The Forgotten Roles in an Agile Transformation

Developer Support

This post is provided by App Dev Manager Tuan Nguyen who spotlights the importance of Agile roles and contributions across the business.

Most of the organizations I have been involved with that adopted Agile tend to treat non-developers as an afterthought. This is not surprising as Agile is usually driven by the IT department but it can be detriment to the transformation. Organizational changes are hard enough, so you don’t want people feeling alienated.

imageMake sure you don’t forget the people filling these titles and that they understand how they fit into the Scrum framework:

Project Managers

Scrum does not have a PM role in their framework. In fact, it splits up the PM’s responsibilities between a Product Owner and a Scrum Master. This can cause resentment if they feel that their responsibilities are diminished.

The PM (or PMO) will now have to decide on the new role they will play: Product Owner, Scrum Master or a Stakeholder.

There will need to be a discussion on how the PMLC will fit into the Scrum framework and the PMO will have to buy in on the changes.

Business Analyst

BAs tend to get slotted as a Product Owner as it seems like a natural fit but the Product Owner role has a lot more responsibilities than what a traditional BA is used to. The PO represents the team to the Stakeholders, get Stakeholders’ agreement, decide what the team is working on, manage expectations, stop and restart a Sprint, etc.

They will have to make sure enough stories are in a ready state for the team to consume. They will also have to make sure they mitigate risks by breaking up Epics so it does not overwhelm the backlog.


They will have to come up with a plan to test all the stories being delivered in a Sprint within the same Sprint. The problem is, they cannot start testing a story until a developer is finished with it. Small stories and good Daily Scrum helps.

UX Designers

They have the same problem as BAs and must always have enough wireframes and mock-ups to feed the team. Most UX designers I know prefer to design the whole application before handing it over to be developed.

Business Stakeholders

As most Agile adoption I have experienced are driven by IT and not the business, business Stakeholders sometimes push back on the extra demand on their time. They might not be able to absorb the work being delivered at the end of every Sprint. They might not want to be answering questions throughout the project and prefer that all the requirements are done in the first few months then the team disappears and only remerge to deliver the final product.

As you can see, while the Scrum guide only provide 3 roles, Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team, there are a lot of titles that goes into delivering software. And everyone will have to understand how they fit, be engaged and buy into the new way of working.

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