Can PO delegate the ordering of Product Backlog?

Last post 04:53 pm January 23, 2018
by Benjamin Garrido Barreiro
6 replies
08:32 am January 19, 2018


I was reviewing the Scrum Guide after I obtain my PSPOI certificated, and this point is confusing me:

The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog. Product Backlog management includes:

  • Clearly expressing Product Backlog items;
  • Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions;
  • Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs;
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next; and,
  • Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.

I don't know how to interprete the next sentence:

The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.

Can the PO delegate all this responsabilities? Can delegate the ordering of the Product Backlog? For example.


09:30 pm January 19, 2018

The way I understand it, the PO is accountable for ensuring that all PO responsibilities are executed well.   It is up to the PO to manage such responsibilities as they see fit.

If the PO decides to delegate some, most, or all of the PO's responsibilities, that is their choice, but the "buck" basically stops with them.

How effective do you believe a PO can be, if they delegate some, most, or all of their responsibilities?   How effective can anyone be delegating items that ultimately fall under their responsibility?

10:43 am January 22, 2018

Then you can delegate the 5 points while you will remain accountable. You can delegate the managing of the PB, write the User Histories...

Truly the phrase after responsibilities still seems too ambiguous and confusing:

The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.

Thanks Timothy but I don't understand it yet.

02:14 pm January 22, 2018

Benjamin, the PO may delegate some, most, or all of the work, but they cannot delegate any of the responsibility.   They are the sole person responsible, and it is only one person, not a committee.

Hopefully, that is a bit clearer,.

02:38 pm January 22, 2018

The tasks listed for the PO are his responsibility. It does not mean they have to do the work themselves though. Let's look at Backlog Ordering for example. This falls under the responsibility of the PO, but he can delegate this task to a developer if he chooses to. Now, let's say the ordering was done incorrectly, the Sprint Goal suffers and the product cannot be delivered within the timeline that was set forth in Sprint Planning. The developer is NOT at fault for this, the PO will be at fault. Even though the developer did the ordering, it is the PO that is ultimately responsible for the outcome.

02:57 pm January 22, 2018

Try thinking about this in terms of when it might be advantageous for a Product Owner to have Development Team members do some or all of that work. Examples can include improved knowledge dissemination and collaboration, better refinement and more accurate forecasting, reduced rework, and improved product quality and throughput. The Product Owner may value each of these things but there would be no question of abdicating any responsibility.

04:53 pm January 23, 2018

Thank you so much for all your explanations. Now I have a clear idea about this.