Monday, September 26, 2016

The Forgotten Agile Role – the Customer


Many Agile implementations tend to focus on the roles inside an organization – the Scrum Master, Product Owner, Business Owner, Agile Team, Development Team, etc.  These are certainly important roles in identifying and creating a valuable product or service.  However, what has happened to the Customer role?  I contend the Customer is the most important role in the Agile world.  Does it seem to be missing from many of the discussions?

While not always obvious, the Customer role should be front-and-center in all Agile methods and when working in an Agile context.  You must embrace them as your business partner with the goal of building strong customer relationships and gathering their valuable feedback.  Within an Agile enterprise, while customers should be invited to Sprint Reviews or demonstrations and provide feedback, they should really be asked to provide feedback all along the product development journey from identification of an idea to delivery of customer value.
Let's remind ourselves of the importance of the customer.  A customer is someone who has a choice on what to buy and where to buy it. By purchasing your product, a customer pays you with money to help your company stay in business.  For these factors, engaging the customer is of utmost importance.  Customers are external to the company and can provide the initial ideas and feedback to validate the ideas into working products.  Or if your customer is internal, are you treating them as part of your team and are you collecting their feedback regularly?

As you look across your Agile context, are customers one of your major Agile roles within your organization?  Are they front and center?  Are customers an integral part of your Agile practice?  Are you collecting their valuable feedback regularly?  If not, it may be time to do so.  

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