Intro to Scrum (5 of 16): What are Developers?

What are Developers?

While Scrum started with software development, the developer accountability is no longer just about developing code. So then what are Developers exactly? Are technical writers or Quality Assurance people considered “Developers”? In this vlog I’m going to go over what a Developer is and how it’s defined in the Scrum Guide.

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Developers are the people on a Scrum Team that develop value. They build usable increments every Sprint; something that meets your Definition of Done. Now, exactly the skills required for Developers is going to completely depend on your organization and what you’re building. 

However, the Developers are always accountable for the following. One, creating a plan for the Sprint – the Sprint Backlog. Two, instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done. Three, measuring their progress towards Sprint Goals and the Daily Scrum. And four, holding each other accountable as professionals. Now that’s pretty much all the Scrum Guide has to say about Developers. So I’m going to throw in a few extra tips, something to keep in mind.

The Developers really need all the skills necessary to develop value. So if you need a quality assurance person in order to meet your Definition of Done well, then you should have one on the team somewhere and they’re likely going to be a Developer. If you build anything at all on the Scrum Team you’re considered a Developer.

So if your Product Owner is doing the testing well they’re kind of considered a Developer sometimes. If your Scrum Master is doing documentation that’s required, then sometimes they’re acting like a Developer too. And it’s perfectly okay on a Scrum Team to play more than one accountability. It does have an impact on focus, but you can do it.

Another thing, Developers focus on Sprint Goals. Not so much the day to day minutiae. So if we divide and conquer in a Sprint Planning meeting and then throughout the Sprint, we’re just focused on our own work and we’re not coming together and collaborating towards a goal we’re missing a broader option to come together as a team to solve complex problems, and to deliver value by accomplishing Sprint Goals. 

Developers run their own Daily Scrum meetings. The Scrum Master is merely optional. Remember, self-management is super important to a Scrum Team. So with the Developers, that’s a meeting for them, they can conduct it all on their own. The Scrum Master merely just helps them understand how it works and helps them keep it to the time box.

Who makes good Developers? Well, good team players. “That’s not my job!” You don’t hear that on a good Scrum Team. Moreover, people with a can-do attitude make great Scrum Team members and great Developers. Another thing that makes great Developers is people that can act with a high level of professionalism. We have a lot of responsibility on a Scrum Team as Developers, and so maintaining professionalism on that team is extremely important.

If all of this information about Scrum is interesting to you and you’d like to learn more, please join us in one of our Applying Professional Scrum courses, Professional Scrum Master courses, or Professional Product Owner courses. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us.

Robert Pieper

Robert Pieper has been a licensed Professional Scrum Trainer since 2014 and National Public Speaker since 2013. Robb holds an MBA from Marquette University and an Electrical Engineering Degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Robb has 15 years of professional software development experience with a passion for making Scrum work delivering real products and services
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