On several occasions Team members find it very difficult to sell their ideas to the Product Owner. The Team has a strong desire to undertake certain piece of design, development or testing related items. It wants to shape the order of the Product Backlog, based on the work it deems very important. However, it struggles to sell their ideas to the Product Owner. The Team may have some solid reasons, like technical debt is increasing and needs to be addressed. But at times, these reasons prove to be less than compelling to the Product Owner.
The Team members become frustrated. They think they have highlighted crucial issues that must be addressed immediately. They want to do it so that the future development of the product becomes easier.
The Product Owner might not agree with the Team. She may have more pressing business needs to tackle. Or the Team and the Product Owner are just not communicating very well. The Team has repeatedly pushed for its ideas to be reflected at the top of the Product Backlog, but to no avail. Frustrated, the Team decides to do something about this situation on its own.
The Team decides to create a ‘technical product backlog’. It is a separate ‘product backlog’ from the Product Backlog managed by the Product Owner. Now they have a hidden ‘product backlog’.
The Team doesn’t remain transparent. The ‘technology product backlog’ is maintained by the Team, not by the Product Owner. The Team selects some items from the actual Product Backlog. But they also work on some items from the ‘technology product backlog’ without telling the Product Owner.
The Product Owner doesn’t know which items the Team is working on. The Product Owner doesn’t know the business value delivered by the items defined in the ‘technology product backlog’. She doesn’t even know such a backlog exists. The link between the technology and the business gets broken.
The Team does itself a disservice by creating a separate ‘backlog’. The reason the Team created a ‘technology product backlog’ was to enable quick and effective value delivery in the upcoming Sprints. But as a result the Team loses the connection with the business value. No single person owns the value equation anymore. Ordering of the Product Backlog becomes meaningless. Transparency, a crucial Scrum and Agile ingredient, goes out of the window.