Who has the final Say ? Product owner or Customer

Last post 03:49 pm February 9, 2021
by Nitin Mukesh
7 replies
02:24 pm February 4, 2021

During a review session, a customer representative is concerned that a story fails to satisfy the scope of work. However, the product owner declares that the scope of work is complete.
What should be done with this story and what would you do?

  • A. Mark it as incomplete and prioritize it for the next sprint
  • B. Mark it as complete, since the product owner has the final say
06:18 pm February 8, 2021

The PO should have further discussions with the customer so that they come to an agreement of what the scope is, as after all, the customer is paying for the work, and its the POs job to extract as much information from them in regards to their requirements (Voice of the Customer).  

08:49 pm February 8, 2021

The Scrum Guide says:

For Product Owners to succeed, the entire organization must respect their decisions. <...> Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by trying to convince the Product Owner.

09:09 pm February 8, 2021

As pointed out above, the Product Owner must be respected as he or she is accountable for maximizing value. Value won't be maximized until the product Backlog is released, therefore empiricism will provide the necessary validated learning.  

09:10 pm February 8, 2021

Sorry I meant to state value won't be maximized until the Product Backlog item (the story in your case) is released.

09:24 pm February 8, 2021

Is customer part of the organization? I would say no. The PO clearly have to work with customer about this concern.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

~Agile Manifesto

Whatever the PO decides as a result, organization must respect this.

@Shehab why anyone bother either it is marked as complete or not? What is the difference between leaving "story" open and addressing customer concerns in it, or closing this "story" and writing new one to address customer feedback?

Without more context to dive, IMHO just do what suits you the most, as long as the collaboration between you and the customer remains focused on valuable interactions.

If I was the paying customer, then I would want to be part of decision making and development process. Especially when I felt that my expectations were missed and my voice is not taken seriously.


12:58 pm February 9, 2021

Not sure about your set-up. Is the PO from customer side or from your organization?

If he is from customer, I as the Scrum Master of the team would refer to Scrum that the PO has the final word. So if PO said the PBI was delivered, it is. Other stakeholders then have to talk to PO.

If you have a similar setting we have, where the PO is from our organization, I would still refer to Scrum and that they approved the PO with all his responsibilities and powers. Then I would go into the PBI and check if the wording of PBI was met and if the PBI meets requirements. If so, the customer has no reason to say it was not complete. If they would like a change, it will be within another PBI for the next Sprint.


Could it be that there are financial reasons? Do you have a contract where you are paid by done stories or done story points? Some agile contracts are built that way and may lead to the situation where the customer tries to have changes added to the same PBI, keeping it open, instead of closing and creating a new one.

03:49 pm February 9, 2021

PO will have the final say FOR the Scrum team.

The customer will have the final say in terms of business, whether the customer accepts or rejects the feature/functionality delivered. The customer is above PO and it's PO fault for not verifying the feature/functionality with the customer before the ST starts implementing it.