All articles

Should the Product Owner Attend Daily Scrum, Product Owner and Team Engagement

September 24, 2012

One of the most commonly asked question by the Product Owners (and at times other Scrum Team members) is, should the Product Owner attend the Daily Scrum? And one of the most hotly debated one is, should the Product Owner attend the Retrospective meeting? These and other such questions are related to a rather important question.

How should the Product Owners engage with an Agile teams? How much time should the Product Owners spend with the team and which meetings should she must attend? Let’s break these questions down in different categories.

  • Product Owner in the Daily Scrum
  • Product Owner in the Spring Planning Meeting
  • Product Owner engagement during the Sprint
  • Product Owner in the Sprint Review Meeting
  • Product Owner in the Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Product Owner in the Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum is a meeting for the Team to inspect the plan it has created during the Spring Planning meeting and take any necessary corrective actions before it gets too late. The Daily Scrum is for the people doing the work, so they can work together to ensure that they remain on-track to meet their Sprint Goal, or take any other action necessary in case they feel they won’t be able to meet the Sprint Goal this time around.

The Daily Scrum is not a status sharing meeting. It’s not the meeting for the Product Owner to get status update from the team. In case she needs such information, she can always take a look at the Sprint Burndown or talk to the Team members, but not during the Daily Scrum. As the Daily Scrum is run within a tight time-box of 15 minutes, if the Product Owner, or other stakeholders keep asking about the status, the meaning of the Daily Scrum gets lost. It becomes a status sharing meeting, instead of an event where the team can effectively inspect and adapt on daily basis.

However, if the Product Owner feels value in attending the Daily Scrum, she may do so, without interrupting (i.e. talking) the team and the rhythm of the meeting.

Product Owner in the Sprint Planning Meeting

The Product Owner has a crucial role to play in the Sprint Planning meeting. She describes the Product Backlog Items (user stories or requirements in other formats) to the team. She works together with the team to ensure that she shares a common understanding of the scope of the Product Backlog Items (user stories etc). They define and refine the acceptance criteria for the user stories that the team will work on during the Sprint. They define (or refine) the Definition of Done to further improve the level of transparency in terms of what the Product Owner expects and what the team understands.

Product Owner participation in a Sprint Planning meeting is a must, otherwise the team may pick items with low value, or no value at all. This leads to waste, confusion and wasted opportunities.

Product Owner engagement during the Sprint

The Product Owner will need to spend time with the customers and project stakeholders during the Sprint. But she should remain available to the team during the Sprint. The exact level of engagement depends on the maturity of the project, is it a new project in which case the Product Owner will need to spend more time with the team or has the project has been in flight and the team understand the product domain rather well.

In a nutshell, the Product Owner should be able to respond to the questions the team may have during the Sprint in a way that it doesn’t hamper the progress of the team during the Sprint.

Product Owner in the Sprint Review Meeting

The Product Owner has the authority to accept or reject work, of course, in the light of the agreed Product Backlog. Sprint Review provides the last opportunity to the Product Owner to accept or reject work. The Scrum team (the Product Owner, the team and the Scrum Master) and stakeholders discuss changes in the product direction, market or competitive landscape during the Sprint Review. This discussion leads to an updated Product Backlog.

Thus the Product Owner participation in a Sprint Review meeting is crucial.

Product Owner in the Sprint Retrospective Meeting

The Scrum Team (the Product Owner, the team and the Scrum Master) works together to discuss how the whole product development process is working and how Agile and Scrum is implemented. They talk about the improvement ideas and select a few ideas to implement in the upcoming Sprint. This helps the whole Scrum Team improve continuously.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the Scrum Team to improve the way it plans the Sprints, manages and updates the Product Backlog, grooms the Product Backlog, the way it engages with the Product Owner and stakeholders and the way it conducts Sprint Reviews if the Product Owner is not present in the Retrospective meetings. The Scrum Team needs support from the Product Owner to get resources it needs. The Product Owner doesn’t need to be present the whole time though, e.g. when the Scrum team talks about engineering practice improvements etc.

However, it is crucial the Product Owner participates in the Retrospective meetings in a meaningful way.

Learn more about the Product Owner role, Scrum and Agile in one of Scrum Certification Courses.

© Faisal Mahmood

All articles