Ask that question and you face one more: What am I asking about? In the spirit and work of the Agile scrum, the developers take responsibility for producing the increment, the iteration, and in that sense own the product quality. As part of this process, teams often rotate developers across project modules to facilitate collective ownership of the quality.
In the spirit and work of the word itself, “owns” points to the whole product development team that includes the product owner and the scrum master. They are integral to the development team and key to the foundation of the scrum framework. The team that owns the quality is a team that operates under agile scrum methodology. The product owner and scrum master ensure that agile criteria are met.
Owning the quality suggests scrum team satisfaction with a bright outcome, but remember that the stakes are always high — and flexible. The process of producing high-quality increments results from the work of able and dedicated scrum team members.
Agile project management and the entire team organize around the methodology of agile principles. The team embraces responsive planning to maintain continuous improvement, quality assurance confirmation by testers and end users, attention to user stories, and recognition of team success by respect for the definition of done.
Singular to the organization of agile teams across industries is that all management functions emerge out of the collaboration among team members, including the product owner, stakeholders, and the scrum master, as well as business analysts, DevOps (software development and IT operations experts), front-end and backend developers, and iteration testers. This entire team works in sync throughout the agile software development process.
The product owner keeps the scrum team’s focus on the customer’s perspective. In face-to-face communications, they make sure that project vision and market strategy remain central to project management. They maintain the product backlog and define acceptance criteria for each product backlog item, and they engage stakeholders, end users, and sometimes other product owners in the development process. The product owner is knowledgeable about both the product and the development process and is, most importantly, empowered to make decisions.
The Scrum Guide (see scrum.org for a details) describes the scrum framework as a creative and efficient tool for developing products of high quality and value. Self-organizing, cross-functional teams collaborate and experiment to produce quality increments releasable to the end user. That’s tidy, but the real work of this high-performing development team is even more interesting.
The development team — including the product owner and scrum master — decide how to turn product backlog items into high performing increments, or iterations. The team members have no titles and there are no sub-teams, because all necessary skills and commitment to the project are already parts of the whole.
Two or more scrum teams can use the lightweight methodology of the scrum framework to approach more complex projects, from sprint planning to the daily scrum and scrum events.
Quality worth owning
The scrum master
In the scrum framework, the scrum master is the facilitator of continuous improvement in the work of the development team. This designated servant leader for the scrum team identifies and eliminates impediments to collaboration toward a successful product increment, maximising functionality and business value.
The scrum master plays an essential scrum role and it does not overstate his importance to say that this servant leader ensures that the quality of the increment is worth owning.
The scrum master is teacher, facilitator, conflict manager, and unafraid of productive, even disruptive, change necessary to reach that definition of done. A great scrum master isn’t noticeable, unless needed. And when needed, ready to guide and inspire, always on task and always listening. They make sure scrum events, like the sprint review and sprint retrospective, are organized and entertaining, with clear purpose and productive outcomes.
Owning quality in a scrum team
The standup daily scrum is a dynamic part of scrum team work. Scheduled for the team by the team, it takes place at a time that respects all team members. Coming together in common purpose, team members can inspect and adapt the development team’s progress toward the sprint goal. Developers discuss current user stories to help them reach agreement on the product backlog items they can complete during the sprint.
The scrum master is ever committed to achieving the sprint goal. In the scrum, delivery of a high quality increment focuses on customer satisfaction and a working product, and it’s not always about meeting prescribed or even tested metrics. The quality and value of the iteration is the direct result of a constantly dynamic scrum.
To say that the customer owns the quality seems correct, if we think in the transactional sense. To say that the scrum team owns the quality points to a different model, the agile model that engages the energy of the full collaboration among focused professionals to achieve the sprint goal, the working product.
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