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Technical account manager interference on dev team

Last post 11:59 pm February 28, 2017 by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
11:05 pm February 27, 2017

I just started an Agile transition at a small software startup.

Our CEO has been identified as Product Owner as he holds the vision of our product.

The CEO is not close to the team, he likes to explain his ideas without getting too much involved in backlog, prioritization, release planning etc. So far so good, the dev team and the Scrum Master try to interpret his dreams, manage the backlog and communicate.

However one of our "technical account managers" who is a very skilful domain expert, who manages part of our customers during pre and post sale phase, and is also responsible for software installation and configuration, is constantly "interfering" with the team.

With this, I mean that he is constantly ordering the team to perform tasks that produce benefits for himself (better relationships with his customers) or values exclusively for his present or potential customers.

I don't say that he is asking useless developments, his input is often valuable, however:

- we have other technical account managers, who are not co-located with the dev team and for that reason are very weak (no dev for them)

- he is overriding constantly CEO/Product Owner vision: as he is the closest manager to the dev team, his orders have automatically priority even in the middle of the sprint.

- he learned the scrum terminology, so every task it's a "value for our our customers", it's important for the vision, it's included in JIRA with high priority etc.

- his tasks are often very time consuming and block the team for days, slow down the sprints etc.

- very often the tasks are not even economically justified. Some features are developed as "bonuses" given for free to his VIP customers and there is often no plan to invest further in them, to promote them etc.

As a beginner Scrum Muster and company co-founder, I would like to expose what I think it's a very dangerous behaviour, but I don't know really how to do it. Specially from an economical point of view: like "we are wasting money developing features with no ROI"

Which tools can show the economical impact of his decisions, or the impact on planning?

We don't have deadlines, except his customers deadlines, because we don't have a real planning and anyway not respecting the plan would have no impact except being "late" against our prediction.

I would like also to implement some sort of protection, as our customers, our main asset,  start  to be "his" customer and fighting with him could mean to loose them.

I'm a bit puzzled about what to do










05:21 pm February 28, 2017

> his orders have automatically priority even in the middle of the sprint.


Why is that so, when such behavior is a clear violation of Scrum practice?


Who wants Scrum in your organization? Who is sponsoring it, and wishes to see it implemented properly? The CEO?

08:06 pm February 28, 2017

I proposed SCRUM myself and the CEO agreed to have external training for everybody.

 And everybody openly declare love for SCRUM.

The best way to oppose SCRUM is passive agreement. 

As I tried to assume the SCRUM master role, without experience, I don't understand very well how to enforce it.

But for me it's obvious that the best way to oppose SCRUM is to say "oh yea, SCRUM is cool" and working as before or worse.




11:59 pm February 28, 2017

If the CEO, who is also PO in this case, genuinely wants Scrum then he must be prepared to sponsor it. One of the duties of a Scrum Master is to coach the team and the organization regarding the correct implementation of the framework, as per the Scrum Guide.

If they believe they know better then it must be made clear that Scrum is not being applied in this case, and they cannot expect its benefits.

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