Making the Change to a Scrum-Driven Process: Q&A with our Product Owner
What is your role within the Migration?
Currently, I am the Product Owner of PowerObjects’ Internal CRM system. This is twofold as it includes both the On-premises and Cloud-based CRM systems.
What kinds of items do you oversee/handle?
As Product Owner, I represent the business aspects of our CRM. To that end, I am focused on the long-term strategy and vision for the future of our CRM and its supportability as it migrates from On-premises to the Cloud. One big question arises from such a transition: How can we deliver scalable and sustainable solutions in a rapidly changing global business environment?
There are several ways I facilitate answers to this question. I provide some key insights and guidance to the development team to identify, assess, and mitigate risks that could negatively affect end-user adoption. Furthermore, I oversee the entire transition of our CRM as it moves from On-premises to the Cloud. This involves managing multiple products across two CRMs. Products include: sales, marketing, finance, delivery, licensing, and more. Above all, a major part of my day-to-day work is managing stakeholder expectations for each of our products. An important aspect of migration to the Cloud, department through department, is ensuring that current features in the process of being built are made with the thought in mind of transitioning to the Cloud. This serves the crucial purpose of designing features that have continuity and stable supportability across both On-premises and the Cloud. Future proofing is the name of the game.
Can you talk a little bit about where we currently are in the Design, Build & Validate (DBY) phase/step?
At present, we are rebuilding, migrating workflows and web resources across accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities. We are also deeply involved in building migrations that enable us to perform a one-time import of data from On-premises to the Cloud. This means that we will have access to real data within the development phase. As soon as our Azure integration is in place, changes during the transition period will be synced between On-premises and the Cloud until the transition is fully complete.
In tandem with Justin, we have been working on documenting the internal CRM support approach to building and maintaining our business processes within CRM. I have also been collaborating with our Research and Development (R and D) team to structure our Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) to match the architecture of our R and D Team Foundation Server (TFS) for continuity across teams within the organization. This is all being done with the goal in mind of being able to align internal CRM support with best practices to enhance scalability.
A key factor to our success in moving into the Cloud is the step towards aligning our internal CRM team simultaneously as the core builders. This means that the team is building what they will end up supporting.
We decided to make the change to Scrum-driven processes; what were we doing before?
Originally, we were utilizing a waterfall approach to the project, wherein we did extensive analysis and planning upfront and followed up by plan execution. Any changes from the original plan would often result in a strong impact on both timeline and budget. To this extent, waterfall can sometimes be too rigid an approach to projects. It often involves a larger up-front investment and can require key individuals to make important decisions based on observations and educated assumptions.
Why did we decide to make the change?
For multiple reasons, we felt the change to Scrum was appropriate.
First, when I initially took a detailed look at our waterfall approach, my gut reaction told me that it would not be feasible for internal support to effectively and successfully support both an On-premises and Cloud deployment. I knew immediately that there were bound to be gaps in knowledge between existing and new systems.
Second, we identified a few key concerns based around the Sales and Marketing teams:
- Real risk of adoption due to the long, potentially 1-2-year, process required to make this kind of change.
- Sales and Marketing teams would be able to go live, and of course be excited with the new system, but there would be no-one to immediately support enhancements, potentially leading to frustrations within these teams.
- A further concern was that whenever Sales and Marketing would submit a change request to CRM, the change would need to happen both On-premises and in the Cloud. The issue was putting in place an integration that would support this, making sure that both systems were in sync.
Third, based on some of these key factors the solution that made the most sense was to have the support team act as part of the team, including in terms of building it.
Last, making the move to Scrum allowed us to see everything that is going on, inspect the finer details of our activities, and adapt to changes as necessary. We had to ask ourselves whether the waterfall approach was scalable and sustainable and be willing to change our methodology accordingly.
As a result, we decided on Scrum.
What is Scrum and what role does it play in the process?
Scrum is, at its core, a lightweight approach to getting work done. It’s a framework – a way of doing things, such as an operating system – and a way to process information, as well as allow us to do something meaningful with it afterwards. Scrum allows a team to be transparent, analyze details of work to a high level, and effectively react and adapt to changes.
Scrum relies on people and interactions, as opposed to other approaches that demand a higher focus on process and tools. In this context, Scrum is a product-focused approach, leading to a much more agile approach, opposed to the “Grand Plan” approach of waterfall.
Scrum has a ‘Scrum Master’ who is the facilitator for all the parties involved – stakeholders, development team, product owners, and users. The Scrum Master’s role is primarily to remove as many communication barriers as possible to ensure open and effective lines of communication.
With our transition to the Cloud, Scrum enables us to be constantly engaged with our stakeholders and users and get real-time feedback on what we are building. It also enables all the involved parties to come to an agreement regarding what functionality in our Cloud CRM is desirable and what is feasible, as well as to understand the viability of what we are building.
Simply put, Scrum is a highly agile approach to work. It enables individuals to understand what the achievable goals are, make decisions based on those goals, and determine how they want to work towards the goal effectively.
What are some of the pros with using this methodology?
Scrum offers a lot of strong positives when it is enabled correctly.
It creates a structure that allows stakeholders to provide a Product Owner with their wish list, which protects the development team from becoming randomized. This means that the value added to stakeholders and customers is consistent. Scrum creates a framework that focuses on learning and growth.
Changes are always part of any product and Scrum is unique in terms of allowing teams to react effectively and quickly to any unexpected changes. On top of this, Scrum allows the stakeholders to be invested and involved in the entire process, every step of the way.
The focus with Scrum is different from most approaches. It requires special focus on being able to adapt and pivot the team when necessary to unforeseen changes; it places less emphasis on doing things right or wrong. For example, Scrum offers a continuous feedback loop which is nothing but an advantage, as the decision makers of the company can change plans realistically, very quickly.
As a result, teams can become much more cohesive, leading to delivering more value over time. In terms of a quantified result, the long-term savings for an organization, internally, are significant.
What do we hope to see?
We hope to set up the company for success in going to the Cloud through its user adoption as we make the transition department by department. On top of that, we hope to build the company up with an internal team that can support and maintain what they build upfront from DBV to post-go-live. We want to keep delivering success to our end-users and keep them engaged until we are fully in the Cloud and beyond.
The next steps are crucial to ensuring the success of Scrum implementation. To achieve this, we are going to focus heavily on:
- Our Scrum Master to guide and coach us on how we can improve our way of working together
- Continually building, testing, and staying in conversation with our ever-important stakeholders and end-users
- Deliver the value we know we can and always be working towards our go-live
Regarding our move to the Cloud, we are looking ahead toward these next steps:
- Identifying and licensing our users in the Sales phase of our migration.
- Building out automation and integration across several entities, including accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities.