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I am somewhat familiar with the concepts and benefits of Scrum. With that in mind, I am trying to improve the failing Scrum product management structure of a company I'm now working for that has three separate B2C products, catering to the same demographic and accessible on the same website. Each product has a product owner and a unique development team (5 - 9 people in each) behind it.

Given that the target audiences are similar (not sure if it should matter) and the 3 web products are similar in nature, what are the potential benefits/risks associated with merging the teams and having just one product owner/scrum master/dev team? Some questions that come to mind are: does it make sense to have 3 product owners and three distinct backlogs if your website has three distinct products? Also, if you only have one product owner, what is the best metric off which to choose who that will be?

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Descisions on products and product owners should typically be a business decision rather than a development one. So what in particular is "failing" about the product owners now? Are they not providing adequate information/feedback? Are they not taking sprint commitments seriously? Are they adjusting sprint expectations after development has already started? –  maple_shaft Dec 17 '12 at 17:33
    
You haven't really outlined why its 'not working' at present, and without that crucial piece of information you won't get much of a useful response. It's like saying 'my car is broken, how do I fix it?' Answers will encompass; 'buy a new car', 'check the battery', 'take the bus'. None are useful if the acutal problem is that it's out of petrol. –  RJ Lohan Dec 19 '12 at 3:31
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3 Answers 3

Merging the teams would be a bad idea. You would have way too many devs for an effective Scrum team and have to split up again anyway, you would also have to balance concerns between the three websites so one site never monopolizes time.

You need to look at each individual team and determine why that team is failing and fix it. Consolidating the teams is just consolidating failure and will bring even more problems. It could be the only thing you actually need is a subset of people to be part of an overall Scrum team that manages the 3 teams so you truly have a Scrum of Scrums.

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Excellent answer. Consolidating the teams is just consolidating failure Brilliant pearl of wisdom. –  maple_shaft Dec 17 '12 at 17:31
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It sounds like merging the products would make good business sense for both your users and for management. While merging the teams into one large team may not make sense, consolidating your product base to leverage core functionality might be a good benefit.

The teams could work separately but together then. They would need to work together and collaborate on components that are shared, but could focus internally on the areas that are unique to their part of the product.

I would think that having a scrum master and product owner that is well versed in all areas would be beneficial, provided that the product suite is not too broad for that.

It also means that may not need 3 product managers either, so you might get some serious resistance from the downsizing of this role.

Good Luck.

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Mixing the teams is a probably not a good idea. Restructuring may be in order if the teams aren't working well together. Be sure the teams are small (7 plus or minus 2). Also, keeping the teams cross-functional and product-oriented not component-oriented is also helpful. Developing with the intent to deliver working software at the end of each sprint is paramount to success.

Given what you've said about the situation, I would first investigate if the teams are really doing Scrum effectively as it pertains to the culture of your organization and addressing issues as they appear. Implementing Scrum exposes problems in your process; it does not fix those problems by itself. Without a conscious effort to fix the existing problems in the way your organization develops its technology products, your projects will continue to fail whether you use Scrum or not.

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