Product Owner (Internal) or Product Owner (Client)

Last post 03:43 pm July 17, 2019
by vishal Rajadhyaksha
6 replies
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12:27 pm July 16, 2019

During the Scrum Day Europe I got the chance to ask one a question of Roman Pichler Product Owner Expert & someone I look up to. The PO role can be a challenging one, is it better for the PO to be our client stakeholder or an employee of our company?

 

Following me asking this question, Roman gave a good answer sighting that there are cases for both, and it can be situational.

 

I did some high-level analysis and have some observations of each

 

Internal Product Owner

  • More likely to have full knowledge and understanding of Scrum practices.
  • An already established relationship with the wider Scrum team

 

Client Product Owner

  • Understands the requirements intimately
  • An already established relationship with the wider stakeholders

 

I think Roman was on the money advising this depends and is situational. This being said, we may benefit from asking some initial questions to determine the best strategy;

  • Has your company had previous experience working with Scrum?
  • Is your PO sufficiently empowered to make decisions supported by stakeholders?

 

Should the above be answered no, it may be prudent to suggest that the PO responsibility is passed to an internal Product Owner with more experience of delivering value within the Scrum framework.

 

All in all, as the Scrum Master I think I just need to do a better job of setting out the role and responsibilities of the Client Product Owners upfront to ensure they are fully understood and adhered to, but welcome opinions!

01:47 pm July 16, 2019

Should the above be answered no, it may be prudent to suggest that the PO responsibility is passed to an internal Product Owner with more experience of delivering value within the Scrum framework.

It's a possibility which Scrum does not rule out. However, is it likely to be prudent, given that it evidences a client's inability to account for the value of their product, and a desire to press ahead with some sort of workaround?

02:24 pm July 16, 2019

Regarding trust, can you identify any objections here? 
BTW, I was sitting right in front of you at Scrum Day Europe:)

05:32 am July 17, 2019

Thanks both for your responses. 

 

Ian - this is correct.

 

Sander - Not really sure what you mean regarding trust. The client senior stakeholders have trust in our company if this is what you mean, however this being said, I need to share my feedback with said stakeholder to allow them to take action if they feel appropriate.

:D - It was a good day!

05:38 am July 17, 2019

In one of the agile sessions attended by me, the coach mentioned that - Product owner should always be from client side as he has authority over payment. This is the functionality I need and I am ready to pay you xyz amount for the same. If this authority is not there , product owner cannot be "Owner" of the product in true sense. 

How correct is this ???

05:49 am July 17, 2019

Vishal,

I understand the logic; who better than the client themselves to advise the high value features with the confidence the have the finance to fund them.

However, sticking to Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation from the Agile manifesto, I don't agree this is necessarily correct. In most cases I've found that the PO does not have authority to make significant commercial decisions, and has to confirm with a sponsor.

I believe a framework agreement with relevant budgets should have been in place by the stage we are discussing features to allow us to work in the most collaborative and creative ways.

03:43 pm July 17, 2019

I believe a framework agreement with relevant budgets should have been in place by the stage we are discussing features to allow us to work in the most collaborative and creative ways.

Even I share the same view.