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New product owner in existing team

Last post 04:27 pm April 1, 2019 by Daniel Wilhite
12 replies
06:13 pm March 19, 2019

Hi everyone,


I'm soon to start a new job as a product owner and I'm told that i'll be joining an existing team, in and existing project.

Do you have any suggestions on how to make this transition for me and and specially for the team/project, smoother?

I have a project management background but i've worked as a PO before. I know my role as a PO is completely different from the PM so i want to be sure i don't go in too hard with this transition.

If i follow my instincts i would prefer to "observe" in the first days/weeks, so that I understand the flow of the team -their interactions, individual personalities and strengths, decision making, how they use the scrum events and artifacts, so that I can better adapt to them - and the project itself - what is going on, main shifts on the project over time, what is expected from the team in the future, what each backlog story is saying, understand how the project is structured, planned releases, assess with the customer and the team how they perceive the delivered product so fare, their expectations, etc. 

My main concern is that by doing so, i'll probably not add any value as a PO in this period and that the project productivity decreases.

Do you have any advise for me? 

Things you suggest I do and don't?

thank you!



11:48 pm March 19, 2019

You've referred to a project about half a dozen times, but to a delivered product only once. What are your thoughts, as a Product Owner, about where the emphasis really ought to be? How might organizational perceptions of value need to change?

03:22 pm March 20, 2019

My advice to you - considering that you have a background as project manager - is to focus on that you focus on stakeholder management and prioritizing the what. Interfering with the how and especially the timelines on how to deliver a certain what is the most common pitfall of a project manager becoming a product owner.

Now, that does not mean that you cannot challenge your teams estimations, but only on the value that their solution delivers (functionally and non-functionally). 

Hope that this helps you

Kind regards,

Marco Glorie

03:32 pm March 20, 2019

Hello Ian, thank you for your fast reply.

i've just read my message again and you are right, i almost never refer to the product. :S

In this last year, I've studied a lot about Scrum and worked with this methodology in some projects, and I've been thinking a lot lately on what comes harder for me in this change. You couldn't have put it in better, thank you.

I believe that sometimes I use the word "project" incorrectly", and it probably means that i still work with the old PM mindset and sometimes this mistake also reflects on the decisions I take, but just to set it straight, I have no doubt that my main focus is on the product, with all that comes with it. :) 

Regarding the organizational perceptions of value, I don't know if they need to change or not (i don't know them yet). My post, i guess, was to try and understand if scrum foresees a process/some guidelines for this kind of change, so that it has the least impact on product, team and customer.

ex. if we have a new sprint coming up soon, how should I prioritize the backlog before I know the product and all stakeholders expectations and dynamics well enough? I would much ratter trust the experience of the team on this, than mine, so, as a PO, i wouldn't be adding any value. Is this assumption correct?

Is it possible that i didn't understand your question?

Can you help?


04:12 pm March 20, 2019

Damn, I really have to learn how to do what @Ian does.  

My advice is the best way to prove yourself to the team is by providing the value that a Scrum Product Owner is supposed to do.  You say you have been a PO before but was that in a Scrum setting? Since you are coming from a Project Manager role, I am assuming that you played PO in a completely different scenario. 

Start with this section in the Scrum Guide.  It describes the roles of a Scrum Team.  Learn what you should be doing as a PO and do it.  If the rest of the team is an established Scrum team, then that will be exactly what they expect from you and will honor that you are doing the right thing. 

I also suggest that you talk to the Scrum Master for the team.  The Scrum Master role is to provide service to the Development Team, the Product Owner and the Organization as a whole. Let them help you as they should already know the team and how the previous PO participated.  Don't try to become the previous PO.  Become the best PO that you can be based on your skills/talents. A good team will adapt to the individual's strengths, skills and abilities of anyone new that joins. But don't expect it to be completely smooth.  Any change in a team's makeup can affect the dynamic and will take time for everyone to adjust. 

09:29 am March 22, 2019

Indeed it'll take to adjust for everyone, but also don't expect yourself to know everything at once.

What I can suggest to do is to see if there already exists a PO team, including people from marketing, sales, subject matter experts, the customer etc. Make sure to get to know at least the PBI's for the first couple of days of the sprint that the team can work on, so you can start investigating tickets with a slightly lower priority more in depth just a bit later. 

Accept that you might not directly be able to answer all the questions of the team. This on the other hand gives you a learning opportunity to see how the team thinks and to explore the product based on direct needs of the team, comparing this to the way to stakeholders'  expectation of the product.

10:47 am March 22, 2019

Dear all,

thank you so much for all your advise. I'll take it all with me for this new adventure.

I'm really excited. I truly believe in Scrum methodology benefits vs the traditional PM so I'll work hard to make sure I make it justice!


01:34 pm March 22, 2019

Note Scrum's a framework, not a methodology. Regardless of whether your team uses Scrum or not, you'd benefit a lot by studying the Scrum Guide and passing the PSPO exam

12:09 pm March 25, 2019

You have the responsibility on product owner and project management with your team. Project Initiation, Project Execution and Planning are most important. I am continuing my Scrum Certification training at Altegiclearn and I am also looking some effective answer for this thread.

12:53 pm March 25, 2019


Tell us where in the Scrum Guide you see "project management" or "project manager". Copy paste the appropriate paragraphs in your reply.

Unsure what Scrum training you're having, but if it's along the lines of "Project Initiation, Project Execution and Planning are most important", you're in for a big surprise.

03:31 pm March 31, 2019

Thank you Eugene.

indeed it is a framework, but please note that my native language is not English so some of this terms when used in an informal way (not writing for an exam...or so i thought) tend to be fuzzy. In the future i'll be more careful with what i write in here.

unfortunantly, except for Sander, I've noticed that most of the replies focus on my descriptions of things than on my actual request for help...


11:32 am April 1, 2019

Although I appreciate you mentioning it, I don't fully agree with you, Joana:) Especially Ian and Daniel always tend to help others. The only difference in this case is that I offered a suggestion that might be more practical for your specific situation. Ian is the master of asking questions for the sake of the questioner to think in different ways than already might have been explored. The danger in offering suggestions is that it narrows the mind to think it terms of that suggestion. Asking questions keeps a whole realm of options open for exploration and experimentation, which usually is the best for emperical learning. However, I felt that you were in somewhat of a short time constraint and thus thought it might suit the situation better to offer a suggestion. Depens on what stance you would take as a Scrum Master:)

04:27 pm April 1, 2019


I appreciate your feedback.  I do tend to rely on English being my primary language and need to do a better job since there are a lot of English as second/third language participants here. I try my best to provide my opinions and justify how I arrived at them because I do know that helps regardless of what your primary language is. In this case I apparently misinterpreted your original intent.  Please feel comfortable redirecting any of us as we are all here trying to help.  And some of us, like me, are here to learn from other's input as well.

Good luck with your journey.  The fact that you went to the effort to seek out help tells me that the team is lucky to have you.