Disciplined Agile – Roles

By telleropnul, July 5, 2016

Any given person will be in one or more roles, an individual can change her role(s) over time, and any given role will have zero or more people performing it at any given time. For example, Simon may be in the role of team member and architecture owner right now but step into the role of product owner next month when Sandra, the existing product owner, goes on vacation.

Roles are not positions, nor are they meant to be. For example, although there may be a number of stakeholders of your project none of them is likely to have a position of “stakeholder.”

Primary Roles

Product Owner Speaks for the customer.
Architecture Owner Focuses on the technology aspect.
Team Member Generalizing specialist.
(Servant) Team Lead Facilitator of  the needs of the team.
(Stakeholder / Customer / Sponsor) Entities inside or outside the organisation that have an interest in the project.  The sponsor provides funding.

Secondary Roles

Specialist Most agile team members are generalizing specialists.  For larger projects team members may be recognized as specialist in an area of expertise.
Technical Expert Technical experts are experts external to the team who are brought in to help overcome an obstacle or to transfer their skills to the team.
(Independent) Tester Outside validation of work (i.e. system integration testing, user acceptance testing or penetration testing)
Domain Expert Person who is an authority in a particular area or topic and often provided by the stakeholder to explain certain aspects of the requirements.
Integrator Integration of subsystems or features often provided by sub-teams.

Note: Secondary roles are easily misinterpreted as there is some overlap between specialist, technical expert and domain expert roles; these roles are all subject matter experts in their own right.

Primary Roles

Teams do more than simply implement requirements, so the “product backlog” evolves from being a stack of requirements to a stack of work items that include requirements, defects to be addressed, work to support other teams (such as reviews of their work), and activities to help support the team (such as deployment activities and training). The entire work item list needs to be prioritized, not just the backlog of requirements, implying greater responsibility for the product owner.

Product Owner

  • Speaks for the customer.
  • Provides timely information and makes timely decisions.
  • Maintains and prioritizes the list of work with stakeholders (customer) and team in mind.
  • Continually re-prioritizes and adjusts scope.
  • Participates in modeling and acceptance testing.
  • Requirements management.
  • Helps team gain direct access to stakeholders.
  • Gateway to funding.
  • Good communicator.
  • Role is well-suited for a Business analyst or Project manager.
  • Sponsors may think that -as they fund the project- they own part of the product and may be offended by there being a Product Owner role.

Architecture Owner

  • Guiding the creation and evolution of the architecture of the solution.
  • Leads technical discussions without being solely responsible.
  • Mentoring and coaching other team members in technical matters.
  • Good design and refactoring.
  • Continuous integration.
  • Identify the initial scope.

Team member

  • Perform testing, analysis, architecture, design, programming, planning, estimation, and many more activities.
  • Identify tasks, estimate tasks, “sign up” for tasks, perform the tasks, and track their status toward completion.
  • Not every team member necessarily has all skills.
  • Act in a self-organizing, collaborative manner.
  • Liaise with Product Owner for customer related matters.
  • Liaise with Architecture Owner for technical matters.
  • Tailor, re-use and improve standards, principles, processes and procedures.
  • Fail early, fail often, revise, learn.
  • Lead (stand-up) meetings.

(Servant) Team Lead

  • Responsible for the effectiveness and continuous improvement of the process being followed by the team.
  • Facilitates close cooperation across all roles and functions.
  • Ensures that the team is fully functional and productive.
  • Keeps team focused within the context of the project vision and goals.
  • Is responsible for removal of team-based impediments and for the escalation of organization wide impediments.
  • Protects the team from interruptions and external interference.
  • Maintains open honest communication between everyone involved with the project.
  • Coaches others in the use and application of agile practices.
  • Prompts the team to discuss and think through issues when they’re identified.
  • Facilitates decision making (does not make decisions or mandate internal team activity).
  • Assessing team members.