develop a product, and any more would create difficulties complying with the rules and principles of Scrum.

Development Team and its physical location

The main idea for small teams is to achieve self-organization and quick communication in the workplace.

However, these desired effects cannot be guaranteed. The Scrum Master role, as well as the entire Scrum team, must strive for speed and efficiency.

Globally, many organizations use remote teams and Scrum practices at the same time. This can diminish the effectiveness of communication and interaction between teams. 

The Development Team in Scrum is self-organized and cross-functional

The main features of the Scrum Development team are self-organization and cross-functionality.


What does self-organization mean when talking about the team? It means that Scrum represents the idea that every member of the team should be active and make their own decisions instead of waiting for orders from management roles.

Scrum does not by itself provide clear instructions about self-organization, but it can be expressed in individual decisions as well as group ones. Time optimization, self-monitoring, workflows, and many other topics can all be taken into account.

Trust among team members is another factor that can increase the productivity of a team.

Competence is another important factor. If a team member has difficulty, then he or she should try to acquire additional skills, or work together with the team to do so.

The Scrum Master role has a significant influence on the self-organization of the team. Guidance, encouragement, and giving attention to all these topics may be required to keep the team focused on their goals.

Indications for a self-organizing Development Team

The main indications that a team can be defined as self-organizing can be the following:

  • The team does not have a specific person who makes decisions for everyone or orders others.
  • The whole team takes responsibility for the work that is done.
  • The team and its members choose their tasks themselves, without anyone else assigning them.
  • There should be no situation where Scrum Master, Product Owner, or some team leader assigns tasks.
  • All decisions and all teamwork are focused on achieving the Sprint goal.
  • The entire team and all members estimate the time required to develop tasks.
  • The team provides the work itself.
  • The whole team keeps track of their progress and tries to go according to plan.
  • The team inspects its work and makes the necessary improvements.


Cross-functionality means that all team members and all their general skills are entirely sufficient for the development of the whole product without the need for severe external intervention.

For example, if the product being developed is a mobile application, then at a minimum the Development team should probably include the following specialists:

  • Developer, Mobile Technology (Mobile Development)
  • User Interface Designer (UI Design)
  • Quality Control Specialist (QA)
  • System Support and Development Operations Specialist (DevOps)

In such a composition, the team probably can produce the product.

If the Development team consists of the minimum eligible Scrum participants - 3 participants - then they appear to be insufficient for the development of the product.

If the complete skill set of the team is less than the total skills and qualifications required to create the product, the most common practice and the most logical step would be to form a team of professionals who have more than one professional skill.

To develop a mobile application with a team of three participants, if four areas of qualification are required, one team member must have more than one qualification.

The Mobile Developer from the example above may have competencies to handle tasks such as servicing App Store operations, server setup, Cloud Spaces, or anything else that may need to be completed in order to deliver a fully operational mobile application, downloadable and installable.

Another option might be if the designer, for example, has all the skills and competence to handle all the QA work.

Responsibilities of the Development Team

  • Creates the so-called Product Increment - product update and enhancement.
  • Shares responsibility for creating a quality product, along with the Product Owner role.
  • Shares estimated time to complete their tasks.
  • Follows all Scrum rules and principles.

The entire Scrum team spends its time working on the Product Increment and working on the planned User Stories until each User Story is ready and evaluated (for example, with Ready status).

Resolving problems

When a member of the team is experiencing difficulties, or there is some obstacle to his/her work, he/she must notify the Scrum Master role.

The Scrum Master role should try to resolve the problem of the team member as quickly as possible.

If a person outside the team interferes with the work of a team member, for example, by contacting them or preventing them from performing their duties, the Scrum Master should be involved in the situation.

All members of the Development Team should try to remove their obstacles on their own, as they must develop skills in organizing and solving problems.

The Development Team needs to be protected

The Scrum Master role protects the team from outside interference like distracting and disturbing factors.

If a member of another team or a business stakeholder wants something, the Scrum Master role must be involved and act appropriately and reasonably. If the situation is fragile, the Scrum Master role offers assistance and explains that they will look into the case, and that the team should remain focused on their responsibilities.

If external intervention involves a work request that needs to be done, the Scrum Master role seeks assistance from the Product Owner role who needs to take action. The Product Owner will, at its discretion, decide to add or ignore this request for new development to the Product Backlog list.

The Development Team must be united

Sharing product quality responsibility may not simply mean that the Development team adheres to the requirements and specifications of their tasks. The Development Team must be united in its practice, its processes, and in finding the right development tools and tests. A certain dose of product care would be a perfect addition to the quality of the product.

It is appropriate for the Development team to choose their working technologies and tools without outsiders requiring specific ones. This freedom of choice allows the Development Team to pick tools and technologies that can achieve better results than those imposed by outsiders.

The Development team is most knowledgeable about technology and expertise

The Development team is most knowledgeable about their skills, technology, level of competence. The team is used to specific tools. When it uses resources with which it has previous experience, the confidence of everyone is greater. Confidence can be a factor in increasing the overall quality of the product and reducing possible errors and defects.

The Development team is welcome to refuse work

The Development team is welcome to refuse to work on a particular User Story during a Sprint if some of the team members are convinced that there is something wrong with the specific User Story. In this case, the team members should discuss their concerns with the Product Owner role.

Possible irregularities in a planned User Story could be, for example, unclear or incomplete requirements, fulfillment failure, or any other aspects that would harm the product as a whole.

In this case, the Product Owner role must accept these comments, understand them, and take the necessary steps to improve or change the planned work (the User Story).

Estimating the development time required to complete a User Story

One essential part of the Development Team’s work is to determine the estimated development time of the User Stories planned for a Sprint. This defines the amount of work they can do for an iteration (Sprint).

The team anticipates the necessary effort to fully complete the work required based on their experience, knowledge, practice, skills, as well as previously done work in the last Sprint.

Relative time

There are two types of development time estimations. The first one is the accurate time to complete tasks — for example, one day or 4 hours. However, Agile practices recommend the use of relative values. The Development Team suggests time only as a guideline, not with accuracy. It is assumed that when estimating the required time for tasks, team members still have no idea how exactly they will perform their work and may lack specific details.

The fixed and always equal length of the Sprint provides the Development team with a measure of their finished work. Also, for future Sprints, estimating the amount of work becomes easier.

Supporting the Scrum Process

Each team member has the responsibility to follow and respect the Scrum process and to ensure that the other members of the team do the same. This is a core responsibility of the Scrum Мaster role, but the entire Scrum team should also support Scrum practices to some extent.

Everyone participating in Scrum events does not miss them or ignore them and is aware of their importance.

Development team members always have an idea of ​​what other team members are doing. The development team maintains the highest level of transparency and does not hide problems.

The technical knowledge and specifics of working on the product are shared with everyone. In this way, if a member leaves the team, the loss will be easier to recover.

Pair programming

Pair programming is another practice that is sometimes used by Agile teams when working on a technology or software product. Generally speaking, it is programming work, or any other kind of technical work, in which a senior and a beginner team member work together on a single task, from one computer, or another work tool.

Pair programming makes it easier for beginners to get into the matter quickly and easily, and everyone has shared knowledge of specific technical topics.

The following issues related to chapter "The Development Team" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of June 11, 2024, 9:34 am

ID Issue Time Category
0 Pair programming 60 sec SM, PO
1 The Development Team needs to be protected 60 sec SM, PO
2 The Development Team in Scrum is self-organized and cross-functional 60 sec SM, PO
3 Responsibilities of the Development Team 60 sec SM, PO
4 The Development team is most knowledgeable about technology and expertise 60 sec SM, PO
5 Reasons for limiting the Development Team 60 sec SM, PO
6 Relative time 60 sec SM, PO
7 Indications for a self-organizing Development Team 60 sec SM, PO
8 The Development team is welcome to refuse work 60 sec SM, PO
9 Resolving problems 60 sec SM, PO
10 The Development Team must be united 60 sec SM, PO
11 Supporting the Scrum Process 60 sec SM, PO
12 Cross-functionality 60 sec SM, PO
13 Development Team and its physical location 60 sec SM, PO
14 Estimating the development time required to complete a User Story 60 sec SM, PO
15 Self-organization 60 sec SM, PO

Comments from the BVOP™ community on "The Development Team"


Scrum's Development team consists of 3 to 9 developers, excluding the Scrum Master and Product Owner roles. The entire Scrum Team can have 5 members if the Development team has 3 members and the Scrum Master and Product Owner are present. If the Scrum Master and Product Owner are not part of the Development team, the entire Scrum Team will have 11 members. The team size can be limited to ensure effective product development and compliance with Scrum principles. Small teams can achieve self-organization and quick communication, but remote teams can reduce communication effectiveness. The Scrum Master and team should prioritize speed and efficiency.

Self-organization and cross-functionality

The Scrum Development Team is characterized by self-organization and cross-functionality. Self-organization means that each team member should actively participate in decision-making without waiting for orders from management. This involves optimizing time, monitoring workflows, and building trust among team members. Competence is also important, and team members should acquire additional skills if necessary. The Scrum Master plays a significant role in guiding and encouraging the team towards their goals.

A self-organizing Development Team is indicated by several factors, including the absence of a single decision-maker or task assigner, collective responsibility for work, autonomous task selection by team members, and a focus on achieving the Sprint goal. The team estimates task development time, provides their own work, tracks progress, and inspects and improves their work.

Necessary skills to develop the entire product

Cross-functionality means that all team members have the necessary skills to develop the entire product without external intervention. For a mobile application, the team should include a developer, UI designer, QA specialist, and DevOps specialist. If the team lacks the required skills, a team of professionals with multiple skills can be formed. For example, a mobile developer may also handle tasks such as server setup and Cloud Spaces. Alternatively, a designer may have the skills to handle QA work.

The Development Team is responsible for creating the Product Increment and ensuring a quality product is delivered. They estimate the time needed for their tasks and follow Scrum principles. The team works on User Stories until they are ready and evaluated. If a team member encounters difficulties or obstacles, they should notify the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master should try to resolve the issue quickly. If someone outside the team interferes with a team member's work, the Scrum Master should be involved. The team members should try to solve their own obstacles to develop problem-solving skills.

Protection of the Development Team

The Scrum Master protects the Development Team from external interference, including distracting requests. The Product Owner decides whether to add new requests to the Product Backlog list. The Development Team must be united in their processes, tools, and tests to ensure product quality. They have the freedom to choose their own working technologies and tools for better results.

The Development team is knowledgeable about their skills and technology, and they work best with tools they have experience with. Refusal to work on a User Story is allowed if there are concerns about its quality, which should be discussed with the Product Owner. The Product Owner should accept and address any issues raised to improve the overall product quality.

Completion of User Stories

The Development Team estimates the time needed to complete User Stories for a Sprint based on their experience and previous work. They use relative values instead of accurate time to estimate tasks, as Agile practices recommend. The fixed length of the Sprint allows for easier estimation of future work.

The Scrum process requires all team members to follow and respect it, with the Scrum Master having a core responsibility in ensuring this. The entire team should also support Scrum practices, attend events, and maintain transparency. Pair programming is a practice used by Agile teams where senior and beginner team members work together on a single task, making it easier for beginners to learn and share technical knowledge.

Comments on “Responsibilities of the Scrum Development Team”

  1. Gregory J, Cooper
    Hi BVOP. I work with a Scrum team, and I faced the following situation. The development team wants to appoint a Team lead to manage and support their functions and responsibilities. At the same time, we have a Scrum Master who is against this plan. The team has just been formed and we already encounter conflicts and problems that we cannot solve. Can you recommend any specific actions? Thanks in advance. Greetings from Greg
  2. Thomas King
    Firstly, it's essential to understand that Scrum is a framework that advocates for self-organizing teams. It means that the development team is responsible for managing their functions and responsibilities without the need for a designated team lead or manager. The Scrum Master's role is to facilitate the team's work, remove impediments, and promote continuous improvement. That being said, every team is unique, and there might be situations where a team lead can be useful, especially in the early stages of team formation. Therefore, it's crucial to have an open discussion within the team to identify the reasons behind the team lead's appointment and why the Scrum Master is against it. It could be that the team feels the need for additional support or guidance, or the Scrum Master might have concerns about the impact on team autonomy. Once the team has identified the underlying reasons and concerns, it's essential to address them openly and transparently. You can use the Scrum values of transparency, inspection, and adaptation to facilitate this discussion. The Scrum Master can act as a facilitator to ensure everyone's voice is heard and guide the team towards a mutually agreed solution. If the team decides to appoint a team lead, it's crucial to ensure that they understand their role and responsibilities within the Scrum framework. They should act as a servant leader, supporting the team rather than directing them. Additionally, the Scrum Master should work closely with the team lead to ensure alignment with Scrum values and principles. In conclusion, conflict and disagreements are common in any team, and it's essential to have open and honest discussions to address them. Using Scrum values and principles can help guide these discussions and lead to a mutually agreed solution that benefits the team and the project.
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