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I have an idea at work for a new Product Manager position at our office. I work with several developers, and it would be helpful to have someone working in a type of "Scrum Master" capacity, dividing out assignments and making sure they get complete.

This position does not currently exist, however I feel that I have enough evidence to indicate that it be very helpful for our business.

What is the best way to present this proposal to my boss? Is there a specific template that you know of for new position? It should be able to describe the qualification for the position, their responsibilities, and what metrics we would use to measure them.

UPDATE

With Anna's suggestion, I gave more details about this specific position. However, I would ideally like the most generic way to present a new position to my boss.

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Hi Seth. How is this question related to software development? –  Anna Lear Feb 22 '11 at 6:35
    
Excellent point @Anna, I will try to make that more clear. –  Seth P. Feb 22 '11 at 6:36
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Product Manager should be product owner, scrum master should be a developer. Also, even the scrum master should not be assigning tasks or dividing work. The team should do that and the scrum master should make sure they have everything they need to do their work. –  NickC Feb 22 '11 at 6:44
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@Renesis: Scrum master should not be a developer. If we talk about common roles transitioning to Scrum then smoothest transition to Scrum master role is from project manager role. –  Ladislav Mrnka Feb 22 '11 at 8:14
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@Ladislav, @Seth, both of these things go against Scrum methodology, although that doesn't mean they don't happen in practice. See programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/50336/…, a question from just yesterday about scrum masters assigning tasks (they shouldn't). So, I wouldn't call that anything under Scrum methodology because it doesn't exist. Scrum teams should be role-less for most efficiency -> Scrum masters are on the team -> therefore a scrum master should have the same role as the rest of the team. –  NickC Feb 23 '11 at 4:43
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5 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Of course it depends on how much structured is your company but I think the right way to present a new position, whatever it is, is to explain the role it plays within a process.

I would first describe the process as it is, then the process with the new role in and then show the benefits the new role brings. It may be better quality, lower cost, faster execution, etc.

If you want to get your idea approved, you have to clearly articulate and quantify the benefits.

You should start with a clearly defined and detailed description for you boss and then simplify it when moving up in the approval chain. The upper you go, the less details they'll want to hear.

Top management will probably want only to only hear about the benefits and will decide based on how much they really believe those benefit will be realized trusting the presenter (you still need to be convincing) and the sponsor.

Whether you succeed or not in making this, you'll learn a lot about your company :)

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While your team may need someone in that role, I'd be very careful about how you present it to your boss. Depending on your manager, that person may consider the proposal to be a criticism of their performance, rightly or wrongly, and each person will react differently but generally not well. You'll need a healthy dose of credibility and a manager with his/her ego in check for a straight up proposal to go very far. If it goes badly the other person will stop listening well before you get to why the idea is worthwhile.

One approach that I've taken before with some success is basically to convince my manager of what I want in a way that they think it's their idea. You have to be careful about this though because if he/she senses that you're being indirect and trying to manipulate them then it's worse than saying nothing.

The first step would be to persuade the decision-maker that there is a problem because if they don't agree with that then your proposal probably won't go anywhere. Then let them come up with the solution. Assuming that you explain the state of how things are accurately and your proposed solution makes sense there's a good chance your manager will either pick what you want or ask for your opinion about what should be done. The latter is much more effective in getting what you want because then you're not telling the boss what to do.

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You might find Johanna Rothman's recent blog post helpful. She's the author of "Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People", and I've found her blog very useful.

http://www.jrothman.com/blog/htp/2011/03/when-you-have-a-new-kind-of-job.html

She talks about how to hire for a new role - you're a step or two before that stage, but I think some of the things she suggests would be useful. She suggests that when you're trying to define the role it may be helpful to talk to someone who already does that role, or a recruiter, to check a compensation survey to see if the job title is listed to gauge the salary, or discuss it with a potential candidate.

She also has some templates on her site that might help you - look at the Job Analysis or Job Description templates. http://www.jrothman.com/Templates/index.html

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a type of "Scrum Master" capacity, dividing out assignments and making sure they get complete."

FYI, a ScrumMaster doesn't hand out assignments or make sure they get complete. It sounds like you're describing a project manager. If you already have a project manager and still need oversight over the technical tasks, this type of activity would be most appropriate for a tech manager or a technical lead.

As far as a proposal to the boss, you should point out specific problems that have occurred and how this position could prevent or solve those problems. At that point once you have generated interest in the existence of the position, then you can write up a position description, qualifications, and measurements of success.

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I don't know if there is an standard way in our company there are software developers and project managers thats it. Personally I'm very interested to grow towards software designer.

After talking to my project manager about my long term development we teamed up with another software engineer with the same ambitions and talked to the CTO. He also thought it might be good for the company (and possibly also us) to describe these functions. At the moment we're working on the function descriptions.

When these are ready the CTO will try to convince the CEO to introduce these functions. After the functions are introduce a path can be set out for me and my colleague to grow into the new function. It is a long path (we're already working 2 years on it) but by doing it this way I'm convinced it is best for the company and therefore for me. If it was a specific function for my needs the risk would be the function function would be discontinues and so would be my position.

Hope this helps a little.

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