Can the Product Owner delegate some of his/her responsibilities to the Development team?

Last post 10:14 pm July 17, 2019
by Felipe Díaz Lineros
6 replies
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04:25 am January 3, 2019

Hi there,

I have a question but after I research, I found different answers for this. Could you make it clear for me because based on SCRUM guide there seems a difference between accountable / responsible

 

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;
  • Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.

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

 

Thanks,

07:12 pm January 3, 2019

No matter who does the work, the Product Owner is the only person responsible for managing the Product Backlog and the only person accountable for it.

Can you clarify the difference you see between responsibility and accountability in this case?

06:20 pm January 5, 2019

Let me connect here with my question about product owner role. Is it good having three persons acting as product owner - each one on different level ?

One of them is being part of the team, two participating in review/demo meeting. We are doing pre-study project, which is difficult in defining what we are actually want to achieve.

08:57 pm January 5, 2019

Let me connect here with my question about product owner role. Is it good having three persons acting as product owner - each one on different level ?

No, for each Product there should be only one Product Owner.  The Scrum Guide says:

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. 

More than one Product Owner would impact transparency, as the Development Team and stakeholders may get mixed messages.  There might be lots of contradictions between Product Owners.  One source to answer all questions in a consistent manner is best.  There could be all sorts of communication challenges as well.  

06:36 am January 7, 2019

Thanks @Ian Mitchell, actually that's my question as well. What I understood before I posted this topic was, the Product Owner can delegate some of his/her responsibilities to Development Team. The answer is YES for my question. But according to your comment, it was NO, am I understanding correctly?

04:39 pm January 7, 2019

To add to @Chris' response.  The sentence in the Scrum Guide immediately following the one he quoted

The Product Owner may represent the desires of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those wanting to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner.

What you are describing is a committee of Product Owners.  We have similar situations at my current employer.  The way we deal with it is that we have one and only one Product Owner per team.  All of the Product Owners work together as a unit.  They discuss, prioritize, coordinate items that cross team/product boundaries and make sure that the items relevant to their teams are in the appropriate backlogs and ordered to express the best value the team can provide. However at all times there is only one Product Owner that interfaces with the team as that role. It is not uncommon for the Product Owners to invite other Product Owners to reviews but they participate as stakeholders since they do have a stake in what that team is doing as it effects the work that their teams need to do. 

It isn't the greatest way of addressing/eliminating dependencies but it has worked for us so far as long as the Product Owners continue to communicate often.  

10:04 pm July 17, 2019

"Accountable" is the individual who is ultimately answerable for the activity or decision, and "responsible" is the individual(s) who actually complete the task. Therefor the Product Owner can delegate some of their responsibilities to the developers.

 

I hope that my English is good.