Implementing agile for Non-Tech Teams

Last post 01:24 am March 27, 2020
by Mark Adams
12 replies
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02:33 pm April 15, 2019

Hi,

Anyone has any experience in implementing Agile in Non-Tech Teams like Marketing , finance , sales etc ?

Would like to know the approaches, outcomes , and issues while implementing it. 

 Many Thanks :-)

 

03:29 pm April 15, 2019

To what extent do you believe that marketing, finance, and sales etc. ought to be separated from product development?

03:39 pm April 15, 2019

Do not go into it believing it will be exactly like a Development organization.  Yes, they have products. Yes, they have requirements. Yes, they have cross functional skills.  But all of them will probably be a bit foreign to you if you have worked with software development teams most of you career. 

Explain to them the purpose of all Scrum Events, Artifacts, and suggested best practices. Explain to them how empiricism works and why it is beneficial. Explain how the Scrum Framework is built to provide for iterative delivery on a cadence so that inspect-adapt-retrospect become second nature. Be especially prepared for them to have difficulty in understanding how to refine items into small workable units.  They tend to see a customer presentation as one big whole product instead of small parts that can be created independent of each other. 

And last, be prepared for frustration.  On your part and theirs.  From my experience the areas you mentioned will probably already work in some agile ways just based on their work. But they probably don't realize it and will have difficulty adapting to it. All of those disciplines are used to multi-tasking on more than one "deliverable" at the same time. 

One more thing. You may find that some other disciplines are well suited for Scrum.  For example, accounting practices are pretty well defined and mostly routine.  Since there isn't much complexity and change involved in the work, Scrum might be a bad fit for them. 

Come back and tell us your experiences. I would be very interested in learning from your efforts. 

03:52 pm April 15, 2019

I can think of their active participation, in requirement gathering, giving frequent reviews and getting customers feedback on the product. But does this involvement for product development make their daily work Agile ?

 

 

 

 

 

03:56 pm April 15, 2019

Thanks Daniel :-) , Points taken

04:40 pm March 25, 2020

hi,

I'm working in a tech company as a scrum master. Our company right now is applying the scrum tool to the customer service department. But we are facing some issues that as if anyone here experiences it, it would be great to hear from you too. 

We have changed to Scrum for about 1 year and definitely there are many improvements. One special thing is all the impediments from handling customers are noticed faster to solve. However, we are still confused about the roles of SM. 

Can they be the person making decisions about what the team members should do? Or should they let them be more autonomous? 

As I find it is impossible for the customer service team can be autonomous because if they deliver the company products without a standard, it would be opposite to what normal cs department usually do.

I would like to have your shared experience or advice. 

Many thanks :)  

09:19 pm March 25, 2020

Can they be the person making decisions about what the team members should do? Or should they let them be more autonomous? 

What does the Scrum Guide say about this?

As I find it is impossible for the customer service team can be autonomous because if they deliver the company products without a standard, it would be opposite to what normal cs department usually do.

Why do you think an autonomous team cannot observe a standard?

11:34 pm March 25, 2020

Scrum and Agile principles in general are being successfully applied to non-technology verticals. I have been in workshops alongside people applying Agile to marketing, sales, finance and Human Resources. They are using Scrum events to promote greater collaboration and produce work more frequently.

The product will defer from business unit to business unit. But everybody has a product. In these cases, I have seen the Scrum Master play the role of a scrum trainer and the project manager at the same time.

Every department has projects. The challenge is to move them from a project organization (fixed scope, fixed budgets, fixed timelines) to a product organization (business/customer driven features, funding for the upcoming features development and marketing and sprint-based work).

01:04 am March 26, 2020

thanks very much for both of your comments. 

Firstly, I'd like to answer Ian's questions. 

For the guide of Scrum, SM can't be the person who makes decisions but guide the team with their expertise only. 

Fro the "standard" I have mentioned, I meant for the background of the company when they switch to Scrum, the customer service department was just a few people and didn't have a background of a regular CS department with no roles of team leaders or operational managers. When they switch it, there are only PO, SM, and team member positions and right now we are confused about the meaning of SM and PO. As a PO, they only make a decision of the outcomes meanwhile in the CS department, it is a process of working and serving the needs of customers. SM can't make decisions so we are not sure who will support some positions when we map it with the normal department style. 

Secondly, for Mark, I really appreciate your reply. May I know a bit further about it? Such as

- if SM does not make any decisions on products, can they make decisions about how to get things done? And what is needed to get done to ensure the workflow for the outcomes?

Such as a situation of having conflict at work, as an SM with 2 others, I have worked to make a regulation about how to work effectively and have asked the team members about their opinions or objections before we applied. So, is it the same as Scrum's idea or Scrum master role yet? Or it is like we are playing a manager role? 

 

03:58 pm March 26, 2020

Fro the "standard" I have mentioned, I meant for the background of the company when they switch to Scrum, the customer service department was just a few people and didn't have a background of a regular CS department with no roles of team leaders or operational managers.

Might a Definition of Done help assure that standards are met by an autonomous team?

09:59 pm March 26, 2020

It might help if you understand the differences in the Scrum Roles.  Each role is focused on a different problem space.  The Product Owner is focused on identifying the needs of the stakeholders and determining how the Development Team would best focus their efforts towards delivering value to the stakeholders.  The Development Team is focused on  building the product in a way that is beneficial to the stakeholder and cost effective for the organization to own and maintain. The Scrum Master is focused helping the entire Scrum Team become self-managing, self-organizing and effective at working together on delivering incremental value to the stakeholders. 

if SM does not make any decisions on products, can they make decisions about how to get things done? And what is needed to get done to ensure the workflow for the outcomes?

There is no traditional manager role in Scrum. The Scrum Team is self-managing.  The Scrum Team decides how they work.  When @ Ian Mitchell asked what the Scrum Guide says, you missed this statement from the section that describes the Development Team. 

They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;

You are trying to use Scrum in a command control manner.  The beauty of Scrum and agile in general is that the people doing the work have the responsibility, accountability and freedom to make the decisions necessary at the time that they are needed.  Let them own the work and the results while you make it possible for them. 

One more thing.  Scrum does not make you faster at delivery.  It makes you smarter at deliverying the right thing.  And your deliveries are more timely based upon the needs. 

 

12:43 am March 27, 2020

thanks much for your comments above. 

I made this question due to a specific problem that I have to deal with when being an SM for a customer service team. 

With some of the standards that they should deliver, in my opinion, such as their manners to customers, it is quite confusing that people might think differently about how to react to certain things. Also, for the characteristic of this work is much for individuals, as we serve an online service, people tend to work in their own way and somehow it affects the workload of others by ignoring the chats or showing some attitudes to customers. 

Therefore I wonder as if the meaning of PO is

The Product Owner is focused on identifying the needs of the stakeholders and determining how the Development Team would best focus their efforts towards delivering value to the stakeholders

So, would it be the PO who makes the decisions on the standard of member outcomes and also decide when members violate the DoD? 

 

 

01:24 am March 27, 2020

Based on the conversations I've had with the non-tech folks, the "decision maker" or owner of an initiative in the marketing, finance or HR team is the Product Owner. That could be a team lead, a team manager, or the person who has taken ownership of a major initiative. 

The Scrum Master in those situations are playing two roles. One, they're organizing Scrum Events and teaching their teams what Scrum is all about. Two, they're playing a Project Manager-like role where they are helping to connect the dots and remove impediments.