Guide to Having an Engaged Stakeholder Group

Learn about the power of working with stakeholders and best practices.

In the scrum glossary, a stakeholder is defined as “a person external to the Scrum Team with a specific interest in and knowledge of a product that is required for incremental discovery. Represented by the product owner and actively engaged with the Scrum Team at Sprint Review.” Depending on the organization, a stakeholder group could include customers, employees, community members, or other individuals invested in the mission of the organization.

Scrum Alliance works closely with our own stakeholders and they have a direct impact on the work we do every sprint. To learn more about the power of working with stakeholders and best practices, read on.

What Is a Stakeholder Group? 

A stakeholder group is made up of individuals who have an interest in the direction and output of a business (or team) and are a valuable source of insight, feedback, and expertise. 

This group guides your work and helps you deliver real-world value. An effective relationship with your stakeholder group can help your team create the highest-quality product that is meaningful, usable, and considerate of honest feedback. 

A stakeholder group should represent all of the individuals that could potentially interact with your business/mission. Therefore, when considering members of a stakeholder group, assess whether there is diversity in experience, background, location, profession, time engaged with your product (new vs. expert), etc. The more representative this group is, the better you can support your community.

What Is a Stakeholder Group’s Role?

A stakeholder group is important to the scrum team and can help it live out the pillars of scrum (transparency, inspection, and adaptation). Ways stakeholders can do this include:

  • Offering insight and perspective into users’ experience and needs 
  • Providing feedback on the completed work
  • Providing guidance for future iterations
  • Suggesting new ideas or features 
  • Sharing expertise 

The stakeholder team also attends reviews and provides feedback on the work completed during the sprint. The scrum team and stakeholders inspect the accomplished work and consider any updates needed as the team moves forward. 

Sprint review is meant to be a time for discussion and collaboration around the next increment of work. It is important for review to be collaborative, rather than a report-out or a one-sided presentation by the scrum team.

The Scrum Master’s Role in Working with the Stakeholders

As a scrum master, you have a few key responsibilities relating to the stakeholders. The scrum master helps facilitate stakeholder collaboration as needed by the product owner. In regards to the organization, the scrum master helps remove barriers between stakeholders and the scrum team, and according to the Scrum Guide, “helps employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work.” 

How to Make Sprint Reviews Engaging for Your Stakeholder Group

Having a stakeholder group is one thing. Having a stakeholder group that enjoys being a part of your team, is engaged, and attends reviews ready to provide actionable feedback is another. It’s important to remember: the relationship with stakeholders is a two-way street, meaning there should be value for all participating parties. 

Our own stakeholders at Scrum Alliance identified key activities to practice to best engage them:  

  1. Make their value clear. One of the most important things you can do for your stakeholders is to make it clear why they are so valuable to you and your mission. 
  2. Spend time getting to know your stakeholders personally. You can do so by utilizing icebreakers at the beginning of review to connect and bring in some fun. Another way to do this is for the product owner or team members to have one-on-one meetings with stakeholders. 
  3. Understand what value means to your stakeholder(s). At your next sprint planning, craft a sprint goal that clearly communicates why the work you will do is valuable to these stakeholders. Share this at your next sprint review and do something courageous by asking, “This is what we thought would be valuable. How valuable is it (or not) to you?”  
  4. Recognize that the relationship is a feedback loop. Collaborating with the stakeholders is part of a process that informs the work of the scrum team. Stakeholders weigh into the work at the end of the sprint during review, which then impacts the priorities of the product owner and the team's work  the following sprint. At the end of the sprint the team will receive feedback and input from stakeholders once again. This is a recurring process that allows the team to inspect and adapt.  
  5. Don’t focus on one group of stakeholders. Remember, stakeholders represent the needs and perspectives of various community members. It’s important to consider all of these needs in a balanced way and to make space for everyone’s insight.
  6. Put your review time together to good use. Utilize demos to show the stakeholders what you’re working on and how their feedback influences what you develop. It is important for stakeholders to see the impact of their feedback to know their time spent with you is impactful and leads to action and improvement (for the product, initiative, etc.). 
  7. Show the stakeholders the impact of their participation. Make sure stakeholders feel heard and make a point of showing them where your team incorporates their feedback. This creates more excitement for stakeholders and interest in attending review consistently. 
  8. Try different ways of collaborating. Lean coffees are a great way to meet outside of review to collaborate to solve problems, have important conversations, and learn about additional opportunities. 
  9. Make sure communication channels remain open. This means the stakeholders can easily communicate with the scrum team, and vice versa. Digital communication tools are a great way to open up space for conversation and collaboration outside of review.
  10. Ask the stakeholders how working together is going. It’s important that review meets the needs and expectations of your stakeholders. Ask for feedback on the process of working together, as well as the work itself.


Now, take some time to inspect the relationship between your scrum team and stakeholder group by using our downloadable check-list as a guide (download above).

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