4 critical roles for agile success

Agile may provide the biggest competitive advantage companies can have in a digital age. Here are the crucial roles to fill when fielding your agile teams.

4 critical roles for agile success
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Agile development and delivery methodologies can help organizations improve product quality, accelerate time-to-market and increase customer satisfaction. In fact, making the switch to agile can provide a significant competitive advantage in the digital age.

But to make the switch, you’ll need the right skills and personnel. A successful agile team can be broken down loosely into three key roles. Within those loosely defined roles, members can take on varied responsibilities, depending on their expertise, all of which combine to deliver more innovative products faster and with greater quality and ROI.

Here are the three essential agile roles you’ll need to succeed, and each role’s associated salary.

Product owner

The person filling this role often represents the voice of the customer, and is responsible for prioritizing the backlog of tasks to be completed, documenting requirements and user stories and maximizing ROI for the project.

“This is the person making the business decision about the project, the solution — it’s often an executive or a higher-level business decision maker,” says Dave West, product owner at Scrum.org. “They’re responsible for delivering the overall value of the solution that the team is supposed to prioritize,” he says.  

Salaries for this role range from $55,000 to $118,000, with a median salary of $82,115, according to PayScale.

Scrum master

The Scrum master essential fulfills the role of a coach. He or she is responsible for facilitating the team’s work, procuring resources where needed, removing obstacles and guiding the team’s direction.

“Sometimes referred to as the agile coach, or just the manager — this is the ‘modern’ manager of an agile team,” says West. “They’re the enabler of the team, the one who’s guiding and leading the team members,” he says.

More than hard or technical skills, soft skills are extremely important in this role, including project management, communication, negotiation and decision making abilities. For more on the Scrum master role, see “What is a Scrum master? A key role for project success.”

Salaries for this role range from $59,000 to $122,000, with a median salary of $88,341, according to PayScale.

Team member

Team members fulfill the bulk of roles for an agile team. They are responsible for the project’s planning, design, development, creation, testing, debugging and delivery. Within this larger group, members might be referred to as developers, engineers, programmers, or QA professionals, for instance, West says.

“These are the people who are actually creating the solution; writing the code, testing it, making sure that everything works and is actually doing what it’s supposed to and delivering the promised value,” he says.

Salaries for these roles range from $37,000 to $101,000, with a median salary of $67,966, according to PayScale.


Some organizations’ agile teams will also have additional stakeholders involved, depending on the project or product being worked on. These other stakeholders could be users, managers of users, operations and support personnel, other agile teams with dependencies and cross-functional products or work, other executive team members, project managers, investors, and more.

In some cases, agile teams also enlist the help of technical or domain specialists to provide skills that aren’t available within the organization or within the agile team, as needed.

The small, flexible, nimble team structure allows organizations to adapt quickly, innovate and deliver higher-quality, customized products that are exactly to customers’ and users specifications. 

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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