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Product Owner miscategorized items in SW backlog quadrants

Last post 09:20 pm March 29, 2023 by Nicholas Gabrichidze
3 replies
01:49 pm March 29, 2023

Hello :)

I'm working as a manager, and I've just came to know that the PO of one of my teams assigned some work to the wrong backlog quadrant.

This feedback came from one of the SW Architects who found odd that his work/input (technical debt) couldn't be planned by the team (since the quadrant was already full with higher priority items).

My question is: how to prevent this from happening?

As a manager, I don't think it's a good idea to go over the priorities, categories, planning, etc., with the PO. I believe that this would be micromanaging.

Any experience/ideas?

04:56 pm March 29, 2023

As a manager, I don't think it's a good idea to go over the priorities, categories, planning, etc., with the PO. I believe that this would be micromanaging.

I agree. But as a Scrum professional, it might be a good idea to explore why the Product Backlog includes quadrants. Rather than enhancing transparency, this strange construct appears to be reducing it.

08:05 pm March 29, 2023

What is a "backlog quadrant"?  Never heard that method of managing a backlog before.  However, it is the Product Owner's responsibility to manage the Product Backlog in any manner that they feel is most beneficial.  You mentioned a Product Owner, an Architect and a Manager (yourself).  But you never mentioned a Scrum Master.  As a Scrum professional, I would advise you to discuss this with the Product Owner and Scrum Master.  The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner with techniques to manage the Product Backlog but it is ultimately the Product Owner's decision on how to do so. In order for the Product Owner to successful and to enable the Scrum Team to be successful the organization should honor the Product Owner's decisions as being best for the Product. 

As a Manager, are you fulfilling any of the 3 roles/responsibilities (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developer) that are described in the Scrum Guide? Note that these are not job titles, they are roles/responsibilities that are needed in order for Scrum to be successful.

Again, it is the Product Owner's decision on how to manage the Product Backlog, to order it in a manner that will make the best use of the Developers time to deliver value, to provide visibility into how the backlog is ordered, and why it is ordered in that manner.  If you or anyone else (SW Architects for example) have questions they should be directed to the Product Owner so that they can carry out their responsibilities. It might be that they do not fully understand the value that will be derived by doing the work in question and have ordered it incorrectly.  But you might also find out that the items ordered above the ones in question do have more value and impact.  

My question is: how to prevent this from happening?

Simple.  Stop talking in circles around the Product Owner.  Take your concerns to them, provide them information that they may not have currently.  Use empirical thinking to arrive at a decision.  In case you are not familiar with empiricism, it is a philosophy that knowledge comes from experience and that is no inherent knowledge. In order to gain knowledge actions need to be taken.  To put it simply ... do something, inspect the results, gather new information, adapt if necessary, repeat.

09:20 pm March 29, 2023

As of previous answer things are simple.

If you do Scrum(an in Agile mentality its not you OBLIGATION to do so, if you feel that it does not suit and benefit you any more), then roles are very clear

Product owner owns the Product backlog. Its HIS THING. Hypothetically he can throw it out of the window if he wants to.

Scrum team(all of you) own the scrum backlog

You decide what to put there, and what to do with it.

So basically if actions of PO does not fit it your interest and vision, an only way to respond is CONVINSING Product owner to act differently.

If you convince him things will go your way

If you don't then act in a framework of Agile, and ADAPT to the PO

Well, sorry, but here we have a PERIOD.

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