The Product Owner Advocate – Part 3

 

This is the third post in a series introducing  the Product Owner Advocate as a beneficial role on a project using scrum.  Especially if your product owner doesn’t have the time to commit to scrum. Here is how we defined the role briefly:

The product owner advocate is a role that allows a business analyst to provide the TIME necessary to support a scrum team, while keeping the AUTHORITY with the product owner. This BA represents the interests of the product owner to the scrum team and ‘advocates’ for the product. They are committed to the product and are invested in spending time with the product owner, to understand their priorities, desires, biases, etc., as well as the scrum team where they represent the product owner.

In today’s post let’s look at the third and fourth in a series of responsibilities and see how the product owner advocate would work with the product owner and the scrum team.

Explaining the backlog to the scrum team for estimating

There is an ongoing responsibility in scrum that the team should ‘scrub the backlog’.  This allows the team to understand the backlog items that are not in the current sprint, and to estimate those items so that planning future sprints is simpler.  The advocate would be the primary resource for the team as they are scrubbing the backlog. The time the advocate has spent with the product owner to prioritize and define the backlog could then be translated to the team during the scrubbing exercises. Many questions the team may have regarding the backlog could be handled by the advocate. The product owner could then be consulted on more serious or difficult questions rather than have to work through the minutiae.

Providing clarification and detail during sprint planning and the sprint

As with backlog scrubbing, the advocate could be the primary resource for the team during planning and especially during the sprint. Quick questions could be asked and basic decisions made allowing the team to focus on the product. Difficult questions could then be taken to the product owner for feedback by the advocate.

Some may argue that this is breaking the rhythm of scrum and that the product owner would need to be available to make a decision or answer a question right away, and that having to go ask will just delay the activity.  I would argue that anything that the advocate would need to take to the product owner would probably need thought and discussion with others to resolve and the product owner would probably need time to consider the question even if they were fully engaged. 

Again, we are assuming that the product owner has limited time to spend as product owner but still has product owner authority.

In the next post we’ll look at:

  • Participating is sprint reviews

  • Participating in sprint retrospectives

  • Representing the product to the organization

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