Product owner and acceptance criteria

Last post 06:34 pm August 20, 2019
by Ian Mitchell
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07:27 pm August 19, 2019

This is my first time posting on here. I am a new scrum master in an organization who says they are using scrum. The problem is, it's waterfall stuffed into scrum events. The product owners are acting like project managers. We currently use a kanban board to keep track of our user stories. What I am noticing is the team treats the "In Testing" column as a hand-off to the product owners to go through the acceptance criteria. This can be a bottleneck. What are some ways I can help them get out of the "hand-off" mind-set? How do your teams check the acceptance criteria and make sure it follows the definition of done? 

07:48 pm August 19, 2019

** To clarify my last question: How do your teams check that the user stories have addressed and completed the acceptance criteria and the definition of done?

08:55 pm August 19, 2019

@Nancy See

What I am noticing is the team treats the "In Testing" column as a hand-off to the product owners to go through the acceptance criteria.

Consider if there is a better time like backlog refinement to validate the acceptance criteria instead of during a Sprint. The Product Owner and the Development Team members can agree upon this before selecting work into the Sprint during backlog refinement.

 How do your teams check that the user stories have addressed and completed the acceptance criteria and the definition of done?

Not sure I fully understood you here but, if the work satisfies the conditions specified in the Acceptance criteria and similarly the Definition of Done, then the work can be considered done. It's kinda like checking items off a to do list and ensuring everything is working as expected. The Product Owner can work with the Dev Team to validate the work, similarly feedback can be received from the stakeholders during the Sprint Review. Hope this helps.

 

02:13 am August 20, 2019

This can be a bottleneck.

How do you know there is a bottleneck, unless the team have a WIP limited workflow that is being impeded?

In a waterfall, project-managed situation you would expect a large batch of work to accumulate and then be “handed off”, typically at a defined stage-gate. Is there such a stage-gate here?

09:08 am August 20, 2019

How do your teams check that the user stories have addressed and completed the acceptance criteria and the definition of done?

It depends on your acceptance criteria for an item/user story and your DOD for an increment. Just to highlight acceptance criteria is best to be at user stories/items level and DOD for an increment as a whole. 

 

 

05:15 pm August 20, 2019

Thank you for the replies.

Ian, many of the user story testing is done towards the end of the sprint by the product owners --  at this point, the product owner now has a list of those stories waiting to be tested. Since it's at the end of the sprint, some of those stories aren't able to be checked off because the PO finds issues with what was built.

Yes, there used to be a fairly defined stage-gate (Designers hand-off to Devs then hand-off to Content, etc). We are now working to move away from that, but it's still a work in progress.

06:34 pm August 20, 2019

My advice is to acknowledge that you still retain a stage-gate, even if the waterfall approach has been largely condensed within a Sprint cycle. The challenge is one of limiting work in progress instead, so items are completed early and often.

Regardless of whether or not a Product Owner checks acceptance criteria, he or she ought to be assured that the emerging work is “Done”. Many teams provide that assurance by writing suitable tests before the development of a backlog item begins. They do just enough work to ensure that the tests pass, and then try to improve their solution without the tests failing.

The resulting test harness can provide a measure of assurance. It might reasonably be seen as part of the increment, and its production as a necessary condition of “Done”.