We work in a software project with Kanban. My role is a product owner/technical product owner. The customer have always new requirements and one of the stakeholders is doing the tester role so he's writing bug tickets in the board and with the customer are always reprioritizing new issues. As a product owner I try always to make sure all tickets are clear and the priorities are also clear. But the Stakeholder is trying always to control the developers and bypass me. Like calling them directly, trying to push new tickets without discussing with me..and lastly he want to know why some developers take some kinds of technical tickets and others not(my response is because that depends of the expertise of every developer in the team), is he allowed to ask such question?

I really don't like this behavior since they are not letting me do my job and also too controlling? I'm I wrong? If no how should I behave? Thanks

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This question sounds like a Workplace question, but it's not an uncommon one in project management. The answer is both simple and complex at the same time: You need to enforce appropriate boundaries within your scope of authority and the details of your contract.

Look to the Contract or Form a New Collaborative Working Agreement

Part of any professional engagement is the contracting process. This should already have some language in there about how a customer and vendor are expected to work together. If not, then you have to form a working agreement collaboratively.

Perhaps more importantly, you are the Product Owner. That's a defined role in Scrum, and may be a defined role in your organization. Where is your leadership team in this picture? Have they empowered you to enforce contractual terms or develop working agreements with the customer? Are they providing you with enough support and sufficient delegated authority to structure the engagement in a way that works better for the team?

If the answer to all of those things is "no," then you need to talk to your leadership team. Project managers and Product Owners are often in the position of needing to lead through influence rather than authority. If that's your situation, then anything you can't successfully influence needs to be escalated to someone in your organization who does have sufficient authority to address the problem.

Evaluate Why You Can't Resolve This Yourself

There's no silver bullet here. The tone of your question strongly implies that you lack one or more of the following:

  • sufficient influence with the customer;
  • sufficient communication skills to address this directly with the customer in a constructive way;
  • sufficient gravitas or self-confidence to address this yourself without external support;
  • sufficient experience in the role to push back on something you consider detrimental to the project; or
  • sufficient leadership support to assist you with something outside your scope of authority or personal capabilities.

None of this items are meant criticisms of you personally. However, it is fundamentally a contractual or communications failure, and these are the characteristics usually required to resolve situations like this. If you can't resolve the problem yourself for one of the reasons above, or for any other reason, then you need to ask the leadership team above you for assistance.

Getting Support or Transferring Risk to Senior Leadership

Supporting you, providing you with clear direction on how the company wants to address the issue, or accepting the risks to the project inherent in unmanaged interruptions and scope changes is exactly what leadership is supposed to do. If your leadership team allows the customer to derail the process after you've informed them of a problem, the responsibility is ultimately theirs.

  • Thanks Jacobs for your helps it help a lot. I already tried several times to change that myself, over meeting, over emails... but nothing change and I have also mentioned that to my manager (one time the customer wanted to do a daily with the developers and I refused). It seems for me that my managers fear loosing the contract with the customer that's why there is no enough action from their side. We are really doing a good job as development team but I don't know why the customer want always to push with this non sense mentality. Commented Apr 6 at 21:25

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