Who should attend Steering Committees?

by | 3.3 - AgileBI Disciplines, AgileBI Articles, Concepts, Done Done

As a Stakeholder or Product Owner
I want to understand who should attend the steering committee
So that I know I have the best representation

So the first thing to note is that if you are operating under a construct that has a Steering Committee, you are probably not operating as an Agile organisation and your delivery team will struggle to “be” Agile.  However “doing” an Agile approach is still better than a waterfall approach when delivering Data, Analytics or Visualisations.

A Steering Committee’s role is to govern a project and be accountable for making sure the project delivers it’s agreed outcomes to the stakeholders.

In AgileBI approach:

  • The Agile Team govern themselves, with the help of the Scrum Master to assist them to improve.   They are accountable for delivering what they promise to deliver.
  • The Product Owner governs the prioritisation of what is done, and will typically have a group of stakeholders who assist them with the prioritisation.  The Product Owner is accountable to make sure the top priorities are delivered first.
  • The financials are simple in an AgileBI approach, you take the cost of the Agile Team per day and multiply it by 15 working days for each delivery sprint.  You add on the cost of the infrastructure, which is hopefully cloud-based and therefore has a known cost per day.
  • The proof of success is shown each ‘Prove it’ day and measured based on the acceptance criteria being met.

So the role typically is undertaken by the Steering Committee, of being accountable for delivery and making sure the project is on budget and is taken care of, without the need to write endless monthly status reports to the Steering Committee or discussing in detail who is doing what with them.

As I have mentioned a Product Owner will often have a group of people that will assist with prioritisation and this will often be done via a prioritisation ceremony. In fact, one of the most effective ways I have seen this happen is for stakeholders to “horsetrade” their deliverables to see who will define the vision statements for the next sprints.  This ceremony is not a Steering Committee or a Steering Committee meeting!

If you are stuck in an organisation that is still undergoing the transition to becoming an Agile organisation, and you are forced to operate under a Steering Committee construct, then it is crucial that the Product Owner attends and is the “voice” of the Agile delivery outcomes.

No doubt if you are forced to have a Steering Committee you will also have one (or more) Project Managers.   Their role should be to organise the Steering Committee meetings and produce the minutes (think Project Administration) not to be the voice of the delivery team.

And if you are operating under that model you probably also have a formal Project Management Office (PMO) in place as well, so the Project Manager can also add value by completing the myriad of reporting that the PMO will require.  Leave them to manage the dross of low-value traditional reporting that waterfall requires.

Leave the Agile Team to deliver and the Product Owner to manage expectations.  That, after all, is their role in an AgileBI Approach.

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