Juggling Projects


A Product Owner is responsible for the contents and the prioritization of the contents of the backlog. Now let's look at the real world where you are often lucky to get an hour a day with the Product Owner, as they are busy running their existing business. In many situations, it is the Scrum Master who makes the updates, guides the Product Owner through the process (especially since many POs have had no formal training on their role), influences the prioritization decisions by explaining some of the impacts/tradeoffs of prioritization decisions (along with the technical team members). These can be seen as some aspects of "managing." Note that managing does not mean "owning." But even that explanation does not go far enough --> if you are a Scrum Master of a project with an external customer (meaning a separate company) then *someone* needs to manage the scope of the contractual commitments. Depending upon how your contract was written, that may require a 1-page change order at the start of each iteration detailing the stories (scope) that is being authorized for the upcoming iteration. You cannot ignore the legal obligations of the agreement, and to ignore the paper trail authorizing scope changes leaves you open to claims of negligence and litigation. (I've seen it before in some of my troubled project recovery work. There are lots of troubled agile projects out there where newly-minted CSMs failed to take basic financial management or scope management steps --largely because they were not mentioned in their CSM training -- and left their company open to lawsuits.)