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Cross-functional team

Last post 05:57 pm September 24, 2018 by John Knoop
8 replies
09:53 pm January 6, 2018

Is it right to understand that cross-functionality and self-organization do not apply exclusively to the Development team but also to the Scrum Team as a whole (including Development team, PO and SM)?

The Scrum Guide indicates "The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional."

And then, "Development Teams have the following characteristics: • They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality; • Development Teams are cross-functional, with all the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment."

10:42 pm January 8, 2018

Is it right to understand that cross-functionality and self-organization do not apply exclusively to the Development team but also to the Scrum Team as a whole (including Development team, PO and SM)?

Yes, bearing in mind that they must do so without blurring Scrum roles, and that there is nothing to stop an SM and PO from also being Development Team members.

The principles of cross-functionality and self-organization also apply to groups of Scrum Teams working on the same product who need to manage and minimize their integration dependencies. Hence a Nexus may be seen as cross-functional and self-organizing, since it must produce an integrated and Done increment every Sprint.

06:00 pm January 9, 2018

Thank you very much for the clarification!

06:35 pm January 9, 2018

Yes, apply to both, with the exception that each Scrum role has a very specific set of responsibilities.  For instance, while the Scrum Team should self organize around refinement, the role/person who is responsible for ensuring that refinement gets done is the PO.  (Whether they do this work themselves or delegate it to the Dev Team, that's up to the PO, but the PO remains both accountable and responsible for it getting done)

11:11 am September 20, 2018

Hi all, I understand then that cross-functionality apply to all Scrum Roles. 

I've got this question from "Should the Development Team members be cross-functional?" to what I answered yes. But surprisingly the correct answer was no with the following explanation "The entire Development Team should be cross-functional, but not every member of the Dev Team (although it is not prohibited)".

I'm confused ... Can someone please clarify with maybe simple/concrete example?



05:41 am September 21, 2018

I think it is a fine nuance difference here.

It is important that the team as a whole is cross-functional, it should be able to complete the PBIs without dependencies on others.

This could be achieved by having a team of people, where each one of them might be a specialist in a certain domain (Testing, Implementation, etc.). Alternatively you could also have each of the people skilled in multiple domains being cross-functional as a single person.

One way or the other you would have a cross-functional team.

10:40 am September 21, 2018

Generally speaking, the term "cross functional" is applied to the team and the range of skills it needs in order to deliver a working, integrated increment. If an individual team member is trained to have more than one of those skills, then the term "cross skilled" might be used to describe that person. Unfortunately there's not much consistency in the use of  any of this vocabulary, so you have to judge things by context

01:28 pm September 21, 2018

Thank you guys. I understand better now. I think the term for a member should be cross skilled and for a team should be cross functional.

02:10 pm September 23, 2018


I think what you're hinting at is that Scrum (and agile in general) argues that the team will benefit from having "T-shaped" members. If the UI designer is away for the day, there may still be someone around who can make a screen look decent. This isn't the same thing as a cross-functional team, where the idea is to break down the functional silos in a company that drive lead-time and create hand-offs. Instead, a cross-functional team gathers people from all the required functions/disciplines to be able to collaborate on the same thing.

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