July 28, 2022

What does Cross-Functional really bring to your Product Backlog? 🚀 (61)

We started this Scrum foundation series explaining we see four underlying concepts of the Scrum framework. In the past series of mails we covered the three pillars of Empiricism, the Scrum Values, and Self-Management.

A self-managing team is taking decisions about who does what, when, and how. This ensures the team can move forward without unnecessary waiting time. If we want to improve on that, and to support the team taking ownership, having the needed skills within the team is another step.

 

👉 Cross-functional, meaning the team internally has all skills needed to successfully complete their goals.

 

Growing cross-functionality = growing skills = raising mastery = higher motivation = higher effectivity.

 

In order to have your artefacts bringing the transparency they were created for, your team needs to have the required skills.
 

Let’s have a look at the Product Backlog.

 

Reminder: the objective of a Product Backlog is to bring transparency on what is needed to improve the product. The Product Goal, being part of the Product Backlog, is expected to bring transparency on a future state of the Product, serving as a target to plan against.


☝️ Even though the Product Owner is accountable for effective Product Backlog management, s/he does not have to do this alone! Collaboration on the Product Backlog is of crucial importance.
 

Without even trying to being exhaustive, here are a skills / experiences I would expect the team to use:
 

  • Ordering: what is number 1? Number 2? Not high/medium/low… You'll end up with too many high’s… 😉
     
  • Splitting: initially, items will be way too big to be implemented in one Sprint. Finding ways to split these larger items into smaller, yet still valuable items for users, is a key skill the team needs.
     
  • Business Value: understand the value from a user perspective, from your organisation's perspective, from a buyer's perspective. Ordering has to bring value into account.
     
  • Risk Awareness: be aware of the risks of implementing and not implementing an item. What risks does it bring to the business? What about technical risks?
     
  • Curiosity / Asking questions: why is this item so important; even more important compared to that other item? What is the reasoning behind this?
     
  • Analytical: what does implementing this item involve? What changes will it bring to the client's organisation? How does it impact the architecture of the solution?
     
  • Empathy: how about the users of our product? Step in their shoes and walk along; how does it feel?
     
  • Communication: expressing the vision behind the Product Goal and the Product Backlog Item. Why these items? How do these relate to the Product Goal?


These are just a few examples of skills that are put in action in order to have a transparent Product Backlog.

 

☝️ It is not a matter of who in the team has the skills, as long as together the team has the skills needed.

 

Summary:

Cross-functional is about having all skills within the team to create value each Sprint.

In order to have a transparent Product Backlog, the Scrum Team needs specific skills that on the one hand allow keeping an overview, while on the other hand providing enough detail for upcoming Sprints.

Prompt:

Together with your Scrum Team, evaluate which skill improvements the team would benefit from to make your Product Backlog more transparent.

 

We hope you will find value in these short posts and if you are looking for more clarifications, feel free to take contact.

 

PS. Next week we'll look at Cross-Functionality needed for your Sprint Backlog.
 

If you want to take a deeper dive into the core concepts we are covering in this blog series, then surely check out our Professional Scrum MasterY workshop. We have some scheduled in the coming period.

 

Don't want to miss any of these blog posts? Have the professional Scrum foundations series weekly in your mailbox.

A Cross-Functional Team and the Product Backlog