Skip to main content

Boosting Product Owner Engagement with your Scrum Team

How involved is your Product Owner when it comes to your Scrum team?

One of my Pega Scrum teams, like many other teams in Cambridge, has had great success by having our Product Owner (PO) join us in the team room. In our case, the PO was fairly new and spent a lot of time in our team room coming up to speed. His presence has allowed for a beneficial two-way dynamic: he's better able to explain the product requirements to us and the team is better equipped to answer his questions. The PO is taking a more active role in reviewing stories as they approach completion, and if appropriate, running them by other stakeholders earlier to ensure we're on track.

The team has also shifted their practice so that the PO is the one to close out the feature stories on our Scrum board, instead of the developer who did the work. This has allowed us to take the standard INVEST model and evolve it into an INVEST-D model for our stories, with the D standing for demonstrable, or the commonly referenced Demonstratable in the Agile world. Based on an off-the-cuff question, "How would we demonstrate this?" during sprint planning, the PO now tracks a Sprint task for "Create Demo Script" on our feature stories. With greater stakeholder participation in the Sprint Review, there’s a more narrative flow to the demonstration.

Several months later, the team continued to expand on the PO’s presence by adopting The Three Amigos approach to pre-defining user stories. (And no, to the best of my knowledge, Three Amigos is not related to to the Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase movie.)

Originated by George Dinwiddie, The Three Amigos strategy goes beyond having the PO establish the story’s “As a [role], I want [something] so that [some outcome],” by having a developer and a quality-lead engaged from the start. This structure better ensures that implementation and quality are considered as early as possible, in addition to the value proposition presented by the PO. Triangulating value, implementation, and quality creates greater clarity ahead of presenting the story to the wider team during standard Sprint refinement.

As a result of the PO’s increased presence, alignment has tightened in the team’s delivery. The improvements continue to build — both incrementally and iteratively. The closer relationship between PO and team has allowed for the PO to participate even more in the up-front defining of the work and its final delivery.

For reference, INVEST is an acronym for what constitutes a good, well-formed user story:

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable
  • Estimatable
  • Small
  • Testable

 

Have you used similar methods? Share your ideas on the PegaBuzz community.

 

About the author

With interests like Tai Chi and Stand-up Paddleboarding, Tom’s always been attracted to concepts of flow and balance.  As an Agilist at Pegasystems, Tom applies these interests directly as a Scrum Master with our Engineering teams, and fosters organizational excellence throughout Pega. He is engaged with training and mentoring Scrum and Agile practices with other groups throughout the company. Tom has been a Certified Scrum Master for over 4 years, and is also a certified as an Agile Facilitator/Coach, as well as a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Agilist.