Scrum Rules: As a Team Member I Can Quickly Describe My Product's High-Level Architecture

July 20, 2020
3 minute read

All Scrum Team Members, including the Scrum Master and Product Owner, should understand the high-level technical aspects of the product that is being built (often described as the architecture of the product). As well, that understanding should be solid enough, that it can be communicated to other people.

This understanding helps the team members in many situations dealing with each other and with stakeholders. Understanding the structure of the system is an aspect of Transparency. This is essential for maintaining overall quality of the product. Development in one part of the product or system should never cause problems for any other part of the product or system. If team members do not know their product in this way, it can cause significant problems in communication and in how Product Backlog Items are implemented.

The simplest approach to gaining this knowledge is through recognizing its importance in the Sprint Retrospective and having a regular team discussion about the technical aspects of the system. Each member of the Scrum team will have different needs to understand the architecture. Open discussion will therefore include explaining concepts in simple ways, avoiding the use of technical jargon and acronyms, and having technical folks be open to answering questions. A simple one or two-page diagram may also be helpful. This could be drawn up on a whiteboard with boxes, circles and arrows, or it could be a bit more formal using a diagramming approach such as the Unified Modelling Language. Whatever diagramming approach is taken, the actual diagram should never be considered formal documentation. Instead, it should be like a napkin map sketch that just gives directions in the most informal way possible. When team members have achieved a basic level of shared understanding about the product’s architecture, then they need to practice explaining it to others. This practice can be done as role-playing.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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