What Works and What Not! A Portfolio Lead Retrospects

Enterprises are complex, and so are the development groups within those. Being agile definitely enables the software development groups to deliver high value and high quality software with speed for even within an Enterprise.

However legacy applications along with the overall Enterprise landscape pose its own challenges that are outside of the scrum framework to solve. Multiple Small scrum teams though working on separate applications need to be cohesive with a big picture. As a portfolio lead, who owns multiple applications and teams related to a portfolio within an Enterprise is a Chicken in scrum terminology. The expectation from the role is that of leader, scrum master as well as an Architect providing technical and functional oversight to the teams within the portfolio. The idea is to be a leader and not a manager in the true spirit of scrum.

This session is about a retrospective of my work life as a Portfolio Lead who takes care of multiple scrum teams, and applications. I would like to speak about the top 3 challenges faced such as Scaling Production Support / Knowledge Retention for applications delivered through Scrum, Impact of Organizational Transformation initiatives on the scrum teams, and Multiple Stakeholder Expectations / Conflict Management through real life examples of my work. I would retrospect what I did, and discuss and debate what worked well, and what did not during this journey of mine.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

This session is a Case Study where I would like to perform a retrospective of my work life as a Portfolio Lead who takes care of multiple scrum teams, and applications.

Size if the organisation: at a macro level. the development group is about 400 developers and the support group is around 100 engineers.

More specific details about the development portfolio described in the proposal are as follows:

  • 3-4 scrum teams with varied skills such as java, ruby, database, search technology, iOS development as well as cms like Drupal, alfresco. Around 20 developers in all
  • 10-12 existing apps enhancements as well as 2-3 new application development

The session would focus on top 3 challenges faced:

  • Production Support / Knowledge Retention for applications delivered through Scrum
  • Impact of Organizational Transformation initiatives on the scrum teams
  • Multiple Stakeholder Expectations / Conflict Management

I would spend a few minutes setting the context so that the audience can relate to the challenges that I speak about. Then I would jump into discussing the three points mentioned above.

For each of the points mentioned, I would walk the through real life examples of my work detailing the issue. I would speak about what I or my group did to address the same. Then I would retrospect what I did, and discuss and debate what worked well, and what did not during the same.

It would be an interactive session where the audience would also be involved as I would love to engage the audience in the retrospective discussion.

With regards to the Sponsor support, I initially faced challenges to gain their confidence in terms of understanding of big picture, complex interfaces, ensuring smooth running of things in production, as well as being the goto person. I guess the relationship is much better now. I had no challenges in terms of executive support as such. For both sponsors as well as executive level, I needed to work as a single ringable neck in terms of overall portfolio whether its churning out new products / features or ensuring the smooth user experience for apps in production.

Lot of things to talk about what worked with the teams. It was way different from the waterfall project managers, where more focus is on command/control. But I guess it was easier for me to find the sweet spot and what worked with the teams as I myself come from a scrum team background of 5-6 years working as developers / architects.

I would include things that found worked well with the teams in my session, as that was surely one of the main objectives of portfolio leadership.

Learning Outcome

Audience would have the following key takeaways:

  • Understand and Identify the challenges associated with scaling scrum adoption for multiple inter-related teams
  • Listen in to the real life problems faced by a portfolio lead
  • Discuss and Debate as I retrospect why certain problems or situations occured, what worked well and what failed
  • Take back ideas to apply while leading multiple inter-related scrum teams

Target Audience

Program Managers, Developers, Product Owners, Scrum Masters

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

Comments Subscribe to Comments

comment Comment on this Proposal
  • Erez Tatcher
    By Erez Tatcher  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Yashasree,

    Can you please provide more details about the case study, size of the organization.. etc.?

    Thanks,

    Erez

    • Yashasree Barve
      By Yashasree Barve  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks for your comments on the topic. 

      Size if the organisation: at a macro level. the development group is about 400 developers and the support group is around 100 engineers. 

      More specific details about the development portfolio described in the proposal are as follows:

      • 3-4 scrum teams with varied skills such as java, ruby, database, search technology, iOS development as well as cms like Drupal, alfresco. Around 20 developers in all.
      • 10-12 existing apps enhancements as well as 2-3 new application development.

      Case study is about the challenges a portfolio lead faces around managing the different scrum teams, their sponsor expectations as well as organisation expectations in terms of smooth operations wrt all the high usage applications, support and platforms teams. The challenges are manyfold. For this talk, I plan to choose top 3 challenges I faced (typical of a portfolio lead). 

      For each of the points mentioned, I would walk the through real life examples of my work detailing the issue. I would speak about what I or my group did to address the same. Then I would retrospect what I did, and discuss and debate what worked well, and what did not during the same.

      Hope this answers your query.

      • Venkatraman L
        By Venkatraman L  ~  3 years ago
        reply Reply

        Hi Yashasree,

        Great to see the details in here. Can you translate these back into the summary of the proposal / takeaways ? # size of organization etc ? That would help add meat to the entire summary which would the most read than these exchanges in the reviews.

        • Yashasree Barve
          By Yashasree Barve  ~  3 years ago
          reply Reply

          Done :) Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Venkatraman L
    By Venkatraman L  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    I think I can empathise with you on this, though I have not done a retrospective for my work life. I believe this session would be a bit interesting. Can you also share some thoughts on sponsor / executive support that you received to make this journey succesful, what worked with the teams, how you got the sweet spot of the teams to make some things work etc ?

    • Yashasree Barve
      By Yashasree Barve  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Apologies for the delay in responding, was tied up due to some personal committments.

      With regards to the Sponsor support, I initially faced challenges to gain their confidence in terms of understanding of big picture, complex interfaces, ensuring smooth running of things in production, as well as being the goto person. I guess the relationship is much better now. I had no challenges in terms of executive support as such. For both sponsors as well as executive level, I needed to work as a single ringable neck in terms of overall portfolio whether its churning out new products / features or ensuring the smooth user experience for apps in production.

      Lot of things to talk about what worked with the teams. It was way different from the waterfall project managers, where more focus is on command/control. But I guess it was easier for me to find the sweet spot and what worked with the teams as I myself come from a scrum team background of 5-6 years working as developers / architects.

      I would include things that found worked well with the teams in my session, as that was surely one of the main objectives of portfolio leadership.

  • Archana Joshi
    By Archana Joshi  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Yashashree, Are the slides for this talk present on the slideshare link that you have shared? Can you please point which deck do we refer to for this current talk?


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