Integrating Business Functions into Scrum

Submitted by Andreas Schliep on 05/12/2015
Business Functions in Scrum

"I manage a team of business project managers who are responsible for all non-IT aspects of a project. If we move to Scrum, how does marketing / communication / training / legal / compliance / transition and hand-off/etc., etc. to operations align with the Scrum process? Meaning, the software is only a portion of what needs to be accomplished to "launch" something. I am in a very complex business in which the contribution of up to 20 functional is required to "launch" something. All I see is the actual Scrum process but not how it integrates with the other functions to get something to market. Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated."

This issue is quite common for the adoption of agile practices. The first question should be, if you and your team are willing to undergo a couple of experiments, in order to change your work process and environment. There are several approaches that could help you, but most of them require more or less radical adjustments.

A sound approach that goes well with Scrum is the introduction of Kanban along with Scrum. Gather your team, include the IT people, and start to identify and visualize your value chain. You might come up with an extension of your Scrum board that adds a couple of columns before and after the IT part (planned / to do / in progress / testing / done). You could track the process of any functionality, or project part, through the different steps. This should give you a sense about your current flow or disruptions of it.

Your value chain might look like this:


Or even fork into different concurrent paths, depending on your actual workflows. Visualize the stations, consider the flows and feedback loops, regard waiting queues or output queues (like functionality that underwent the IT TEST and is ready for VERIFICATION & COMPLIANCE.

While the Scrum part somewhat limits the current work in progress (WIP) by design for a given sprint, you might want to limit the WIP for other stages as well - i.e. allow only two concurrent features in the legal verification step because you have limited capacity there.

If you follow these first steps, you will find out a lot more about your workings and optimization potential. The study of David Anderson’s Kanban book or the consulting of a Kanban & Scrum expert is highly advisable.

The core of this approach is that you establish a sense of urgency and commitment to the change within your organization. Anything that enters your requirement / project queue is made visible. You will find out bottlenecks or functional silos, that block your value creation. You will see that cooperation and cross-functional work could lead to unexpected accelerations, shared knowledge and enhanced learning.

Andreas Schliep

About the author

Andreas Schliep

Andreas Schliep is a founding member and executive partner of DasScrumTeam. He is a Scrum coach and trainer. He studied at the technical university of Bremerhaven, and worked as a software developer, project manager, team lead and group lead. Andreas has worked with Scrum since 2003. He became a full-time Scrummer in 2006.

Since then, he has helped to introduce and improve Scrum and agile practices in numerous companies all over the world. His favorite topics are quality management and scaling.

  • Experienced ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Coach and Trainer
  • Introduced Scrum at WEB.DE
  • Coaching of internationally distributed teams
  • Transition from RUP to Scrum at UOL Brazil
  • Scrum Trainings and Coaching in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

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