There are some rules of engagement that need to be considered as the Product Owner…
Let’s start by taking a quick inventory of your team and figure out who is going to do what in this new methodology. Scrum defines three roles for us: ScrumMaster, Team Member, and Product Owner. Everyone’s pretty excited and ready to get going, so let’s take a look, and see where everyone fits in.
If your organization is like most traditional software development organizations, your team probably has a bunch of developers, several QA analysts, maybe some interaction designers, a database guy, and usually a Business Analyst and a Project Manager. You might be working with a real customer, but more often than not, you are working with a Product Manager who’s job is to define your product requirements.
Is that everyone on the project? It might be everyone on your project team, but is that really everyone on your project?
When you look outside the immediate project team, the number of people with influence over your project actually gets much larger. You likely have several Product Managers, maybe a few marketing folks, a sales team, and of course your support organization. You may have a team of engineers that implement your product and probably a few consultants that train your customers on how to use new features.
Do you have any interested functional managers, directors, or vice presidents? What about the Business Development and Strategy team? Does your project have visibility at the Senior Executive level? Where do the CIO… the CFO.. the CEO all fit in? These folks not only have an interest in how the project is coming along, they might need to actually insert some requirements and shape the direction and timing of your project.
More than likely, these folks actually funded your project. Do these individuals have a defined role in Scrum? If so, what do we call them… what do they do? Is it sufficient to call them chickens and tell them to talk to the ScrumMaster?
Over the next few posts, we are going to take a look at the role of ScrumMaster, Team Member, and Product Owner and explore how many of our traditional roles play on an Scrum team. We’ll examine how, from the team’s perspective, many of our traditional stakeholders are abstracted behind the role of the Product Owner, what this means for the agile team, and its implications for the broader organization.
We’ll assess some of the risks and suggest an alternative or two for dealing the Product Owner at scale.