The Role of Management in Scrum

Scrum has received a lot of attention in recent years from organizations seeking to improve their project management capabilities in generating answers to complicated problems.

Scrum is presently the most prevalent Agile approach, with up to 81% of Agile teams utilizing some form of Scrum, according to this survey by Digital.ai.

For organizations doing an Agile transformation from a traditional waterfall approach, the process is rarely without some challenges and one of these is the role of the organization’s management in Scrum.

Given that Scrum is focused on self-organizing and self-managing teams, a key question is what is the function or purpose of management in Scrum?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key responsibilities of management in Scrum and how they contribute to the success of Scrum teams.

Understanding the Scrum Framework

Before understanding the role of management in Scrum and why it actually could be an issue in some organizations, it’s important to have a full grasp of the Scrum framework and the roles within a Scrum team.

Scrum is a lightweight framework that’s engineered to help organizations and people create value by providing adaptive solutions to complex problems.

It is a framework that is built on the collective intelligence of the team members using it and they’re self-organizing, cross-functional, and collaborative.

Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach that is propagated by a group of people with the necessary skills and expertise to do the work and share or acquire these skills as needed.

Scrum combines four formal events which implement empiricism via three pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation within a sprint which is the containing event.

These events are Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Scrum Roles

The Scrum Team consists of three roles: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Development Team.

The Product Owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the Product Backlog, while the Scrum Master ensures that the team follows Scrum principles and practices.

The Development Team works together to deliver increments of the product during each Sprint, which is a time-boxed period of work, usually lasting between two and four weeks.

It’s important to note that this team is self-organizing. The implication of this is that they internally decide who does what, when, and who. There is no manager making these decisions for the team.

Traditional Management vs Scrum Management

For starters, you need to have an idea of how management roles differ in Scrum from traditional management.

In traditional management, managers often control and direct their teams, assigning tasks and making decisions on behalf of the team.

In Scrum, the role of management is quite different as the framework embraces the concept of self-organization and empowers the team to make their own decisions.

While this shift in management style brings several benefits, such as increased adaptability, better decision-making, and higher team morale, it leaves the question of the role of management in Scrum unsolved.

What is the Function or Purpose of Management in Scrum

What is the Function or Purpose of Management in Scrum?

While Scrum teams are meant to be self-organizing, the role of management is still important. Managers in Scrum have more of a hands-off facilitator role rather than direct command and control.

The Scrum Guide says that the role of management is to”support the Product Owner with insights and information into high-value product and system capabilities. Support the Scrum Master to cause organizational change that fosters empiricism, self­-organization, bottom­up intelligence, and intelligent release of software.”

These are ways in which management can provide this support for Scrum in the organization and the team:

1. Defining the Vision and Mission

The management team is responsible for defining the overall mission and vision of the project. They need to determine the key problems that need to be solved and the key benefits that need to be delivered.

The Scrum team then figures out how exactly to build the product to meet that vision. The vision and mission provide purpose and guidance without being too prescriptive.

2. Securing Budget and Resources

Management is also responsible for securing budget, resources, and stakeholder support for the Scrum team. This includes everything from office space and computers to team member salaries.

They need to build a case for why resources should be allocated to the project and see that the right funding and resources are in place for the Scrum team to be successful.

3. Hiring the Right Talent

Hiring is one of the most important responsibilities of management in Scrum. They need to hire developers, designers, testers, and other roles that will make up a cross-functional Scrum team.

They should hire people that will work well together in a self-organizing team following the Agile values and principles. Hiring the right people significantly impacts the ability of the Scrum team to build a great product.

4. Providing Initial Training

While Scrum teams are meant to be self-organizing, management needs to provide some initial training on Scrum practices and values to ensure the team starts off on the right foot.

They should educate the team on principles like iterative development, collaboration, and embracing change. Management has an important role to play in fostering an Agile mindset.

5. Removing Impediments

A key part of the management role in Scrum is removing any impediments or obstacles that are blocking the Scrum team’s progress.

The Scrum Master is focused on the day-to-day operations of the team, so bigger roadblocks may need to be escalated to management to resolve.

Management has the authority and budget to deal with more substantial issues so the team can move forward productively.

6. Continuously Improving

Management should work with the Scrum teams to regularly inspect and adapt processes and tools.

They look at metrics and feedback to determine what’s working well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Management facilitates root cause analysis and helps come up with solutions for how teams can improve to build better products and optimize value.

Continuous improvement is key to mastery in Scrum.

7. Encouraging Collaboration

Management should encourage collaboration both within the Scrum team as well as with other stakeholders. by promoting a team-first mindset where people work together towards a shared goal.

Collaboration leads to greater innovation, shared knowledge, and higher-quality work.

Management can facilitate collaboration by providing open workspaces, opportunities for group interactions, and tools for communication and knowledge sharing.

8. Establishing Scrum Team Autonomy

While management is responsible for providing guidance and oversight, they need to empower Scrum teams to be autonomous.

This means giving them authority to determine how best to achieve the product vision. Scrum teams should be able to make their own decisions on how to plan, develop, test, and deploy software.

Autonomy leads to higher motivation and accountability. Management should trust that Scrum teams will determine the right path to success.

9. Limiting Unnecessary Meetings

One of the principles of Agile is individuals and interactions over processes and tools. While some level of process is necessary, too many mandated meetings and reports can hinder progress.

Management should avoid interrupting Scrum team members with unnecessary meetings or administrative tasks.

The less time teams spend in meetings, the more time they have to build products.

10. Promoting a Learning Culture

Management should encourage team members to continuously improve their skills and knowledge.

They can support people obtaining advanced certifications or degrees and provide resources for ongoing learning.

Management should also facilitate knowledge sharing across the organization so teams can learn from each other.

A learning culture leads to higher employee satisfaction, lower turnover, and a competitive skill set.

11. Providing Clear Product Requirements

While management should avoid being too prescriptive with Scrum teams, they still need to provide clear product requirements as guidance.

Requirements should define what the product needs to achieve but not prescribe exactly how it should be built.

Management needs to clarify any questions about the requirements and potentially re-negotiate them as conditions change.

Clear requirements lead to building the right product with minimum wasted effort.

12. Reviewing Key Metrics

Management should regularly review metrics and reports to determine whether Scrum initiatives are achieving the desired results.

They need visibility into things like velocity, burn-down rate, defect counts, customer satisfaction, cost, etc.

Metrics provide insights into what’s working well and where improvements may be needed.

Management should work with Scrum teams to course correct as needed based on the metrics being monitored.


The management role in Scrum requires giving up some level of control and embracing more facilitation and collaboration.

But management is still critical to providing vision, securing resources, hiring talent, training teams, removing roadblocks, and continuously improving.

They create the environment where Scrum teams can be most effective in building innovative products.

David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)
David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

David Usifo is a certified project manager professional, professional Scrum Master, and a BCS certified Business Analyst with a background in product development and database management.

He enjoys using his knowledge and skills to share with aspiring and experienced project managers and product developers the core concept of value-creation through adaptive solutions.

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