Monday, June 22, 2009

Is the PO part of the team?

Jack Milunsky posted this question on his blog here. He then posted this question to the Agile Project Managers group here.

16 comments later, this is quite the discussion. Many of us agreed that PO's should be part of the team and here are a few snippets:

Jack Milunsky-
I just can't see how a team can think about moving forward without the PO being part of the team. I guess time will lead the way with positive stories being told.
Prasanna Prabhu-
Prime reason why waterfall project fails is b'cos PO's are not involved & when they get involved its too late in the game, any change request can cost ton of money due to which you may loose market share.
Kevin E Schlabach (me)-
The PO is either part of the team, or they need to delegate their authority to people on the team (I've seen this work where the PO delegated to the lead product analyst).

The PO has to participate in sprint planning and review, otherwise you didn't get customer acceptance! The PO should participate in the retrospective. He's part of how well (or not well) the team is doing.

My experience has shown me that teams doing well in agile do want this from their PO, and teams not doing well in agile don't. Also, some teams do well in agile transitions without the PO at this interaction level. For the most part this implies that either the group doesn't truly get agile (holistic self-empowered team), or that they do and the PO is an impediment to this (so they move forward without them).

It wasn't until we trained the PO's in agile that this started to positively shift at Siemens Medical (many teams, many products, many PO's). A lot of companies make the mistake of pushing agile as a tech team solution and the PO and analysis roles (and UI/usability) are left standing alone on the dock. From a Lean viewpoint, they have optimized a small part at a cost of de-optimizing the whole.
Otis D-
I agree with those of you that believe that the Product Owner should be part of the team. As the saying goes in Scrum, the “PO is the single wringable neck”.
This is, amongst others, the person who is responsible for maintaining and prioritizing of the product backlog. The person who makes initial suggestions regarding what stories to work on ( in the sprints), the one who maintains the release plan, and a plethora of other crucial tasks.

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