Scrum Technology: Upping Client Involvement

If you are a project manager that uses Scrum methodology, then you’re keenly aware that keeping the client involved is an important part of the process. But, this is oftentimes easier said than done. Still, it remains that the way you involve your client and the level that you integrate them can be a huge determinant of your success.

Your Client’s Role

When using Scrum, the client’s role should be to keep track of the product backlog. In other words, he or she should be made responsible for adding entries or making adjustments to the project. This will leave your team free to accurately develop his or her requests.

If you are unable to do this, the Scrum sprint meeting will not be a pretty sight. If the client hasn’t reviewed the project or provided feedback, chances are the team has been stagnant or the project has gone off-track.

As the project manager of a Scrum project, you are responsible for orchestrating everyone’s involvement. Since the client owns the project, they’re responsible for project production costs or the business value of the end product. They provide their vision of the product’s essence as well as clear points, suggestions, and descriptions on how it should work. Ignoring the client or minimizing their role will create a gap that will negatively impact effectiveness.

Client Involvement

When using Scrum methodology, your role as project manager is to ensure the project’s success by keeping everyone (including the client) involved. But, what if your client is … shall we say… resistant to the process? How do you ensure his collaboration? Although this may sound like a difficult task, the reality is that it’s relatively easy to do do. How, do you ask? Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • At the first project meeting, find out if the client will be directly involved with the project or if the task will be delegated to someone else
  • Explain to the client that, for the Scrum methodology to be effective, they must take an active role. If they don’t, they risk getting an end product that doesn’t meet their expectations
  • Report to the client in a way that makes him ask questions
  • Explain that their input is integral to the team effort
  • Remind your clients that their involvement, especially with risk management sessions, will help the project progress at a much quicker pace
  • Use the burndown chart to reward both the client and your team. Display this chart in such a way that everyone who’s involved can see it and keep track of the project’s progress for themselves. For instance, if the client has made a landmark decision, make a note of it on the chart
  • Because you are the project manager, it’s your responsibility to put forth the greatest effort. You must follow thru with the client and keep them invested at every level

Involving the client in Scrum methodology doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be as simple as using your communication skills. If you are utilizing this methodology and the client isn’t actively participating, it’s not being used to its full potential. That is, everyone will lose out in the long run.