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Scrum: Role of the managers in the department after introduction of Scrum

Before a team changes over to using Scrum as their development methodology, the role of the managers tend to be critical. They are typically busy the whole time (even though the team would joke about the manager pushing the team hard and relaxing themselves); this gets to be very critical when the schedule is under stress and there are doubts about whether the team will be able to finish the project by the due date. The managers are the ones who drive the team, measure progress, run the schedule and the typical MS Project chart that tracks progress of various activities.
Now the team moves over to use Scrum as their development model ? What is the change ? Well, in Scrum the expectation is that there is no manager driving the project or the execution of the project tasks, the team is the one responsible for ensuring that the tasks are planned for every Sprint, they are estimated, and the development of these tasks are done. So, one of the most important questions comes up from time to time – what is the role for managers with a team using the Sprint development model ? Are they done and you can fire all of them (I really had one team member piping up with such a comment, and the reaction from the managers who were there in the meeting did not bode well for him) ? Well, this is not really true. There is still a lot that a manager can do for such teams, as long as they are willing to adjust and change. However, if the manager moans and groans and goes into a phase where they are not sure what to do, it may seem natural (and I am doing some amount of exaggeration here), but it is more beneficial if the manager changes track.
– One of the best examples I got was from the senior manager of such a team which had started moving to using Scrum. He defined his role as being more of a coach, both in terms of being a coach for Scrum and for the various times when the team was running into some kind of technical or morale issues and needed help of some kind.
– When the team reports that they are running into some kind of logistical issue or are dependent on support from another team, he helps guide the team in the best way to respond to such problems and issues, and how to get them the support that they need.
– The manager also talked a lot with other teams to work out the kind of metrics and other reports that would help them in getting their work done more effectively, and would have discussions with the team members; suggesting such reports (but not trying to force them to use such reports – although since he was their manager, it took some amount of discussion and reasoning to ensure that they did their own decision making and not followed what he said blindly).
– One of the most important mechanisms was about ensuring that the manager did not try to use the Daily Scrum meeting as a way of determining the status from all the team members. To that end, he would not attend each and every Daily Scrum, ensuring that people got the message that he was not driving their status discussions.
– Most of all, the manager needs to realize that there is quite a change happening for everyone of the team, and it is part of his responsibility to ensure that the change goes through smoothly for every one.

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