11 agile roles and responsibilities decoded

agile roles and responsibilities image

Scaling agile comes with many challenges, one of which is assembling cross-functional teams based on the agile principles of autonomy and collaboration. You want clearly defined roles that leave room for teamwork and individuality. 

Regardless of the agile framework you implement, there’s no hard and fast agile team structure to adhere to. You’ll assemble the teams and establish methodologies based on project activities, workflows, and required agile roles. But there are best practices you can follow to ensure you build an efficient and effective group. 

Agile team-building best practices 

Consider the following factors when defining agile roles and responsibilities within your project teams: 

  • These may not be stand-alone positions: Depending on the size and complexity of your organization and products, roles and responsibilities might fluctuate depending on project work. Respect this flexibility, expressing this likelihood when assigning roles to teammates. 
  • Agile teams are cross-functional: While each team plays a crucial role, encourage constant cross-departmental communication so everyone understands the collaboration necessary to deliver outstanding customer value. 
  • Collaboration is key: Leveraging agile’s collaborative nature also broadens each team member’s capacities and organically builds flexibility into your teams. Each person develops a T-shaped skill set by working alongside their colleagues and participating in cross-training. The horizontal line represents a general understanding of skills absorbed through exposure to different disciplines, while the vertical line represents the depth of their core expertise.
  • You’ll want a non-hierarchical structure: Agile team members have defined roles and responsibilities but operate independently, determining their workflows and methods. This autonomy makes employees feel in control of and responsible for their output. It also encourages them to remain flexible and problem-solve on the spot to resume work quicker.



11 Agile at Scale roles

The team roles you define depend on where you’re at in embracing the agile organizational and project management methodology. If you’re using a Scrum-based model, you’ll have mandatory roles to fill, like a product owner and Scrum Master. And Kanban takes a more fluid approach without prescribed roles. 

No matter your setup, here are 11 of the most common agile roles throughout various approaches to agile implementation.

1. Product owner

Within the agile team structure, the product owner represents stakeholder interests and communicates the project’s requirements and expectations to the team. They’re also responsible for:

  • Establishing the project’s main objective and priorities
  • Ensuring the project aligns with the organization’s long-term vision and business goals
  • Considering customer feedback and adjusting deliverables to meet stakeholder and end-user requirements

2. Scrum Master

Based on instructions from the product owner, the Scrum Master coordinates the team’s activities through sprint planning and backlog management. This teammate also ensures each member successfully completes their tasks, acting as a:

  • Coach, helping team members focus on project completion and improve their performance
  • Facilitator, maintaining open communication channels between the product owner and working group members
  • Agile subject matter expert, overseeing all project activities to ensure they adhere to the agile methodology and standards

3. Project manager (PM)

An agile PM works closely with the product owner to guide the product development process from start to finish. This involves: 

  • Organizing project timelines, budgets, and resources 
  • Tracking task progress and keeping everyone on schedule
  • Identifying and mitigating project risks
  • Coordinating with external vendors 
  • Facilitating change management processes
  • Drafting reports to track project progress and team performance

4. Release train engineer (RTE)

These teammates are responsible for managing the cross-functional teams known as agile release trains (ARTs) to ensure everyone works together effectively to deliver value. They’ll: 

  • Guide and support their “train” 
  • Monitor team metrics and report on an ART’s success
  • Organize retrospective analyses of team activities to identify and roadmap iterative process improvements

5. Solution architect (SA)

The solution architect works with system and enterprise architects on larger projects, providing technical leadership for an ART or a solution train (a larger construct coordinating multiple ARTs). The SA defines and communicates the project’s shared technical and architectural vision with team members to ensure alignment. They also: 

  • Make sure deliverables meet the client’s technical requirements
  • Develop prototypes to identify technical limitations
  • Research current and emerging technologies to anticipate changing customer and client expectations

6. Business owner

The business owner is the primary stakeholder responsible for business and technical governance, compliance, and return on investment (ROI) for a solution developed by an ART. Business owners:

  • Ensure ARTs and PMs comprehend and are aligned with business objectives
  • Draft business context plans that outline how a project’s milestones and deliverables are relevant to overarching company goals
  • Address impediments and work to secure investment
  • Collaborate with the product owner and PM to develop a product release strategy

7. System team

A system team helps build and maintain an agile development environment, often taking care of integration, end-to-end testing, and other technical tasks that support ART activities. They’re also responsible for:

  • Maintaining the continuous delivery pipeline 
  • Developing platforms and environments for user acceptance testing, solution demonstration, and deployment
  • Facilitating the functionality of third-party partnerships, like hosting and data management services

8. Shared services

This category represents specialized capabilities necessary to deploy an agile project successfully, like:

  • Security specialists
  • Database administrators
  • UX designers
  • Application/web portal managers
  • DevOps specialists
  • Data modeling and engineering professionals
  • Database support
  • Enterprise architecture engineers
  • Information architecture specialists
  • QA testers

9. Epic owner

In agile project management, an epic is a large body of work an epic owner breaks down into a portfolio of smaller tasks and projects. They’ll then work closely with all relevant stakeholders to manage the epic’s completion. This involves: 

  • Working with product owners, solutions architects, and PMs to divide the epic into projects and subtasks, incorporate them into Scrum backlogs, and prioritize items within sprints
  • Collaborate with agile teams to perform research, create proof of concepts, and make mock-ups ahead of production
  • Coordinate and synchronize epic release activities with sales, marketing, and other departments
  • Facilitate the epic’s implementation through the iterative delivery pipeline

10. Customer

The customer’s role is expanded under agile methodology to include all internal and external stakeholders who are a solution’s ultimate consumers. They provide valuable feedback and guide the direction of product development. 

Whether explicitly or via market research, customers: 

  • Define the deliverable’s high and low-level requirements
  • Establish the development order of each feature or function, as this is often based on end-user value
  • Offer feedback that a team can implement when creating or updating a product

11. Supplier

Suppliers offer any relevant materials a team needs to execute a project. PMs often work closely with suppliers to determine:

  • Delivery timelines
  • Supply costs
  • Potential delays

Tempo offers the perfect tools for an agile team

No matter the roles you assign when creating your agile team, you can use Tempo’s tools to facilitate the product creation process. Coordinate your Agile at Scale team to deliver the right work at the right time by using Roadmunk by Tempo to outline your projects and sprints. Then, integrate these roadmaps with Structure by Tempo to manage your epic portfolios and deliver the high-level flexibility and agility your organization needs to stay competitive.

For more resources like this visit tempo.io/agile-at-scale.

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