It seems on many projects using Scrum (especially those projects in large organizations) that key stakeholders don’t believe they need to be part of the Scrum. Stakeholders in this case being Project Directors and Business Development or Marketing executives who represent customers. They want to have a voice but don’t commit to participation in the process. They expect results and deliveries but are disappointed by not getting what they expect.
The key is communication!! Continuous ongoing communication through participation. They must be part of the process because they define what gets built. They define it as much as the user of the systems and engineers do. Participation is critical to project success. Some of the keys to success include:
- Inclusion of Stakeholders in more than Sprint Reviews is necessary.
- Stakeholders must represent and help define the goals and direction for each sprint, potentially for each backlog item as well.
- Engineers must clearly articulate both the feasibility of identified system capabilities and level of effort to the Stakeholders.
- Assigning a Stakeholder proxy to participate is a dubious approach. Adding an extra level in the communication channel usually doesn’t help much.
Most times the Stakeholders are willing to participate when it’s made clear they are needed. If not, it should be made clear that what gets delivered and when it gets delivered is estimated strictly based on the direct input from the stakeholders. It should also be made clear that without the communication and participation the project is essentially bottle-necked or on hold. Making well directed progress using good communication throughout the entire process applies to all members of the team.
Everyone on the team, especially the Scrum Master, needs to insist (or force) that there is participation by all members to drive the project forward. It’s not just for developers.