The role of the Resource Manager in Scrum

The heart of Scrum is a small, cross-functional team focused on the Product goal. The most successful Scrum teams are supported by resource managers who function as servant leaders for the team and who work closely with the Scrum Master to remove impediments for the team.

The role of the Resource Manager in Scrum

"We need to bring the IT resource managers along," I said. "It's important that they understand their role in ensuring the success of the Product".

The situation was urgent. We were in the early days of establishing a new Product which was critical to the success of the parent organization. More than 50 individuals were identified to participate on Scrum teams in support of this new Product, and few of them had experience in Scrum.

The individual to whom I was speaking looked back at me and said, "There is no such thing as a 'resource manager' in Scrum".

This statement - while technically true - is misleading. There is no CEO in Scrum, either, but that doesn't mean that your CEO should start a job search. Instead, this reflects that fact that Scrum teams function within the context of a larger organization and that the Scrum framework describes only those elements necessary to implement Scrum theory.

According to the 2020 Scrum Guide, "The Scrum framework is purposefully incomplete, only defining the parts required to implement Scrum theory. Scrum is built upon by the collective intelligence of the people using it. Rather than provide people with detailed instructions, the rules of Scrum guide their relationships and interactions."

The heart of Scrum is a small, cross-functional team focused on the Product goal. The most successful Scrum teams are supported by resource managers who function as servant leaders for the team and who work closely with the Scrum Master to remove impediments for the team.

The resource manager supporting Scrum team members should be focused on:

Reinforcing clear accountabilities within the Scrum team by supporting the Product Owner role, the Scrum Master role, and promoting self-management within the Scrum team
Reinforcing the concept of self-organizing teams by setting guard rails within which teams can self-manage
Creating a culture of positivity which supports the Scrum values
Building collaborative problem-solving and solution development capabilities
Ensuring that Scrum team members are able to work effectively in a team environment
Eliminating challenges and roadblocks which are escalated
Ensuring that team members have the right resources and training
Fostering innovation within the Scrum team
Leaders and managers are critical enablers in helping their organizations be successful, yet the role of leaders and managers in an agile organization can be quite different from what they are used to. The transition to an Agile Product Development environment is one that requires a different way of working no only for those who are participating on Scrum teams, but also for those leaders who are supporting them. One of the best ways to acclimate Leaders to a new Agile Product development environment is through participation in the Professional Agile Leadership - Essentials (PAL-E) class.

Learn by doing with a side of instruction
I love teaching the Professional Agile Leadership - Essentials (PAL-E) class because this course is all about helping Leadership understand how best to support Agile teams. I have seen first-hand how impactful the right approach from leadership can be in unlocking the full potential of Scrum teams, and yet, so many leaders are not brought along and given the tools that they need to support their team members.

The Professional Agile Leadership Essentials TM (PAL-E) is a hands-on workshop that uses a combination of instruction and hands-on exercises to help managers and other leaders who work directly with agile teams understand how to best support, guide, and coach their teams to improve their agile capabilities. The workshop provides a foundation for the role that leaders play in creating the conditions for a successful agile transformation. It’s a safe, casual environment that encourages discussion, and it’s actually fun.

In the case of the new Product team I was working on, the Resource managers became absolutely critical to the success of the Scrum teams and have continued to support them over several years to become one of the highest functioning teams which I have had the pleasure of working with. The role of the resource manager in supporting and enabling a successful Scrum team cannot be overstated; giving these leaders the tools that they need to succeed is something that I am very passionate about. I firmly believe that the Professional Agile Leadership – Essentials (PAL-E) class is one of the most under-utilized tools in the training toolkit, and I urge any leader who has questions about how to support Scrum teams in their area of influence to take this course.