Why a Product Owner Team?

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The Product Owner Team is a construct used in many larger agile implementations to deal with the challenges of the Scrum Product Owner at scale. The specific makeup of the product team is highly dependent on the unique needs of the organization, and thus there doesn’t seem to be much consensus around how this team should be implemented. That said… collectively, the people assigned to this team share the role of the Scrum Product Owner. To understand the role of a Product Owner team, let’s look at the role of Scrum Product Owner:

1. Create the product backlog
2. Prioritize the product backlog
3. Elaborate the requirements
4. Communicate the product vision
5. Represent external stakeholders
6. Participate in Scrum meetings
7. Inspect sprint outcomes
8. Change direction as necessary
9. Communicate progress
10. Terminate the sprint or release

While I might have one person that serves as the primary interface to the team, we are recognizing that the PO is a job that sometimes requires more than one person to do well.  Considering the Product Owner team from a slightly different perspective…. they serve as an enabler of the Scrum team (or teams) that the Product Owner might support. They are responsible for translating the needs of the business into user stories that are independent, negotiable, valuable, estimateable, small, and testable.

These user stories are ready to be consumed by the sprint teams with minimal discovery during the course of the sprint. This team is responsible for making the key decisions that the Scrum teams are not empowered to make by themselves… usually decisions where requirements dependencies span Scrum teams or where we have architectural dependencies (cross-cutting concerns) between teams.  One of my primary goals in implementing a Product Owner team is to increase clarity and reduce thrashing that often happens in larger, more complex product environments.

I’ve been advocating for Product Owner teams for a few years now.  Next post I’ll explore some of the roles and job titles that usually show up on these teams and how they play together on a complex product.