Endless Agile Roles and Job Titles MUST STOP!

Updated: Feb 2

I have been the participant in many sessions over the years where the intent was to clarify the roles and responsibilities of participants, bystanders or others involved in the process of becoming more Agile as a team or organization. Without fail, those sessions follow a pattern of identifying existing responsibilities of the aforementioned roles, and oftentimes extrapolation of appropriate titles associated with them. What doesn’t have to follow that is the complicated mess of slicing and dicing the roles so much that they no longer have relevance back to the original intent of the roles. When the job titles have so many layers that it is hard to understand where the responsibility of one person stops and another begins, it’s time to start simplifying. So, for that sake of simplicity, let’s take a look at the roles that should exist within and in support of an Agile Team.

Simplicity with Agile Team Roles

The main job function of any given role should fall within the confines of three key areas. As an organization we have defined this before and it shouldn’t be new to any purveyor of the Dark Arts that are Agile. However, we need to ask ourselves what the extra job title or extra role does that doesn’t fit into the following categories. Keep in mind that with some potential titles associated with each of the roles, they are in no way intended to be exhaustive:

  • Customer – Product Owner, Product Manager, Business Analyst, Technical Analyst, Functional Analyst, etc.

  • Facilitator – Scrum Master, Agile Coach, Release Train Engineer, etc.

  • Implementer – Developer, Tester, Trainer, UX Designer, etc.

We should be asking the question of what our job does in relationship to the Customer, Facilitator or Implementor role that becomes defined at a high level. What part do we play, or should we play, on a team that is implementing a business solution or product for the company. If for any reason it doesn’t fall in one of these categories, don’t fret, there are still roles that support the Agile Team(s) in their path towards success that I will talk about further below.

To help identify the correct level of detail needed for each role, it may be necessary to have the people for the respective roles meet together to discuss and determine what they are really responsible for at the team level. At the very least, the Customer and Facilitator role should meet together to ensur