Tuesday, 07 May 2013 04:04

Is there a “Place” for Business Analysts & Project Managers in Agile Teams?

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And if they belong there, what do they do? To be honest, I don’t exactly know.

It’s sort of the same question for other more ‘specialized’ roles like architects and operations engineers. They all don’t fit.

If I use Scrum roles as an example, there are ONLY three primary roles :

  1. The Development Team
  2. The Product Owner
  3. The Scrum Master

That’s it. It’s simple and clear. There are no business analysts or project managers or testers or developers for that matter. There is only a team of individual skills that are tasked with executing a list of work—a Product Backlog.

They are asked to work together—producing “working code” in increments.

The team is self-directing; self-managing, and self-organizing. That implies that it’s pretty much up to the team to figure things out. Sure you can have managers hovering around the team and providing leadership, support and occasional guidance. But the best agile teams are pretty much left alone to deliver.

There is also the notion of generalization over specialization; in that you want the team to be as generalist as possible. For example, developers can design, write use cases or user stories, test, and deliver their functional contributions. So the broader each team member views their skill and responsibilities, the better. No hard silos allowed!

Call for Feedback

So, rather than my trying articulate whether they should or shouldn’t be in agile teams, I’m looking for reader feedback to generate discussion.

  1. Do Business Analysts and Project Manager(s) have a place within Agile teams?
  2. And if they do, what do they do? Seriously, what do they focus on?
  3. How do they collaborate as part of the team? What are their primary roles? And contributions?
  4. If they re-frame from “old role” to “new role”; what changes need to be made?

My sense?

My personal sense in both cases is that, yes, there is a place for Business Analysts and Project Managers within agile teams. Not leveraging their skills as they traditionally have, but more so transforming themselves to contribute within the context of an agile team. I would also argue that there are wider opportunities within agile teams to contribute.

But that’s just my perspective. What’s yours?

Thanks for listening,
Bob.

Don't forget to leave your comments below.

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Robert Galen

Robert 'Bob' Galen is the President and Principal Consultant of RGCG, L.L.C. a Cary, NC based agile methods coaching & training consultancy. He is a deeply experienced agile coach who is active in the agile community and regularly writes & teaches on all topics related to the agile methods. Bob wrote the book Scrum Product Ownership, which is focused on that role and driving value in team delivery. Bob can be reached at bob@rgalen.com and networked with via his LinkedIn profile.

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