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role of the customer
Last Post 11 Feb 2013 09:40 AM by Ian Mitchell. 7 Replies.
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Christof
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Christof

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03 Feb 2013 09:02 AM
    hi !
    what best describes the role of the customer in scrum?
    can he or she be the product owner / Is he or she part of a PO team?
    Should he or she be involved into the sprint planning or review meeting?

    I'm interested in some Feedback from the real life not so much from the theory.

    What do you think?

    Thanks a lot !
    Chrsitof
    ya_dinesh
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    ya_dinesh

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    03 Feb 2013 10:55 PM
    I am new to scrum and below are the points from best of my knowledge

    1. Customer is the person or committee who has best of knowledge about the product. Product owner is one person from within that committee.

    2. Product owner (PO) is not a set of team according to Scrum guide but PO is a person who represents the desires of committee in the product backlog.

    3. Product owner should participate in sprint planning meeting as well as review meeting.

    Hope this helps.
    Michel Wicky
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    Michel Wicky

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    04 Feb 2013 06:46 AM
    The customer is not known in scrum. A possible role for a customer is to be the product owner. It is the role that best fit. The reality may be a little bit different when the product is build externally or the product may be first decided from many different decision sources, in that case you will need a customer proxy, somebody that represent the customer best interests. In the real world i don't know so much "customer" interesting to became a product owner, they prefer to delegate to a proxy. The proxy as product owner has the responsibility that the stakeholders understand and agree to the scrum process and define how the priority/value will be defined and fixed (this is outside scrum but have to be very clear).

    I don't have clear answer if the proxy has to come from the organization that realize or outside, like a consultant by example. It depend first on the ability the scrum team to be the most efficient. My preference is that a business consultant with a good knowledge of the business (and scrum as po) will do a better job as a po rather than an employee with more technical skills from the company that realize the product.

    My two cents, hope its help
    Barry Overeem
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    Barry Overeem

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    06 Feb 2013 01:23 PM
    Hi Christof,

    I agree with Michel. I am currently scrum master of a project/product that we're building for an external customer. The customer isn't experienced with scrum. However, there are a lot of stakeholders that have an opinion about the product being build. The customer accepts the rules and roles that scrum offers. But effectively complying those rules and really being a product owner is a difficult task for customers new to scrum.

    Therefore we've chosen the following team structure:
    - an external scrum team that develops the product (7 developers, 1 PO and 1 SM) (that's us)
    - a certified product owner from our company who is helping the customer (and 1 proxy PO in particular) managing the product backlog, advising with selecting business value, managing all the stakeholders etc.

    Our 'external' product owner acts more like an business consultant/advisor/coach etc for the customer. Our 'internal' product owner really is the PO for the team.

    I understand that this team structure isn't really according the scrum guide. But it works!

    Hope sharing my experiences help you a little.
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    07 Feb 2013 11:33 AM
    Hi Christof

    A Product Owner can originate from the supplier, the customer, or another party entirely. Some customers don't want to dedicate one of their own people to product ownership, while others insist on it. What matters is that a PO has the skills, knowledge, and ability to fulfill their role.

    This implies that while the PO doesn't have to be a "customer", he or she needs to understand (and be respected by) the stakeholders for whom the product serves.

    Charles Bradley
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    Charles Bradley

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    07 Feb 2013 01:30 PM
    +1 to Ian's comments immediately above. I attended a conference session by Bob Hartman once. He said that a Product Owner needs to be available(to the Scrum Team), knowledgeable(product *and* Scrum), and empowered(to make Product decisions). Seriously lacking in any one of those three and you have a problem on your hands.

    The short answer to the original question is that the customer usually plays the role of "key stakeholder" in Scrum, helping with product backlog grooming and attending sprint reviews (as well as any other interaction that is possible and adds value).

    In cases where the customer is highly available to the Scrum Team, and is knowledgeable about Scrum(PO training helps a LOT), they might play the PO role. Usually though, with paying customers, this is not the case.

    Christof
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    Christof

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    11 Feb 2013 05:02 AM
    Hi there,
    first of all, thank's a lot for your detailed feedback about the real life of scrum.
    I only have the view as a IT service provider. From that point of view the customer has a very important role in how we do project management. So i miss that kind of role a little bit in the scrum theory. However, i think as so often in Scrum, it is a question of your own interpretation.

    I also think the best way is the "proxy-way". Depending on the customer, there will be a PO in a double role. On one side as a internal PO an on the other side as a more classic project manager in front of the customer.

    No what i'm also searching for is a best practice for a customer kick-off meeting. I've read a lot about requirement analysis in agile projects and about user stories. I've also watched that great video from Mike Cohn.

    How do you handle this? Together with the customer? How do you plan a customer kick-off? Do you invited the customer to a sprint review or better do a separate review meeting?

    best regards,
    Christof
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    11 Feb 2013 09:40 AM
    Can you clarify what you mean exactly by a customer "kick off" meeting? For example...
    - Do you mean a sales (or pre-sales) meeting with a potential client?
    - Do you mean the first meeting after a contract has been signed to supply project-filling services?
    - Do you mean the meeting immediately after the authorisation to initialise the project has been obtained from the project or programme executive?
    - Do you mean the first meeting of project stakeholders in which a candidate Product Owner may be identified?
    - Do you mean the first meeting (with the identified Product Owner) in which a product backlog will be drafted?
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