Are you sure that Portfolio Managers don’t belong to the Scrum Team?

I mean, according to Scrum guide, a Scrum team comprises of the Dev team, Scrum master and Product Owner right? In this light let’s think better what are the similarities of a Portfolio Manager, a Scrum Master and a Product Owner.

Product Owner

  • Vision – Is the responsibility of the Product Owner to set the vision of the product to be build. This vision needs to be clear to every stakeholder and the Scrum team also has to be aligned in order to have a successful product. This vision should always be aligned to the strategic goals of the company.
  • Managing the Product Backlog – writing product backlog items, acceptance criteria and prioritizing the items is clearly the Product Owner’s responsibility. The product backlog should always be transparent and visible to all stakeholders for one reason- to align on the strategic goals of the company.
  • Empowerment – the Product owner should always be empowered from the higher management in order to speak with different levels within an organization and connect the various teams and resources and build what the stakeholders need. He cannot be empowered enough if he is not aligned with all these people and understand the  strategic goals of the company and various levels of the organization.
  • Great communicator – the Product Owner should distill all the values of the company and strategy to the product to be build. To do this the Product Owner should be able to communicate with all levels of the company. From executives to developers. Not to forget the customers for whom we build the product. To hold this communication he should always have in his mind the strategic goals of the company.

Scrum Master

  • Servant leader  – whose focus is on the needs of the team members and those they serve (the customer), with the goal of achieving results in line with the organization’s values, principles, and strategic goals.
  • Promotes the team’s self organization – a great Scrum Master promotes self organization of the team. This means that the Scrum team is not dependent on the higher management, but to do that the team should allign on the way that the higher management thinks and this is according to the strategic goals of the company.
  • Has influence at organizational level – A Scrum Master is not only facilitating the work of the Scrum team but is coaching also the other stakeholders outside the Scrum team. This is to align with the vision of Product Owner and higher management and strategic goals.
  • Good partner with the Product Owner. Although their interests are different, the Product owner pushes the team and the Scrum Master protects the teams, both of them they are trying to distill the same values to the Scrum team in order to build a product that is aligned with the strategic goals

Portfolio Manager

  • Promotes an Agile company – most of the IT companies now promote the agile way of working and this comes from the top down. Usually a portfolio Manager aligns all of his projects within a portfolio to work under an agile team. This is the general direction and this comes in congruence with the strategic goals.
  • Responsive Portfolio Program Management – RPPM connects objectives, initiatives and resources in an agile manner in order for the Scrum teams to meet the strategic goals.
  • Roadmap delivery – the product roadmap is the responsibility of the Product owner but the Portfolio roadmap is the responsibility of the Portfolio Manager. All of his projects should align with each other on the strategic goals of the company.
  • Stakeholder management – Portfolio Managers work directly with stakeholders in order to have clear vision on what projects (products) they have to deliver. In order  to allocate the right resources and motivate their teams in their right direction Portfolio Managers usually do trade offs with the Scrum teams on what to build. For the trade off to be successful, Scrum Teams and Portfolio Manager should acknowledge and fully understand the Strategic goals of the company.

As we eventually can see Portfolio Manager can directly relate to the Scrum team as the Strategic Goals connect him with the Scrum team. Whatever a Scrum Master or a Product Owner is doing there is a dependency on the strategic goals.


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