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Lead Developer / Product Owner
Last Post 24 Apr 2014 11:14 PM by Ian Mitchell. 6 Replies.
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Pablo Rossi
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Pablo Rossi

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23 Apr 2014 11:52 PM
    What are the potential threats of having your lead developer also being the Product Owner?

    I was talking with a mate and he told me that within their company their most senior developer also act as Product Owner. As the Scrum guide doesn’t really talk about this I was wondering what you guys think of this.


    Cheers, Pablohttps://www.scrum.org/DesktopModules/ActiveForums/themes/grey/save32.png
    Ludwig Harsch
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    Ludwig  Harsch

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    24 Apr 2014 02:19 AM
    There is no such thing as a lead developer.
    The Product Owner should be someone who has a high interest in the product and is accepted by the stakeholders. It does not help in any way if he is a developer. The potential thread is a conflict of interests between working towards the sprint goal on one hand and working with the stakeholders and managing the product backlog on the other hand.
    Pablo Rossi
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    Pablo Rossi

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    24 Apr 2014 03:01 AM

    Posted By Ludwig on 24 Apr 2014 07:19 AM
    There is no such thing as a lead developer.

    I know the theory tells us that there are only developers in a team, but in reality in every team there is a “most senior person” and in some companies (not all obviously) this person will/can take the lead.


    The Product Owner should be someone who has a high interest in the product and is accepted by the stakeholders. It does not help in any way if he is a developer. The potential thread is a conflict of interests between working towards the sprint goal on one hand and working with the stakeholders and managing the product backlog on the other hand.

    I don’t really see a problem here? The team is working towards a sprint goal and they notice that the goal isn’t feasible anymore. This developer/PO can discuss this with the stakeholders.
    Ludwig Harsch
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    Ludwig  Harsch

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    24 Apr 2014 03:15 AM
    The problem arises before you already see that the sprint goal is not feasible anymore. The developer/PO would focus on the goal and make it happen. Due to this pressure, the team accomplishes the sprint goal and is happy in the Review. Aferwards in the planning, the developer/PO sees that the product backlog is not in a good shape and he doesn't know which features are most important to the stakeholders. He thinks: If only I had spent more time managing the backlog and talking to stakeholders. As I said, this is a potential thread. It does not necessary happen like this.
    Pablo Rossi
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    Pablo Rossi

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    24 Apr 2014 03:21 AM

    Posted By Ludwig on 24 Apr 2014 08:15 AM
    The problem arises before you already see that the sprint goal is not feasible anymore. The developer/PO would focus on the goal and make it happen. Due to this pressure, the team accomplishes the sprint goal and is happy in the Review. Aferwards in the planning, the developer/PO sees that the product backlog is not in a good shape and he doesn't know which features are most important to the stakeholders. He thinks: If only I had spent more time managing the backlog and talking to stakeholders. As I said, this is a potential thread. It does not necessary happen like this.

    So what if the developer/PO is timeboxing these events? For example: 3 days development and 2 days spend on shaping up the backlog. Plus during the Sprint Planning Meeting the team will also have the oppertunity to "reshape" the backlog.


    Arun Vattaparambil
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    Arun Vattaparambil

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    24 Apr 2014 11:23 AM
    Lead Developer / product owner: It's very relative, for a program where an existing system, application or process is restructured or re engineered an veteran developer with good grasp of business and functional demands for and of the system would be a good choice. but not the same in case of an application with critical business demands & various user base in such a case an senior business / program manager who has the bigger picture needs to be the PO. In both cases the SCRUM master should assess the situation and bring it in to light appropriately.
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    24 Apr 2014 11:14 PM
    > What are the potential threats of having your
    > lead developer also being the Product Owner? 

    In Scrum there's nothing to stop a PO from also being a member of the Development Team. The idea of a "lead developer" is however a confection that does not exist in Scrum.

    There are risks to combining the roles, including the potential lack of time to do both jobs properly. The Scrum Master may also struggle to represent and defend the interests of the Development Team when the PO is also a member of that team.

    Of course there are also potential benefits, including the on-hand availability of the PO to the team, and perhaps a clearer demonstration of having skin in the game.
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