4.Team Roles

NorthBridge Technology Alliance edited this page Aug 23, 2018 · 17 revisions

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A Coach helps the team stay on schedule and makes sure the team is equipped with the tools they need to get their work done. The Coach role is non-technical. This role takes about one hour per week.

Responsibilities include: scheduling and facilitating Sprint planning sessions; scheduling and facilitating team standups; addressing individual team member concerns; grooming the backlog together with the Product Owner; ensuring an efficient and enjoyable team atmosphere.

There is one Coach per team who can ideally make a commitment to their team for a significant period of time. A Coach may work with more than one team at a time. Should a Coach have time and interest, they may act as a "Coach of Coaches," making sure new Northbridge Coaches understand how we operate.


A Mentor holds accountability for making sure the team has the technical resources and knowledge required to achieve their goals.

A Mentor should hold the best interest and technical growth of their team as their primary agenda. A Mentor should act as a first level resource for technical questions on the team and will likely be a point of contact with other teams who may be working on interfacing features.

Responsibilities include: providing technical expertise to their team; understanding their team's contributions within the larger Northbridge context; helping contributors with skill development; ensuring an efficient and enjoyable team atmosphere.

In healthy teams, mentors and "tech leads" typically surface naturally. Northbridge formalizes this non-competitive role simply to make sure that every team has the resources they need to succeed. In our all-volunteer context, it would be too easy for teams, especially new ones, to flounder without some type of designated leadership. We strive to make sure every team has at least one person who knows the ropes and is willing to intentionally serve their team in this position of accountability. The role of a Mentor is not to be heavy-handed but helpful-handed, always upholding the fundamentally cooperative nature of agile that Northbridge values.

Should a Mentor have time and interest, they may work across teams with other Mentors to manage technical documentation or wikis. They may work interactively with Product Owners to suggest feature developments and enhancements.

There may be more than one Mentor on a team. A Mentor should be embedded with only one team at a time.

Product Owner

A Product Owner holds accountability for understanding the interests and needs of Northbridge partners and representing them in the form of prioritized feature development needs. We call this our "backlog."

A Product Owner is typically a Northbridge staff member and also a formal member of a Northbridge team. Zhe is responsible to articulate feature development needs in a way consistent with best agile backlog practices.

In more traditional development methodologies, the needs of the client and the needs of the development teams are often oppositional. At Northbridge it's different. We have the wonderful luxury of doing work that we love and for which our partners are grateful. As a formal team member, the Product Owner is as accountable as any other team member for the success of the team and should make sure the flow of information between parties is effective and rewarding in the end.

Responsibilities include: grooming the backlog, with interactive input by the Coach; providing project strategic expertise to their team; attending Sprint planning meetings and other delivery-focused ceremonies; ensuring an efficient and enjoyable team atmosphere.

There is one Product Owner per team. A Product Owner may work with more than one team at a time.

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