The Agile Team consists of a cross-functional group of individuals which is necessary to define, build and test the product that will meet the requirements of the customers.(“Scaled Agile Framework”, 2014). Unlike traditional approach where each team member is assigned tasks by the manager, Agile team is self-organized and self-managed. “Self-organizing Agile teams are composed of individuals manage their own workload, shift work among themselves based on need and best fit, and participate in team decision making. Self-organizing teams must have common focus, mutual trust, respect, and the ability to organize repeatedly to meet new challenges.” (Hoda et al, 2013).
There are several roles in the agile team, which have different names depending on the methodology being followed. A typical agile team structure consists of a scrum master, a product owner, developers and testers.
A Scrum Master facilitates the meetings and team interactions. A Product Owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the requirements, accepting or rejecting the completed work and communicating project status to stakeholders.
When a product owner defines the requirements, it is added in a product backlog. Backlogs are lists of features/tasks to be developed. Each feature in the product backlog is prioritized by the product owner. In the sprint planning meeting, the product owner selects items from the product backlog to the sprint backlog during the next sprint (Paasivaara et al, 2009). The sprint backlog contains a detailed list of all the tasks that your team must complete in order to finish the user stories for the sprint. “In the product backlog, your team estimates user stories with the relative unit of story points. In the sprint backlog, your team estimates tasks in hours (Comparing the product and sprint backlogs).
The items in the backlog are goal-oriented where they focus on the “what” rather than the “how” (Mansour). It can have any format such as a text file, a database or Excel document. As the project progresses, new features/tasks can be added, deleted or replaced to the backlog depending on the changes in the project requirements. Basically, the backlog is a to-do list for your project that provides an understanding of the project’s goal and gives the direction to accomplish a project. “The backlog is a living artifact and is never complete.” (Mansour).
The agile development gives importance to all the team members and have them participate in team decision making. So the agile team is empowered to continuously assess the plan throughout the development lifecycle. Hence, the team is highly motivated and takes responsibilities of their roles. Instead of focusing on ‘my task’, their focus is on the overall goal of the product. As there is more communication with the customers, the team listens to the needs of customers and respond immediately. The backlog lives as long as product lives and will continue to adapt as the team learns more about their customers and market opportunities.
- Agile Teams (July 2014). Retrieved September 21, 2014 from
- Hoda, R., Noble, J. & Marshall, S., “Self-Organizing Roles on Agile Software Development Teams,” Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on , vol.39, no.3, pp.422,444, March 2013 doi: 10.1109/TSE.2012.30
- Paasivaara, M., Durasiewicz, S., Lassenius, C., “Using Scrum in Distributed Agile Development: A Multiple Case Study,” Global Software Engineering, 2009. ICGSE 2009. Fourth IEEE International Conference on , vol., no., pp.195,204, 13-16 July 2009 doi: 10.1109/ICGSE.2009.27
- Comparing the Product and Sprint Backlogs. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from
- Mansour M. Scrum’s Product Backlog – Agile Requirements Management. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from
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- Rubin, K. S. (2012, July 25). The importance of the Product Backlog on a Scrum Development Project [Online Image]. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from