Contracts for Implementing Scrum

22 May 2006

Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, PMP
3Back, Scrum Management Consulting & Training

Doug Shimp
3Back, Scrum Management Consulting & Training

Introduction

Scrum provides the essential framework that an organization needs to create high-performing, rapidly-responding, product-producing software teams. It gives organizations the tools to develop a working product in the face of complex domains and shifting organizational needs. Successfully implementing Scrum, though, requires commitment both on the part of the Scrum team members and on the part of the organization. This has led us to create a list of promises, a “contract” if you will, that gives both teams and organizations a familiar framework for understanding what is necessary for Scrum to succeed and for communicating a sense of ownership by all parties involved.

Intent of the Contracts

These contracts are not meant to be recognized in any legal sense; rather, they are for raising awareness of what is required for a Scrum implementation to work. And remember, even with best intentions, promises are sometimes broken. What is important is that the parties involved commit to a good faith effort to recommit to the promises when this occurs, and to resolve issues whenever they arise.

There are two starting contracts, each containing unique promises. The first contract is between the organization and the Scrum team. The second contract is within the Scrum team and its various parts. Both contracts consist of promises that when kept will maximize the chances of achieving the full benefit of a Scrum implementation.

Scrum provides a working framework, not an “out-of-the-box” solution. Because each organization’s inherent complexities (both product and cultural) are unique, Scrum requires that the Scrum team conduct a periodic “inspect and adapt” analysis. The Scrum team incorporates the results of this analysis into its own processes and the organization incorporates the results into its deployment of Scrum. Therefore, as the organization learns what Scrum means to them, they should periodically reconsider any contracts for implementing Scrum and modify the contracts accordingly.

Parties and Definitions

For the purposes of this contract the following parties and terms are defined. The organization is the business or entity with administrative responsibilities and functional structures, intent on successful delivery of the product. Stakeholders are parties with an interest in the product being developed and/or the Scrum process. They might include suppliers, customers, the business owner, subject matter experts, or product support. The business owner is a key stakeholder who supplies resources for the project. The Scrum team members are also stakeholders, with an interest in the product, process, and project.

Scrum is an empirical development process framework for solving complex problems. Scrum defines three distinct roles that must work together as a Scrum team to produce a successful product. The product owner is responsible for understanding what stakeholders require, interpreting these requirements for the team, and providing clear prioritized direction. The team is composed of those people actively engaged in building the product. The team collectively and members individually are responsible for building the product according to the priorities and requirements provided by the product owner. The team is completely responsible for deciding how to achieve its goals and how to organize its work. Finally, the ScrumMaster is responsible for the health of the process, reporting the progress of the team, and removing impediments to progress.

Period of the Contract

Again relying on Scrum’s framework, we need an “inspect and adapt” analysis of the Scrum implementation. The Scrum team incorporates the results of this analysis into its own processes and the organization incorporates the results into its implementation of Scrum. Additional promises may be required as a result of this analysis.

Decide how often your organization will review and renew the contract:

This contract will be renewed each ____________ (specify period) by retrospection, facilitated by the ScrumMaster and product owner. If at any time the process is found to be inactive, a reimplementation of the contract and the process will be required. Reimplementation is the responsibility of the organization.

Contract between the Organization and the Team

The team promises the stakeholders that there is a product owner on the team driving the team based on stakeholders interests.

The organization promises the team that there are stakeholders (including subject matter experts) who will help when needed.

The team promises to use the stakeholders’ time wisely, by focusing on questions that are relevant to the work being done now.

The organization promises that they will help the ScrumMaster in the removal of impediments to the Scrum team’s progress.

The team promises that they will do quality work the best way they know how within the constraints set forth by the organization.

The organization promises the team that they will not change priorities or constraints in the middle of a sprint without team’s consent.

The team promises to deliver demonstrable product at the end of every sprint for review and validation by the stakeholders.

The organization promises that being on a Scrum team will not hurt the members’ careers.

Signed on this date:______________________

For the organization

Key stakeholders representatives

x___________________________

x___________________________

x___________________________

x___________________________

x___________________________

For the Scrum team

ScrumMaster

x___________________________

Product owner

x___________________________

Download a PDF of this contract.

Contract between Members of the Scrum Team

The product owner promises the team to he/she will supply an initial product backlog.

The product owner promises the team that he/she will prioritize the product backlog when needed.

The ScrumMaster promises to keep the team healthy by focusing on the removal of impediments, both internal and external.

The product owner promises that an empowered “voice of the customer” will be provided to answer business domain questions promptly (minutes or hours, not days).

The team promises that its work will be transparent, that it will make decisions and solve problems as a group, and that no individual team member will be left behind.

Each member of the team promises that they will bring issues, problems, impediments and realities encountered to the team.

Signed on this date:______________________

For the Scrum team

ScrumMaster

x___________________________

Product owner

x___________________________

Team members

x___________________________

x___________________________

x___________________________

Download a PDF of this contract.

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Comments

Anonymous, 1/24/2007 10:37:33 PM
This is really useful for people interested in implementing scrum.
Christopher Cobb, CSM, 2/13/2009 8:01:06 AM
``The team promises the stakeholders that there is a product owner on the team driving the team based on stakeholders interests.'' In our case, the Team is powerless to acquire or benefit from a Product Owner. We often go for long stretches without access to a Product Owner. It seems to me that the promise should be that the business owner/organization will provide a dedicated Product Owner to the Team, who will be available to the Team on a daily basis, and who will especially ensure that the Backlog is fully prioritized in advance of the Planning Meeting.
Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, PMP, CST,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 6/29/2009 6:09:07 PM
Interesting point, Christopher, but I think you've got it wrong. In this contract the organization promises to provide help when needed. You need to nominate a member of your team to be the Product Owner, and then that person's job is to go out and get the help the team needs from the organization. It is probable that you already have a Product Owner (perhaps your team lead) who just doesn't understand his/her job.

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