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Johanna Rothman helps managers and teams solve problems and deliver products. Her most recent book is Manage your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects. You can read her blogs and other writings at jrothman.com Johanna is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 129 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

What Team Does the Product Owner/Responsible Person Belong To?

08.29.2011
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In my post, When You Have No Product Owner at All, I said

That’s because agile needs a responsible person who is not part of the cross-functional technical team to rank the backlog so the team knows the order of the work. Without that person, the team does not know what to do.

I’ve had an offline conversation about what team does that person belong to? In my perfect world, that person belongs to a cross-functional team of their own that hashes out what they want. Then, that person brings the information to the technical team. This responsible person works with the technical team. Is this person a member of the team? Or just works with the team? What is team membership?

I suppose if there was a single customer (I have never been in this position), that single customer would sit with the team. But I have only had the experience of more people who want lots of features from the team or teams. That responsible person needs to take the ideas, organize the funnel, manage the wants and needs, as a person who lives on a cross-functional team.

But hey, it’s Monday, and I could be wrong. So, please, tell me what you think.

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Timo Lihtinen replied on Wed, 2012/03/14 - 1:34pm

Whenever possible the PO should be part of the team. I’ve worked on smaller teams where this is the case and on larger teams where there is one product owner for multiple teams with BA’s on each team to handle day-to-day work.

Overall, I think people are too focused on structure, as in trying to apply existing roles and teams to an ‘agile process’. At the end of the day the ‘team’ is everybody involved in the project working towards a shared goal and sadly I don’t think a lot of companies really get that.

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