Time to Face the Strange, Ch-ch-changes

July 2, 2010 Steve Ropa

One of the most common meta-themes in agile adoption is about how many roles in a typical software development project change.  Some folks see this as a very large obstacle to agile adoption.  I’d like to spend a little time over the next few weeks exploring what roles are changing, and how they change.

It is my firmly held belief that these changes are good changes.  Not only for the development organization, but also for each member of the team.  While there is fear associated with any change, these changes, just like the subtitle of Extreme Programming Explained states, should be embraced.  After all, we are looking to become more effective in our development, and that will apply to every facet of the organization.

So what are some of the roles that are changing?

Programmers – There is a slew of new activities that we will have to perform.  We have to identify our tasks in front of a whole group of people.  We will have to engage in more social activity around the product than we ever did before.  We have to lose traditional concepts around scope change and users.

Analysts – There isn’t even a role described for us.  Are we all to become scrum masters?  Should we go look for a job somewhere else?  We’ve put a lot of time and energy around how best to describe the software requirements and features in a consistent, clear manner.  Now you want us to just write a bunch of stories?  What’s up with that?

Testers – So no more features thrown over the wall to be tested, with defects thrown back over the same wall.  We can’t wait until a feature is “done” in a given sprint to do the testing.  There is never enough time to automate the tests, and yet automated testing is a cornerstone of any agile development process.  How do we reconcile this?

Project Managers – No, *we* are the scrum masters.  Or are we?  How do we reconcile the responsibility of representing the project and its progress to the senior managers?  And where are my Gantt charts?

Other roles to consider are Functional Managers, Executive Management, Recruiters, you name it.

What are some other roles we should explore here?

Lets see what else we can come up with. To paraphrase Pete Townsend:  “Come on the amazing journey, and learn all [we] should know..”

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