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What is the Role of Stakeholders on an Agile Project?

July 30, 2012

Traditional project management methodologies, such as PMP or Prince 2, define stakeholders as someone impacted or affected by the project. Different project management methodologies have different definitions.
 
In Scrum everything is different. Officially, scrum only recognizes three roles: the development team, scrum master and product owner. The product owner is responsible for understanding what stakeholders require and for channeling their voices.
 
Before  we delve deeper into what role stakeholders play in an agile project, let’s go back a step and take a look at who is a stakeholder.  A stakeholder is, in short: anyone with an interest in the project. This may include:

  • End user
  • Project sponsor(s)
  • People you need to interface with in order to complete  the project; for example: sys-admins or legal
  • People directly impacted by the implementation of the project; for example: line managers of project team members, account managers, sales people,
  • Subject matter and domain experts

 
All agile projects  you will encounter have stakeholders outside the scrum team. Stakeholders and their exact roles vary between projects and organizations.
 
However, there is one stakeholder agile projects put a big emphasis on: the end user. The reason for this is because in agile, we have to make sure that we add value at every step. This mantra is reflected in every agile practice. For example, looking at the user story format you will see that it starts with “as a …” and ends with “so that …”. This forces the product owner to talk to the beneficiary of the story and to validate his assumptions. In agile, doing things right is good; However, doing the right thingsis much better!
 
The first agile principle states this quite clearly: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the [end] customer.”