Managing Internal and External Stakeholders in a Scrum Project

June 30, 2016

Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies. It is an adaptive, iterative, fast, flexible, and effective methodology designed to deliver significant value quickly and throughout a project. A key strength of Scrum lies in its use of cross-functional, self-organized, and empowered teams who divide their work into short, concentrated work cycles called Sprints. The Scrum cycle begins with a Stakeholder Meeting, during which the Project Vision is created. The Product Owner then develops a Prioritized Product Backlog which contains a prioritized list of business and project requirements written in the form of User Stories. Each Sprint begins with a Sprint Planning Meeting during which high priority User Stories are considered for inclusion in the Sprint, during which the user stories are developed into deliverables or outputs.

As we have seen that Scrum is not your regular waterfall technique but an agile framework which changes traditional roles. The Organizational Resource Matrix is a hierarchical depiction of a combination of a functional organizational structure and a projectized organizational structure. Matrix organizations bring together team members for a project from different functional departments such as information technology, finance, marketing, sales, manufacturing, and other departments – and create cross-functional teams. Mangers, developers, and testers will be assigned the roles of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Development Team (Scrum Team).

The Skills Requirement Matrix, also known as a competency framework, is used to assess skill gaps and training requirements for team members. Team members may not always possess the required knowledge or skills to work in the Scrum environment. The Product Owner should evaluate the training needs of potential team members and facilitate training to bridge any knowledge gaps in the team. The Product Owner is normally responsible for evaluating and selecting team members, but often does this in consultation with the Scrum Master who may have additional knowledge of the resources from working with them on other projects.

Apart from the Scrum Team, the Product Owner also needs to be trained well.  The Product Owner is the bridge between requirements and development. The more he/she is able to understand the requirements the better product development will be. Product Owners should be provided with specific training on their roles and responsibilities, and how to handle various unforeseen situations and change requests. Product owners must be trained on effective communication techniques and requirements elicitation tools. With the help of these he/she can function better and will be able to articulate the needs of the customer/client well.

The Product Owner represents the interests of the stakeholder community to the Scrum Team and is the person responsible for maximizing business value for the project. He or she is responsible for articulating customer requirements and maintaining business justification for the project. The Product Owner, thus, ensures clear communication of product or service functionality requirements to the Scrum Team, defining Acceptance Criteria, and ensuring those criteria are met. In other words, the Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team delivers value. The Product Owner must always maintain a dual view.

The Product Owner must understand and support the needs and interests of all stakeholders, while also understanding the needs and workings of the Scrum Team. Because the Product Owner must understand the needs and priorities of the stakeholders, including customers and users, this role is commonly referred to as the Voice of the Customer. Corresponding to a Product Owner role in a project, there could be a Program Product Owner for a program or a Portfolio Product Owner for a portfolio.


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