Architects & Scrum: 1. The forgotten questions of scrum.

18 Jan, 2011
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This blog is intended to be the first of a series of blogs in which I will examine the role of architects in Scrum. I will start with what I think that are the forgotten questions of Scrum and in next blogs I will examine how the role of the architect changes, what kind of architects are needed and and which activities architects should be doing to be successful and  valuable.
The forgotten questions of  Scrum
In the 1960’s Alfred Chandler already wrote that the organization structure of an organization is tightly related to its strategy and based on its organizational processes.  In the optimal world according to Chandler: Structure follows processes follows strategy.
But what if a process change occurs in the organization? Should that also not at least influence the organizational structure and the strategy? This blog is the first of an intended series of more, where I will try to find answers to this question when the new process that is implemented is a Scrum process.
A Scrum implementation in any organization is a clear process implementation in a specific part of the organization, namely software development. A new way of working, that starts by having business requirements and ends by having working software. A clear scope of a process. However having the statement of Chandler in mind three questions arise, which have not been given many thoughts in the Agile world:

  1. Was there a new strategy from the organization that made Scrum happen? Or will the strategy be influenced by it?
    Implementing a process changes without a clear justifiable goal will fail in the end. That’s why the reason Scrum is implemented in organizations should be examined carefully. Is it really there to support the business strategy towards the future or is is just a nice hobby from a well intended IT-manager?
  2. Are new organization departments being formed now at the IT-side and business side?
    Implementing Scrum is forming self organizing teams in the organization. But what does that mean for the old functional departments? Are they ceasing to exist? Does the role of the line manager change? and how? And what about the more supporting departments like architecture, quality and operations?
  3. What about the influence this process change has on processes in the organization that are linked to this Scrum process?
    Processes in an organization are linked together. They need each other to work optimally. A scrum process should have clearly influence on the business requirements process. But also all business processes should be able to adopt changes more quickly then ever before. Next to this the more supporting IT-processes should find their new way of working in line with the Scrum development process.

In the next upcoming blogs I will first focus on the third question. Specifically I will examine the architecture processes in an organization and the way they are influenced or even incorporated in the Scrum process.  Next week more…

Niklas Odding
Niklas has been working in the IT industry since 1994. With a business background his main focus has been process consulting & architecture. From this perspective he has become specialized in the way software can support de business processes of organizations. To get hands-on experiences, Niklas was involved in several BPM/ECM implementations as lead architect or project manager. The last years Niklas has been working as enterprise architect to be able to align the business strategy with the IT strategy. In this he noticed it was time for more pragmatic approaches towards architecture. By working for Xebia Niklas hopes he can help architects to find their new role in Agile environments. Niklas has received training in project management, consultancy , and process improvement, like Prince II, Consulting skill 2, Information Architecture, Business process Redesign, Insight in influence and Scrum. Before joining Xebia, Niklas worked for three other IT Service Providers and an Insurance company. He studied Business at the University of Twente. In 2004 he completed also his MBA study at the EuroMBA. He's fluent in Dutch & English, and speaks passable German & Romanian. He lives in Harderwijk, The Netherlands, with his wife, Madalina en four children.

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