How to Align Your Team with the Scrum Model

[article]
Summary:

A successful Scrum implementation requires proper understanding of Scrum processes within team and within all project stakeholders. Even after proper training and certification (CSM/CSPO) it’s really tough to achieve the success as intended. There is one common and important problem which has always been overlooked: the alignment of current team with Scrum the model. Because, vanilla-Scrum only describe what the role does in the process.

A successful Scrum implementation requires proper understanding of Scrum processes within team and within all project stakeholders. Even after proper training and certification (CSM/CSPO) it’s really tough to achieve the success as intended. There is one common and important problem which has always been overlooked: the alignment of current team with Scrum the model. Because, vanilla-Scrum only describe what the role does in the process.

The Scrum consists of mainly three key roles: Product Owner, ScrumMaster and Scrum Team. However in general a typical team structure contains – Developers, Team/Tech Lead, Testers, Test Lead, Project Manager, Technical architect, Project Sponsor, Project Director, Quality Manager, etc. This list may vary depending upon projects and organizations. Consequently, it becomes essential to align the existing team with Scrum model.

Practically, it’s really tough to find out and assign the correct role to existing resource within team. As far as Scrum model is concerned, it describes only what a product owner, scrummaster and scrum team should do, but it does not say anything on who specifically from traditional world should play this role. So, most sensible question now is how to match so many roles among only three available roles effectively. 

Align resource to Product Owner
A product owner is responsible to provide the requirement and prioritize them as per the need. This role suits to the person who remains in touch with the end-user/client to understand his need. He is responsible for understanding and communicating the client’s need.

The potential candidates for this role are Product Manager, Project Manager, Business analyst and project sponsors. Let’s analyze each of these roles and different scenarios when these can best fit for the product owner role.

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Project sponsors or Customer as Product Owner
A project sponsors or customer could be used in prioritizing the requirements. However it’s not usual to get someone from client or sponsors side as product owner. Rarely, this role is played by any customer. Otherwise it is played by the proxy customer or internal customer.

“In some cases, the Product Owner and the customer are the same person; in other cases, the customer might actually be millions of different people with a variety of needs.”

The project sponsor or customer needs to be trained on Scrum and also need a clear understanding of Scrum practices and its benefit. Usually one can not expect all this from the customer. On the whole, it’s not easy to align the project sponsor or customer for Product Owner role.

Product Manager as Product Owner
Another good candidate for this role is product manager. At high level both Product Manager and Product Owner looks as same.

The product manager governs below responsibilities:

  • Define product strategy and roadmap
  • Work closely with customer
  • Ensure meeting of revenue and customer satisfaction goals
  • Market research (Competitive and Pricing analysis)

In addition to above tasks, a product owner drives the priorities for the development team. Even though responsibilities of Product manager and Product owner overlap a lot, one thing is clear that both of them are not same.

In case product manager is available then he is most suitable candidate for this role in Scrum model.

Business Analyst as Product Owner
Business analyst is another suitable candidate for Product Owner role. The main difference between Product Managers and BAs is outward vs. inward facing. BAs look inside the company, processes and practices inside a single company and how these can be improved through the use of software technology. In contrast Product Managers are outward facing i.e. they look at the market and at multiple independent customers.

A Product Owner should normally be a

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About the author

Vinay Krishna's picture Vinay Krishna

Vinay Krishna is having 12 years of experience in software development and currently working as a Software Development Manager at Cegedim Software India Pvt Ltd, Bangalore. He helps team to adopt agile-scrum-lean in his organization. He is doing research in the field of Software architecture. So far his 10+ papers have been published in various international journals and conference proceedings and two papers are translated in Chinese language by scrum network at China. Vinay is also managing Agile Bangalore user group. He is a Management Committee member of Computer Society of India (CSI), Bangalore Chapter for 2012-2013 and Exhibition Chair at Advances in Cloud Computing (ACC-2012), international conference held at Bangalore on July, 26-28 2012. He is also Volunteer speaker at CSI. He has given many tech talk/guest lectures in Agile, XP, Scrum, Lean, OOAD and Software Architecture at prestigious engineering colleges/universities and different organizations.

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