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

Niklas Odding

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...

Comments (4)

  1. [...] the forgotten questions of Scrum and in next blogs I will examine how the role of the architect... [full post] Niklas Odding Xebia Blog 0 0 0 0 0 [18 Jan 2011 [...]

  2. Geert Bossuyt - Reply

    January 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Interesting question. I look forward to next weeks answers.

    In addition to your first question, I have a question for you : Could Scrum ( Agile!) be a means to improve the realization of strategic goals ?

    I feel like the second question(s) are somewhat rhetoric 🙂

    Adding on your third question, again a question for you : Are processes tied together or people ?

  3. Mike Cottmeyer - Reply

    January 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Like this post and appreciate the reference to Chandler. Similar to Geert's comment, I think that question 1 presupposes that the organization was aligned to it's strategy to begin with.

    Scrum adoption has to come along with an alignment of structure, process, and strategy or it will fail... or at best, result in a sub-optimization within the overall enterprise.

  4. Niklas odding - Reply

    January 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I think the strategy defines how an organization wants to reach its goals. The implementation of Scrum in an organization, will have to be in line with that. An organization that for example has a strategy to be an innovator, need to have a software development process which can quickly adapt the IT to their needs.
    So: yes Scrum could be a means to improve the realization of strategic goals.

    In regards to your other question, I would say that processes interconnected by the actors that execute them. An actor can also be a system. In my next blog i will focus firstly on the guidelines architects (people) should get, to play a different role in the architecture processes.

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