Proxy – Product Owner (business representative)
The product owner is key stakeholder in agile team, the part of responsibility to set a product vision and provides direction to build right product increment in iterations though prioritized product backlog. This works excellent when teams are co-located and single team; what if team built based on below scenarios?
- Team is distributed and Product Owner is located far from majority of the team.
- Scaled team: Multiple scrum teams interact with product owner for product backlog details or clarifications and want PO to be part of their team’s ceremonies.
- When product development is done by multiple vendor teams located in different geographies.
- Product Owner is more business savvy, has low interest or don’t want to involve in IT systems delivery.
- Product Owners are more business savvy, have multiple or cross role responsibilities like Sales / Marketing /Product Manager, etc. So they do not have enough time on-hand, to focus on current features in development.
All these scenarios are challenges of product owner (PO) which impacts his/her duties, this is when one or more Proxy-Product Owners (PPO) are required, but still need one product owner responsible for the whole product. The proxy-product role will also resolve mistrust, miscommunication, misalignment, and slow progress.
Proxy-Product Owner works well only when the member has deep understanding of the product and fully aware of Agile way of working and related tools. A business analyst can take Proxy-product owner responsibilities, as he/she does most of the product backlog grooming work and answers queries from the team on a daily basis is a proxy for the actual product owner who decides the product backlog prioritization and accepts or rejects work results at the end of the iteration.
There can be different setups when working in distributed team, below pictures show simple setup of outsourcing engagement where PO will be client role and Proxy-PO will either from client or IT vendor.