WHAT…The Product Owner ISN’T The Customer
So it appears I may have been doing the right thing wrong all this time…Scrum talks about a Product Owner role and I’ve always had teams setup so the the customer (one or more actual people) fulfils this role. Recent discussions on the Scrum mailing list seem to say this isn’t the case.
Personally I’d rather the customer takes control of the product they’re paying to have built. Having an intermediary within IT making decisions on their behalf seems like a problem waiting to happen. In fact I’ve witnessed this first hand in a previous company (remaining nameless to protect the guilty) and mess that ensued.
The IT based Product Owner gets IT based goals and objectives and their primary objective is related to the software and not the organisational value that should be the ultimate goal. You got a business problem – you can guarantee the Product Owner will come up with an IT solution to solve it. Then you take a less-than-optimal-business-process and enshrine it in some software that is far more costly and complex to fix and becomes more difficult to use.
The closer I’ve had the customer to the development team the more successful the projects I’ve been involved in have been. Maybe it’s just coincidence but then I don’t believe in coincidence….
Sure it may seem impossible to change your organisation to adapt to getting the customer closer to the development team…that’s fine if you like living with pain. Have the courage to change the organisation and see the difference it makes. Agile/Lean don’t solve organisational issue they merely make them much more visible!