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After reading In an agile consultancy, is the Client the Product Owner??, I still can't tell apart if the Product Owner is in fact an Stakeholder, or if it is someone from the software company who assumes that role.

Points mentioned in said post included:

The primary role of a product owner is to represent the needs and desires of the stakeholder community to an agile delivery team

And yeah, we are perfectly clear on what (s)he does but not on where does (s)he comes from.

Does the Product Owner comes from the software company or from the customer?

In the particular case it can come from both parties, in the scenario where a customer has no idea about agile planning is it safe to assume the Product Owner will come from the software company?

  • The Product Owner is a proxy for the stakeholders. – Todd A. Jacobs Sep 4 '15 at 1:33
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Does the Product Owner comes from the software company or from the customer?

It does not matter as long as that person is good in the following aspects:

  • Availability
  • Communication
  • Vision

Most importantly, PO needs to have a vision of what is to be built and why. For this, PO should have good communication with sponsors/stakeholder and should also be able to convey that vision to the Scrum team. As Jeff Lindsey mentioned as a comment below, PO should validate customer value and reception of the product being built, ideally with hard data. PO should radiate the vision in ways that empower and create autonomy/ownership in the development team.

PO has to be available to answer questions coming from the team (ensuring almost 100% availability). A business sponsor, who occasionally comes in contact with the Scrum team, cannot act as a good PO.

The product owner could be someone from marketing, product management, or engineering teams having good understanding of the system being developed and solid domain knowledge. Having knowledge of agile planning is not a key factor for becoming a PO. The Scrum Master should coach the PO regarding the process and guide the PO about his/her responsibilities and boundaries.

Here is what Roman Pichler has to say on Scrum Alliance:

I have found three things particularly helpful for product owners: a thorough understanding of the customer needs, an active stakeholder management, and a basic knowledge of how software is developed and deployed.

  • 1
    I would add a couple things to the bulleted list that I feel are just as critical: 1. Validating the customer value and reception of the product, ideally with hard data; I've seen way too many teams follow a PO with an insular vision that results in a sub-par product. and 2. Radiating their vision in ways that empower and create autonomy/ownership for the teams following them (i.e. distributing their Ownership), and advocating for the team to get closer to the customer as well; unfortunately, some POs may hoard customer knowledge because they see it as part of their job security. – Jeff Lindsey Sep 3 '15 at 21:52
  • @JeffLindsey Thank you Jeff for adding your insightful comment. I agree with the points, let me add those to the answer. – Aziz Shaikh Sep 4 '15 at 5:05
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The product owner is not the customer. While there might be some specific cases where it can work, that would usually be very problematic. Most notably, the role of the product owner is incredibly demanding and most customer would not dedicate that kind of time. The product owner will usually come from inside of the organization (or as you put it, software company).

If you want a great explination of how the product owner interacts with the team and stakeholders (including customers), I'd take a look at Henrik Kniburg's video on youtube about product owners.

3

It totally depends on the nature of the project whether it's a business to business or business to consumer project.

-In business to business, of course the product owner shouldn't be the customer as he should be the connection channel that translates language of the customer to be understood by the technical team. He is responsible for gathering the customer vision and requirements to be sorted out in the form of user stories. and help to set the priorities of these requirements with the customer, then have them planned with the team.

-In business to consumer projects, we can consider PO to be the customer, but it's highly recommended to have someone from the business side in the organization to represent the customer to allow the PO to act as is in the business to business projects

3

Lot's of great answers and opinions already. As you're already pretty clear on the role of the PO, the bottom line in my view is:

Does the Product Owner comes from the software company or from the customer?

In an ideal world, the product owner would be someone from the customer. This ensures a direct dialogue with the customer, which makes them fully invested in the team and project. This is supported by one of the cornerstones of the Agile manifesto: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

However, most situations are far from ideal, which brings us to:

In the particular case it can come from both parties, in the scenario where a customer has no idea about agile planning is it safe to assume the Product Owner will come from the software company?

Not safe to assume, but likely to happen in real life situations.

You'll need to educate your customer on agile planning so they understand the project process. If you have one main contact at your customer, you can set him up for a role as product owner. If the budget's there, train your client.

If a customer PO is not an option, which often happens, you'll end up having an intermediary PO on your side. This PO will represent the customer / stakeholders during the project. You will need to explicitly tell the client that someone on your side is calling the shots on their behalf. The risk in this, is not working directly with the client during the project. They won't get invested as much in the project as they would working directly with the team. It will be harder to manage customer expectations, as they're not directly involved with the team. It may end up as a waterfall project front with scrum under the hood.

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The customer is the one who pays ... if the company is developing a product that will sold to different customers, then the Product Owner is the representative of OR the proxy for the paying customers.

Follow the money!

Do not allow other stakeholder take priority over paying customers. Sometimes squeaking wheels need to be starved of grease.

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The PO act on behave of the customer! So, I would say (s)he 'is' the customer. But not any/just a customer; the PO is also the owner of the product.

A good PO is involved and knows everything of the product to build... So more a super-user as a manager (boss) Think about the "functional manager".

There is a trick to find out somebody is a good PO. Ask yourself: does it hurt him (personal, later) when he set priorities wrongly? When no, search again

Therefore project-team members (tso, he supplier) are often not perfect. When the project is done, he is gone

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