2 Product Owners sharing 1 dev. team

Last post 03:48 pm February 1, 2022
by Timothy Baffa
7 replies
Author
Messages
07:46 pm January 19, 2022

How common is it for there to be 2 PO's (responsible for different products) that "share" one engineering team?

How effective is this?

09:10 pm January 19, 2022

I'm a Technical Program Manager (TPM) and am supporting a squad of 6 engineers. The thing is, there's another TPM who is in charge of a different product, but also utilizes the same engineering squad.

 

11:33 pm January 19, 2022

This statement comes from the Scrum Guides section that describes the Scrum Team.

The fundamental unit of Scrum is a small team of people, a Scrum Team. The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies. It is a cohesive unit of professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal.

Those three entities are not job titles so if your organization is using Technical Program Managers to fulfill the Product Owner role there is no problem.  

I have never seen a situation where one group of Developers were able to successfully work on two products under the influence of two Product Owners.  I have experienced a single Product Owner work with more than one group of developers to support a single product.  Having anyone split their focus across multiple products has resulted in conflicts in prioritization and loss of productivity due to context switching. I'm taking the fact that you are asking this question to imply that you are already encountering difficulties. 

How common is it for there to be 2 PO's (responsible for different products) that "share" one engineering team?

Unfortunately this is more common that it should be. However, I have never personally experienced or witnessed it to be successful.  

11:34 pm January 19, 2022

However effective it is, you can expect that effectiveness to be compromised by reduced focus.

09:06 pm January 31, 2022

Thank you so much for your input! I will certainly keep this in mind and bring it up to my leadership.

09:54 am February 1, 2022

Hello Eric, 

it might be late to add my 5 cents.

My suggestion would be just to play this game as described here to understand what happens in your environment.

https://www.scrum.nl/blog/the-power-of-focus/

And after that to decide whether what you practice really help your developers, and if they are able to work efficiently.

 

Best Regards

Alex

02:26 pm February 1, 2022

Depends on POs responsibility are and organizational drive , kind of and amount of work POs are doing.

However it will definitely reduce the focus , reduce the dev time of dev team.

Seems an Anti - pattern.

03:48 pm February 1, 2022

Agree with the previous advice and comments about loss of focus and context-switching.

Changing this dynamic certainly doesn't happen overnight, but one change/experiment you may want to try in the interim is to periodically meet with this other TPM and agree on which of you can "have" the engineering team for the next 1+ sprints.   It is better to not have the team work on both products in the same sprint, since that increases the likelihood of splitting the team into two.   

Such an approach supports focus, and reduces the capacity drag of context-switching.   However, it is still not the best solution, which would be to identify a second engineering team dedicated to support the 2nd product.

Good luck!