It is a core Agile Principle that development teams should be working with business stakeholders daily in order to deliver what the customer wants. It is also, however, hard to draw the lines defining these relationships. This article will provide you with the fundamentals to draw those lines clearly for all involved and to build in guardrails to ensure success.
Mind the gap
The gap in question that needs to be clearly addressed and understood is responsibility. Put simply, it is the responsibility of the product stakeholders to fully answer the “What,” as in, “What does the customer need?” This includes a comprehensive view of what customer group is targeted, what their pain points are, and what success looks like in the form of acceptance criteria.
The other side of this gap is the “How” that falls to the delivery team or teams to decide. “How do we build this based on our current system architecture, team capabilities, and cadence of delivery.”
Product is responsible for the What
and Delivery is responsible for the How
How could this possibly go wrong?!?!
When spelled out so simply it does seem hard to get confused. Product is responsible for the “What” and delivery is responsible for the “How.” In practice, though the lines often get blurred.
This can be prevented with clear roles and responsibilities and defining event participation by each role. Setting these expectations at the beginning can prevent misunderstanding and confusion further down the line.
Tips for Agile Teams Working Remotely
Spelling out who is involved and when
Early in the creation or launch of your Agile Transformation you want to address the issues of what roles participate in which events and to what degree. For example the product stakeholders outside of the Product Owner should not be directly involved in the delivery teams Feature Refinement sessions unless invited as a subject matter expert.
A handy way to provide this level of detail around who should participate and to what level they should participate is a responsibility or RACI chart for Agile Events. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
Responsibility or RACI chart
Having a responsibility or RACI chart for each event and included with each role for both product and delivery roles can help provide clarity and understanding before work begins so that everyone is comfortable that they know what their part to play is and where that part ends.
Below is a sample RACI Chart for Agile Events that you can download and customize for your organization.
Agile stakeholders and delivery teams
Once you make it clear that the delivery teams are very interested in input and partnership with the product and business stakeholders you have to spell out how that relationship works. Providing a chart like the one above is a great step toward clear communication of what is expected of each party along the way.
Keep everyone in your organization headed in the right direction by explaining the “What” and “How” of the Agile Product Delivery Model and be sure to inform everyone on both sides to “Mind the Gap.”