Updated: Jun 15
“Two heads are better than one.”
So does the Proxy Product Owner.
We have learned all the roles and responsibilities in previous articles related to SAFe. The description also included the product owners. But then the questions arise what is a proxy product owner and why are they required when we have product owners.
Have you ever seen a scenario where you have a product owner for a team? But team members say that they are not able to solve the issue related to decision-making because of the product owner's unavailability of time? Yes, most of the scrum masters and team members will say they have seen this many times. Product owners don’t do this on purpose or lack of understanding of their responsibility but, due to organizational culture and structure they are working in makes them so busy.
So what is a solution in such situations?
Here comes the proxy product owners in the picture.
Proxy the word itself represent delegation, representative and agent, etc. Proxy product owners are the persons who represent the product owners in a team but they don’t completely work as product owners.
Role of Proxy Product Owners
The proxy product owners work as a representative of a product owner. They handle all the documentation, maintenance and define the requirements of a development process. We can say that the proxy product owners are the communication link between product owners and stakeholders, serving them as a business adviser and also a link between team members, scrum masters, and product owners in some cases when the product owner is not available. The basic responsibilities include
Handle product backlog
Create User stories
Supports in requirement engineering
Building project roadmap
Ensures teams understand the details and all are on the same page
Keeps priority aligned and in line.
Scenarios in Which Proxy Product Owner is Needed
The requirement can be divided into two forms first
1. Starting off the new project
The unavailability of product owner full time- Product owner is not a part-time job but when you are assigned part-time on it then proxy product owner is surely needed as support.
Product owners Schedule is full- When you have the required skills, knowledge, and understanding but still you can’t manage time then you need a proxy product owner.
When issues in building and managing the product backlog occur regularly- when you are new in the product owner role or have issues with managing backlog regularly due to your busy schedule then proxy product owner is needed.
2. Development is in progress
When team members are unable to understand the requirement- When you assign a small task to the team and they deliver completely different results from the requirement. The proxy product owner will require to keep a close eye on the process from start to end.
When the time required is more than expected-When as a product owner you estimated the time for a task but observe team’s taking more than proxy product owner will help you in splitting and dividing the functionality and task to better estimate the time required.
When budget is exceeded- When you need to spend more than planned and observe that this should not be the case.
As we have said before even though the proxy product owner can represent the product owner but they are still incapable of making all the decisions a product owner can take. In such cases how can we handle it?
The main point or hack in this is focusing on what to solve than on how to solve it. As a team and scrum master help a proxy product owner to make the prioritized decisions. Let them help to have authority in such cases. Before helping them be clear on questions like
What level of authority do we need for them and why?
What Accountability we as a team can assume in return?
Once you all are sure of answers to these questions move towards the next step and face the product owner and explain the situation to them. Ask them some questions as
What are their concerns in providing such authority to proxy product owner?
What as a team we can provide to satisfy those concerns?
What communication do they accept from the team to keep them informed?
Even though the proxy product owner seems not required so much in a team due to less authority but we must know that the lean-agile and scaling framework is well thought out by a lot of experienced people. Having a proxy product owner with us we can say, “you get better when you have the right people to support you.”
About Advance Agility
We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.
Connect with us at advanceagility.com to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together.
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