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Different Types of Product Teams

The product team is accountable for implementing different strategies for developing the roadmap and defining product features. The team would choose what to build, promote and what is new, and measure accomplishments of organizational roles within the company. A product team is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, marketing, user experience, and analytics.The digitalization of businesses has had companies create more and more applications for their end-users and domestic needs. AI-powered chatbots are now replacing humans when it comes to addressing customer grievances. Many non-tech companies have started outsourcing their work to integral engineering teams with dedicated product owners, product managers, and business analysts, who deliver the product with full responsibility.The company requires a global visionary who can drive the team in the correct direction for product development. The rest depends on the shoulders of the outsourcing team. Startups and large companies benefit from having dedicated development teams.WHAT IS A PRODUCT TEAM?A product team structure is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may be provided with assignments for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. Individual product teamThe product team typically combines multiple roles throughout the organization, all of which have an impact on the product and strategic roadmap. This group includes individuals from engineering/development, sales, support, operations, and marketing; all of whom are led by a product manager. Organizational team structureThe product development team includes product managers, associate product managers, research analysts, and business analysts. All organizations are set up a bit differently and this team can also include technical PMs, UX team members, product marketers as well as other roles. Below are the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization:Functional Areas   Product management Responsibilities of management Set the product perception and approach Organize and deliver releases Assemble and curate unique ideas Create new product features Roles in management Product Director  Product manager Owner of the product Associate product manager Functional Areas  User design experience (UX) Responsibilities of UX User research Create user stories Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes Usability testing UX Roles Director UX product manager UX senior designer Designer UX  Functional Areas  Product AnalyticsResponsibilities in Analytics Data sources Integration  Market trends research User journeys User behavior and pain points Analytics Roles Director Manager Analytics Product senior analyst Business analystTHE PRODUCT CORE TEAMThe Core Product team is the one that builds and maintains the key features of the product that has been developed. For e.g., Key features of the Zoho (Project Management tool) are built and maintained by the core team, and this is the reason for its seamless and flawless management of different projects and teams. The better a product is built with outstanding features, the more it gets adopted by users and the more business value it generates.  The Core Product team is also responsible for solving customer problems and helping customers with their issues.  To achieve this, the team focuses on a range of activities as below: Distinguishing unmet needs, underserved audiences, or inadequately solved problems. Implementing solutions that adhere to the expectations of the customers; considering factors such as viability, feasibility, usability, and value. Giving solutions that are robust, fault-tolerant, and maintainable Operating, maintaining, and improving these solutions. THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CORE PRODUCT MANAGERA product manager combines a business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements in order to develop a product that is suitable, feasible, and valuable. PMs are focused on optimizing a product to accomplish the business goals and user necessities while maximizing return on investment. The product manager contrives all of the white space around the product. The product manager tackles everything that falls outside of the bounds of any of the three (business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements) core groups. An API product manager and other product managers would have different customers. That means that the product manager needs to be much better at technical skills. As another example, a consumer product manager might be assisting millions of customers, and therefore needs to be extremely quantitative. A B2B product manager would serve a dozen total customers, and therefore needs to be highly skilled at change management, negotiations, and objection approach. Within the same company, we can see a diversity of product managers, because each product manager is managing fundamentally different problems as they are working with different kinds of customers, business stakeholders, and development teams. THE PLATFORM PRODUCT TEAMThe product platform team is responsible for developing the tools and building blocks that allow product developers to formulate relevant features instantly. Product Platform team builds and maintains the frameworks that encapsulate resolutions to regular problems.  Tools built by the platform team speed up iteration and debugging; for example, a tool allowing developers to spin up a fake sandbox instance in order to test new features. The product platform team cooperates with product developers in order to ensure that we are giving the best support. This includes: Giving out questionnaires to identify general improvement pain points and untapped potential for amendments to frameworks and tooling Product platform provides valuable suggestions and thoughts to the team which helps them work efficiently and seamlessly. As we progress, keeping stakeholders associated with regular meetings and updates in order to make sure we’re formulating the right thing. Product platform engineers often have some of the following specialized skills: Ability to complete large-scale codebase migrations. Provide expertise to establish appropriate ideas for the use cases. Efficiently managing the project and satisfying the demands of stakeholders with assorted interests.PLATFORM PRODUCT MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIESA product manager outlines consumer needs and business goals and translates them into viable, innovative products. They compose and execute the necessary steps to move new products through each stage of development i.e. from inception to product launch. Developing roadmaps to drive products, authorizing and communicating product requirements, supervising usability testing and prototype development, prioritizing features, writing improvements, and determining and tracking metrics are daily activities of the platform manager. The product platform manager is bound to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables; formulating user stories, packaging and promoting, expediting cross-functional teams, and directing market research and competitive analysis. Platform managers working in a computer company focus on improving the overall performance of computer systems, while other platform managers focus on improving platforms upon which computer programs will run. All of these improvements should be done within budget and customer needs. At Yahoo!, the platform manager acts as an alliance between the platform development team and its customers. These managers are accountable for answering customer questions and also explaining customer concerns to the project development team. THE GROWTH TEAM’S GROWTHThe growth product manager ideally operates with a dedicated, cross-functional team, often referred to as a seed, of engineering, analyst, and design resources, joined with additional non-dedicated resources from teams directly impacted by the goal at hand. For example, if the purpose is to improve sales of Product A, the core product manager of that product will be involved in different activities such as implementing user friendly features, digital marketing etc. ‍In limited developed organizations, the growth PM may only have access to a dedicated, full-stack engineer or may have no committed resources at all. In this situation, the growth PM must establish a firm business case to gain access to a number of non-dedicated, cross-functional resources to support. Here are a few tips, if you are building a growth team:Discover Problem - Find a unique problem that could help drive growth. Typically, this is an abandoned area at the company. Product manager should not try to own all of the growth as this will demotivate the team. Development and no retaliation - Appreciate the culture and principles that made the company flourish. Develop these principles and don't re-write them. Failure - Explore quick wins but expect that the team could fail early and often. Give them enough opportunity to finish the task. Communicate and celebrate the success - Use success as a carrot and display how to approach problems.RESPONSIBILITIES OF GROWTH PRODUCT MANAGERGrowth product managers help to reduce obstacles that arise during the development of the product, which intimates that they enable customers and users to promptly find gain within the core product. In other words, growth product managers would be more fruitful when there is already an existing product that hasn’t yet been matured enough for its growth. Lots of organizations would ideally engage core product managers first and then would hire growth product managers as core product managers would facilitate new use cases in the product. The difference can be noticed between core product managers and growth product managers. Core product managers open new superpowers. Growth product managers expedite the pace at which users gain superpowers. Following are the key responsibilities of a growth product manager. Growth product managers are all about eliminating disagreement. Growth product managers instead of owning a specific set of product functionality are highly focused on metrics. Growth product managers are given specific direction to operate across many diverse product functionalities to optimize important metrics. They will be more focused on how to drive more value from existing products. Describing at a high level, growth product managers need to be both obsessively quantitative and creatively qualitative. SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER The product owner is a position on a product development team accountable for maintaining the product backlog in order to accomplish the desired consequence that a product development team attempts to achieve.   Important activities to accomplish in this role include: Clearly recognize and determine product backlog items in order to build a shared understanding of the problem and resolution with the product development team Advance decisions concerning priority of product backlog items in order to deliver maximum outcome with minimum output Discover whether a product backlog item was adequately addressed Guarantee transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team. The product owner role was designed as part of the Scrum framework in line to address hurdles that the product development teams had with various, conflicting direction, or no direction at all with respect to what to develop. Many assume that a product owner is someone who can spend a considerable amount of time with the product development team giving clarification on product backlog items and making decisions about which product backlog items to do. The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those desiring to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner. For the Product Owner to succeed, the whole organization must appreciate his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s conclusions are evident in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one can force the Development Team to operate from a different set of requirements. FEATURE OWNER AND COMPONENT OWNER A feature owner, in reverse, is focused on one or more specific and individual features. The feature owner’s liability is to guarantee that the features function well, for instance, that the drop-off amount of the checkout feature is low. On the other hand, a component owner takes care of one or more segments, such as, the user interface or data access layer. This person makes sure that the architectural component works as anticipated. To do so, the person needs to possess relevant and suitable technical skills.  The picture below illustrates the three different owner roles.Using feature and component owners is a scaling technique. It benefits to grow a product by dividing the product responsibilities. A familiar approach is to have one overall product owner who accomplishes the entire product and several feature and component owners who look after its different elements.PLATFORM OWNERSoftware platform is a collection of digital assets that are used by different products, and a platform owner maintains such a platform. The individual is accountable for maximizing the value of the platform, for example, reducing the time of launching of product to market that are developed and on top of it reducing development cost. A platform owner is similar to a product owner and should have in-depth technological expertise that they would need in order to communicate with the users of the product. The users may be development team members who build products that use that platform. When a platform matures, it may be necessary to share product ownership and propose new features. SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER The agile scaling framework SAFe handles its own product owner role, the SAFe product owner. Despite the similarity of the name, the role significantly deviates from the Scrum product owner. While the Scrum product owner owns a product in its totality, a SAFe product owner looks after the product features, describes user stories, operates on a subset of the product backlog, and communicates with one or more development teams.  The SAFe product owner is focused on the product tactics. The strategic product responsibilities are taken on by another role, the SAFe product manager.  The SAFe model divides the product ownership into two distinct roles:  SAFe product manager owns the strategic product decisions SAFe product owner is in charge of the tactics.  This is in contrast to the Scrum product owner who operates full-stack product ownership, from vision to the tactics, as the following picture shows.   PORTFOLIO OWNER A portfolio owner handles a group of products, and the role is also known as product portfolio manager. Example of a product portfolio is the owner who handles ecommerce, healthcare and publication products/services under one full portfolio. The job of a portfolio owner is to maximize the value that a product portfolio creates. This includes actively accomplishing the portfolio, cooperating with the product owners who look after the products within the portfolio, tuning with the individual product strategies and product roadmaps, aligning major releases, accomplishing dependencies, and creating and improving a common user experience across the various products.  The individual who has solid product management experience and skills and has successfully managed individual products would fit into this role. For a smaller product portfolio, the head of product would take on this role without any hiccups else a dedicated full-time portfolio owner will be expected. CONCLUSIONProduct teams require sound structure and well-defined roles. it starts with a clear strategy that describes what needs to be achieved. A clear product concept, vision and strategy helps teams to cooperate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured. Many product teams rely on purpose-built software to determine and define strategies, manage ideas, formulate visual roadmaps, and examine results in a centralized location. 

Different Types of Product Teams

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Different Types of Product Teams

The product team is accountable for implementing different strategies for developing the roadmap and defining product features. The team would choose what to build, promote and what is new, and measure accomplishments of organizational roles within the company. A product team is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, marketing, user experience, and analytics.

The digitalization of businesses has had companies create more and more applications for their end-users and domestic needs. AI-powered chatbots are now replacing humans when it comes to addressing customer grievances. Many non-tech companies have started outsourcing their work to integral engineering teams with dedicated product owners, product managers, and business analysts, who deliver the product with full responsibility.

The company requires a global visionary who can drive the team in the correct direction for product development. The rest depends on the shoulders of the outsourcing team. Startups and large companies benefit from having dedicated development teams.

WHAT IS A PRODUCT TEAM?

A product team structure is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may be provided with assignments for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. 

Individual product team

The product team typically combines multiple roles throughout the organization, all of which have an impact on the product and strategic roadmap. This group includes individuals from engineering/development, sales, support, operations, and marketing; all of whom are led by a product manager. 

Organizational team structure

The product development team includes product managers, associate product managers, research analysts, and business analysts. All organizations are set up a bit differently and this team can also include technical PMs, UX team members, product marketers as well as other roles. 

Below are the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization:

Functional Areas   

  • Product management 

Responsibilities of management 

  • Set the product perception and approach 
  • Organize and deliver releases 
  • Assemble and curate unique ideas 
  • Create new product features 

Roles in management 

  • Product Director  
  • Product manager 
  • Owner of the product 
  • Associate product manager 

Functional Areas  

  • User design experience (UX) 

Responsibilities of UX 

  • User research 
  • Create user stories 
  • Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes 
  • Usability testing 

UX Roles 

  • Director 
  • UX product manager 
  • UX senior designer 
  • Designer UX  

Functional Areas  

  • Product Analytics

Responsibilities in Analytics 

  • Data sources Integration  
  • Market trends research 
  • User journeys 
  • User behavior and pain points 

Analytics Roles 

  • Director 
  • Manager Analytics 
  • Product senior analyst 
  • Business analyst

THE PRODUCT CORE TEAMTHE PRODUCT CORE TEAM

The Core Product team is the one that builds and maintains the key features of the product that has been developed. For e.g., Key features of the Zoho (Project Management tool) are built and maintained by the core team, and this is the reason for its seamless and flawless management of different projects and teams. The better a product is built with outstanding features, the more it gets adopted by users and the more business value it generates.  

The Core Product team is also responsible for solving customer problems and helping customers with their issues.  To achieve this, the team focuses on a range of activities as below: 

  1. Distinguishing unmet needs, underserved audiences, or inadequately solved problems. 
  2. Implementing solutions that adhere to the expectations of the customers; considering factors such as viability, feasibility, usability, and value. 
  3. Giving solutions that are robust, fault-tolerant, and maintainable 
  4. Operating, maintaining, and improving these solutions. 

THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CORE PRODUCT MANAGER

A product manager combines a business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements in order to develop a product that is suitable, feasible, and valuable. PMs are focused on optimizing a product to accomplish the business goals and user necessities while maximizing return on investment. 

The product manager contrives all of the white space around the product. The product manager tackles everything that falls outside of the bounds of any of the three (business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements) core groups. 

An API product manager and other product managers would have different customers. That means that the product manager needs to be much better at technical skills. 

As another example, a consumer product manager might be assisting millions of customers, and therefore needs to be extremely quantitative. A B2B product manager would serve a dozen total customers, and therefore needs to be highly skilled at change management, negotiations, and objection approach. 

Within the same company, we can see a diversity of product managers, because each product manager is managing fundamentally different problems as they are working with different kinds of customers, business stakeholders, and development teams. 

THE PLATFORM PRODUCT TEAM

The product platform team is responsible for developing the tools and building blocks that allow product developers to formulate relevant features instantly. 

  1. Product Platform team builds and maintains the frameworks that encapsulate resolutions to regular problems.  
  2. Tools built by the platform team speed up iteration and debugging; for example, a tool allowing developers to spin up a fake sandbox instance in order to test new features. 

The product platform team cooperates with product developers in order to ensure that we are giving the best support. This includes: 

  1. Giving out questionnaires to identify general improvement pain points and untapped potential for amendments to frameworks and tooling 
  2. Product platform provides valuable suggestions and thoughts to the team which helps them work efficiently and seamlessly. 
  3. As we progress, keeping stakeholders associated with regular meetings and updates in order to make sure we’re formulating the right thing. 

Product platform engineers often have some of the following specialized skills: 

  1. Ability to complete large-scale codebase migrations. 
  2. Provide expertise to establish appropriate ideas for the use cases. 
  3. Efficiently managing the project and satisfying the demands of stakeholders with assorted interests.

PLATFORM PRODUCT MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES

A product manager outlines consumer needs and business goals and translates them into viable, innovative products. They compose and execute the necessary steps to move new products through each stage of development i.e. from inception to product launch. 

Developing roadmaps to drive products, authorizing and communicating product requirements, supervising usability testing and prototype development, prioritizing features, writing improvements, and determining and tracking metrics are daily activities of the platform manager. The product platform manager is bound to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables; formulating user stories, packaging and promoting, expediting cross-functional teams, and directing market research and competitive analysis. 

Platform managers working in a computer company focus on improving the overall performance of computer systems, while other platform managers focus on improving platforms upon which computer programs will run. All of these improvements should be done within budget and customer needs. At Yahoo!, the platform manager acts as an alliance between the platform development team and its customers. These managers are accountable for answering customer questions and also explaining customer concerns to the project development team. 

THE GROWTH TEAM’S GROWTH

The growth product manager ideally operates with a dedicated, cross-functional team, often referred to as a seed, of engineering, analyst, and design resources, joined with additional non-dedicated resources from teams directly impacted by the goal at hand. For example, if the purpose is to improve sales of Product A, the core product manager of that product will be involved in different activities such as implementing user friendly features, digital marketing etc. 

In limited developed organizations, the growth PM may only have access to a dedicated, full-stack engineer or may have no committed resources at all. In this situation, the growth PM must establish a firm business case to gain access to a number of non-dedicated, cross-functional resources to support. 

Here are a few tips, if you are building a growth team:

  1. Discover Problem - Find a unique problem that could help drive growth. Typically, this is an abandoned area at the company. Product manager should not try to own all of the growth as this will demotivate the team. 
  2. Development and no retaliation - Appreciate the culture and principles that made the company flourish. Develop these principles and don't re-write them. 
  3. Failure - Explore quick wins but expect that the team could fail early and often. Give them enough opportunity to finish the task. 
  4. Communicate and celebrate the success - Use success as carrot and display how to approach problems.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF GROWTH PRODUCT MANAGER

Growth product managers help to reduce obstacles that arise during the development of the product, which intimates that they enable customers and users to promptly find gain within the core product. In other words, growth product managers would be more fruitful when there is already an existing product that hasn’t yet been matured enough for its growth. Lots of organizations would ideally engage core product managers first and then would hire growth product managers as core product managers would facilitate new use cases in the product. 

The difference can be noticed between core product managers and growth product managers. 

  1. Core product managers open new superpowers. 
  2. Growth product managers expedite the pace at which users gain superpowers. 

Following are the key responsibilities of a growth product manager. 

  1. Growth product managers are all about eliminating disagreement. Growth product managers instead of owning a specific set of product functionality are highly focused on metrics. 
  2. Growth product managers are given specific direction to operate across many diverse product functionalities to optimize important metrics. They will be more focused on how to drive more value from existing products. 

Describing at a high level, growth product managers need to be both obsessively quantitative and creatively qualitative. 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER

The product owner is a position on a product development team accountable for maintaining the product backlog in order to accomplish the desired consequence that a product development team attempts to achieve.   

Important activities to accomplish in this role include: 

  1. Clearly recognize and determine product backlog items in order to build a shared understanding of the problem and resolution with the product development team 
  2. Advance decisions concerning priority of product backlog items in order to deliver maximum outcome with minimum output 
  3. Discover whether a product backlog item was adequately addressed 
  4. Guarantee transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team. 

The product owner role was designed as part of the Scrum framework in line to address hurdles that the product development teams had with various, conflicting direction, or no direction at all with respect to what to develop. 

Many assume that a product owner is someone who can spend a considerable amount of time with the product development team giving clarification on product backlog items and making decisions about which product backlog items to do. 

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. 

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those desiring to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner. 

For the Product Owner to succeed, the whole organization must appreciate his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s conclusions are evident in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one can force the Development Team to operate from a different set of requirements. 

FEATURE OWNER AND COMPONENT OWNER 

A feature owner, in reverse, is focused on one or more specific and individual features. The feature owner’s liability is to guarantee that the features function well, for instance, that the drop-off amount of the checkout feature is low. On the other hand, a component owner takes care of one or more segments, such as, the user interface or data access layer. This person makes sure that the architectural component works as anticipated. To do so, the person needs to possess relevant and suitable technical skills.  

The picture below illustrates the three different owner roles.

Using feature and component owners is a scaling technique. It benefits to grow product by dividing the product responsibilities. A familiar approach is to have one overall product owner who accomplishes the entire product and several feature and component owners who look after its different elements.

PLATFORM OWNER

Software platform is a collection of digital assets that are used by different products, and a platform owner maintains such a platform. The individual is accountable for maximizing the value of the platform, for example, reducing the time of launching of product to market that are developed and on top of it reducing development cost. A platform owner is similar to a product owner and should have in-depth technological expertise that they would need in order to communicate with the users of the productThe users may be development team members who build products that use that platform. When a platform matures, it may be necessary to share product ownership and propose new features. 

SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER 

The agile scaling framework SAFe handles its own product owner role, the SAFe product owner. Despite the similarity of the name, the role significantly deviates from the Scrum product owner. While the Scrum product owner owns a product in its totality, a SAFe product owner looks after the product features, describes user stories, operates on a subset of the product backlog, and communicates with one or more development teams.  

The SAFe product owner is focused on the product tactics. The strategic product responsibilities are taken on by another role, the SAFe product manager.  

The SAFe model divides the product ownership into two distinct roles:  

  1. SAFe product manager owns the strategic product decisions 
  2. SAFe product owner is in charge of the tactics.  

This is in contrast to the Scrum product owner who operates full-stack product ownership, from vision to the tactics, as the following picture shows.  

 SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER

PORTFOLIO OWNER 

A portfolio owner handles a group of products, and the role is also known as product portfolio manager. Example of a product portfolio is the owner who handles ecommerce, healthcare and publication products/services under one full portfolio. 

The job of a portfolio owner is to maximize the value that a product portfolio creates. This includes actively accomplishing the portfolio, cooperating with the product owners who look after the products within the portfolio, tuning with the individual product strategies and product roadmaps, aligning major releases, accomplishing dependencies, and creating and improving common user experience across the various products.  

The individual who has solid product management experience and skills and has successfully managed individual products would fit into this role. For a smaller product portfolio, the head of product would take on this role without any hiccups else a dedicated full-time portfolio owner will be expected. 

CONCLUSION

Product teams require sound structure and well-defined roles. it starts with a clear strategy that describes what needs to be achieved. A clear product concept, vision and strategy helps teams to cooperate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured. 

Many product teams rely on purpose-built software to determine and define strategies, manage ideas, formulate visual roadmaps, and examine results in a centralized location. Six Product Ownership roles

Rajesh

Rajesh Bhagia

Blog Author

Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management

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This helps for quick feedback and gives teams the ability to adapt to changing requirements—a must in times when products have to adapt quickly to please changing user preferences.  The advantages of Scrum include:  More satisfied customers Better managed processes and happier teams Better visibility into projects Better quality products  Projects completed withing time and budget constraints Better adaptability  Motivated teams Lightweight Management ProcessScrum is a lightweight framework because it provides adaptable solutions to complex problems and helps teams and organizations generate value.Why Scrum is considered to be lightweight, easy to understand but difficult to master?Lightweight: Scrum, based on Agile values, has few elements and maximizes responsiveness to customer needs. This makes it lightweight and apt for software development in the modern world.  Easy to Understand: With just three roles, three artifacts, four ceremonies and 12 Agile values, Scrum is pretty easy to understand. Scrum is a collection of practices and concepts that teams use to build processes around. The Scrum Guide which is the Scrum bible is also easy to read and understand. The three scrum roles are: Team, Scrum Master, Product Owner The ceremonies are:  Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Retrospective and Sprint Review The three artifacts are: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown chart  Difficult to Master: So, if Scrum is so easy to learn about and understand then why is that it’s difficult to actually implement and master? Let us look at this from the perspective of a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master is a critical part of the Scrum team and is in effect a microcosm of Scrum upholding the Agile values and focusing on creating a self-organizing, highly motivated and collaborative team. Scrum is a not a one-size-fits- all framework. Perhaps that is what makes it difficult to master. It has to be tailored to suit the needs of each project, team and organization. There are several factors that need to be considered before adopting Scrum. The Scrum Master’s role, similarly, needs to be learnt and there are several skills a professional must have or needs to cultivate in order to be a successful Scrum Master. The Scrum Master’s Role in a Successful Scrum Adoption:There are many Scrum teams that have started out in the right way, but soon fall by the wayside as they do not follow Scrum in principle. This is where the Scrum Master plays a very critical role in the success of the team. Despite Scrum being ‘simple to understand and difficult to master’ the Scrum Master is considered to be the expert on all things Scrum.As a coach, guide and mentor, the Scrum Master should facilitate the successful adoption of Scrum, and help others to gain mastery over Scrum principles and values.A Scrum Master must mandatorily follow certain core values and inspire the team to follow them as well. These core values that include openness, commitment, focus, courage and respect bring the team together and promote better work ethics and practices.Besides inculcating Scrum principles and values and guiding a successful adoption, a Scrum Master should also have these attributes:  An Unbiased and Open Mind:  An unbiased and open mind is key to being a good Scrum Master. As part of their portfolio, Scrum Masters have to work with different teams and team members having different personalities. Having an open mind will help the Scrum Master to not look at every team with the same lens and treat each team differently. Solutions that work for one team may not work for other teams or situations. Having an open mind will help you realise this and tweak your decisions based on teams and situations.   Transparency:  Transparency and open communication are the pillars of Scrum. As a Scrum Master your intentions should be open and transparent to everyone including your team and the product owner. The team must at all times know your reasons for doing certain things or taking certain decisions. Being upfront with the team members will help in trust building and lead to better work ethics.   Metrics to Map Progress:There are several tools available to track a team’s progress and the Scrum Master must ensure that these metrics showing the team’s progress be made available to the entire team. This will help the team better plan sprints, work collaboratively and improve working practices in order to ensure better output and value.   Motivation for Team Members: Keeping your team members happy and motivated is a Scrum Master’s main job. This includes removing obstacles that may impede the team from performing and helping them work according to Scrum values and techniques. The development team develops the product, and a happy team means a well-built product and satisfied customers. Assistance to the Product Owner:  As a Scrum Master, aiding the Product Owner is a major part of your responsibility. The Product Owner is a major stakeholder in the Scrum team and the Scrum Master aids the product owner in backlog management and by facilitating Scrum events, product planning and by helping the team to identify backlog items. Aiding the Product Owner in issues that they may face with regards to the project, stakeholders or the team will create a positive environment and will make things between the team and the product owner smoother.   Focus on the Challenges: Every Scrum project comes with its set of issues. But an effective Scrum Master will be aware of every challenge or impediment that comes in the way of the development team and takes these problems head on. Focusing on these challenges early on and resolving them is paramount to the success and progress of the team and the project. Appreciation for Achievements:  The focus of daily sprints and retrospectives is often to celebrate achievements and give the development team proper appreciation. A Scrum Master encourages and motivates and this they also do by respective current achievements. While giving advise on how things should be done is necessary, appreciating the team on its achievements is equally important.   Respect for Others: Your team members all have different personalities and each brings their own uniqueness and expertise to the team. No one team member is less or more important than the other. An effective and efficient Scrum Master will recognise this early on and treat every team member with the same amount of respect.  Understanding of Situations in the Right Context:  Not all things are as what they appear. The sooner a scrum master understands this, the better. Situations in context to teams, individuals and even the organization are not always black and white and the Scrum Master must consider the baggage of organizational culture, current systems, internal politics, etc before coming to a conclusion about a team or a team members. Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Di...

85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to... Read More

Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servan...

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum... Read More

A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More