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Off-site POs and their (in)attendance record

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  • Simon Kirk
    Hi all. Following the recent thread about retrospectives, Eben mentioned about PO presence in them. This reminded me about a long-standing worry I ve had
    Message 1 of 2 , May 1, 2008
      Hi all.

      Following the recent thread about retrospectives, Eben mentioned about
      PO presence in them. This reminded me about a long-standing worry I've
      had (probably the same for most other bespoke software houses like
      us): that the PO is not on-site and is far enough away that they
      cannot be on-site more than once a week at best.

      For starters a note of what I hope is wisdom (if anybody disagrees,
      please let me know because I'd love to know your reasons):

      I believe that the ideal circumstance is that the PO would be
      regularly co-located with the team (iirc somebody wrote that it's best
      if they're not right there in the team space, but literally just off
      to the side, so they can get involved, but are not buried under the
      team's feet).

      Sadly as said, not the case for us.

      One of the biggest resulting problems is lack of communication: POs
      miss out on the chance for the osmotic communication process in the
      team room: they can't overhear things of importance. Therefore I've
      suggested to the team to try thinking as if the PO IS in the room at
      all times: In other words they could potentially overhear all those
      little problems that happen during the day, technical or otherwise.

      This means that if we have a problem of some sort where normally the
      team would be tempted to just try and fix it, without reporting it to
      the PO, to remember that normally the PO would have overheard the
      problem and known about it anyway, so rather than just fix it, report
      it to them too (via email, phone, whatever).

      Yes as SM I could do this for them, but that adds further overhead of
      me letting the team members involved that I'm going to be telling the
      PO, etc etc. I prefer the team and PO communicate openly rather than
      relying on me as a conduit.

      What do people think of this?


      Finally, my retrospective worry: Since my POs can only do one day a
      week, they can therefore only be with us long enough for a backlog
      grooming meeting mid-sprint (working fine) and one day for planning.
      As such the planning day is spent doing the sprint review first (of
      course without stake holders present, another worrying factor for me -
      I have to rely on the PO spreading the knowledge of completed work
      throughout their organisations) then four hours worth of planning (we
      do two-week sprints).

      This means the PO is not able to attend the retrospective: We do that
      before the planning day. So, how bad do people think this is? I think
      there's a lot of things that would benefit the PO by being at the
      retrospective, so should I and how might I go some way to making up
      that benefit to them despite their inability to attend?

      Cheers,
      Simon
    • Robrecht David
      Somewhere after the turn of the century I was working for a product development company. The team I was on was creating a new product for a customer in London
      Message 2 of 2 , May 8, 2008

        Somewhere after the turn of the century I was working for a product development company.

        The team I was on was creating a new product for a customer in London while we were all in Brussels (in the area anyhow)

         

        What worked for us is that I took on the role of PO (we called it proxy customer then) for the team. My task was to coordinate with the users and their PM and to know enough in order to take on the role of PO. It was crucial to the team’s performance that I played the role with confidence and never exposed any doubt to the team. They could ask any questions and I would give them the answers they needed. I was also responsible for giving the demo at the users site after each sprint.

         

        I would liaison as much as I could with the customer, going over if necessary. But some decisions I had to take myself (on the spot) using the available information.
        Whether I was right was soon to be revealed at the next demo.

         

        Did I make wrong decisions (not the decisions the key users would have chosen).
        YES, but the majority of my answers was right and this was beneficial to the sense of rhythm. A false assumption from my part implemented with confidence proved to be better than leaving those uncertainties with the team.

         

        Did I always prioritize as the customer would have done.

         NO, but on average this levelled out.

         

        So, if possible you could try to make somebody from your own organization the on-site PO who can liaison with the PO on the phone, by mail, go there,… leaving the team to do what they do best and having someone at hand to provide immediate feedback.

         

        Would that be an option for you or your organization?

         

        Kind Regards

         

        Robrecht DAVID

        (Robrecht is my first name, David is my family name)

         

         

        From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Simon Kirk
        Sent: donderdag 01 mei 2008 09:50
        To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [SPAM] [scrumdevelopment] Off-site POs and their (in)attendance record

         

        Hi all.

        Following the recent thread about retrospectives, Eben mentioned about
        PO presence in them. This reminded me about a long-standing worry I've
        had (probably the same for most other bespoke software houses like
        us): that the PO is not on-site and is far enough away that they
        cannot be on-site more than once a week at best.

        For starters a note of what I hope is wisdom (if anybody disagrees,
        please let me know because I'd love to know your reasons):

        I believe that the ideal circumstance is that the PO would be
        regularly co-located with the team (iirc somebody wrote that it's best
        if they're not right there in the team space, but literally just off
        to the side, so they can get involved, but are not buried under the
        team's feet).

        Sadly as said, not the case for us.

        One of the biggest resulting problems is lack of communication: POs
        miss out on the chance for the osmotic communication process in the
        team room: they can't overhear things of importance. Therefore I've
        suggested to the team to try thinking as if the PO IS in the room at
        all times: In other words they could potentially overhear all those
        little problems that happen during the day, technical or otherwise.

        This means that if we have a problem of some sort where normally the
        team would be tempted to just try and fix it, without reporting it to
        the PO, to remember that normally the PO would have overheard the
        problem and known about it anyway, so rather than just fix it, report
        it to them too (via email, phone, whatever).

        Yes as SM I could do this for them, but that adds further overhead of
        me letting the team members involved that I'm going to be telling the
        PO, etc etc. I prefer the team and PO communicate openly rather than
        relying on me as a conduit.

        What do people think of this?

        Finally, my retrospective worry: Since my POs can only do one day a
        week, they can therefore only be with us long enough for a backlog
        grooming meeting mid-sprint (working fine) and one day for planning.
        As such the planning day is spent doing the sprint review first (of
        course without stake holders present, another worrying factor for me -
        I have to rely on the PO spreading the knowledge of completed work
        throughout their organisations) then four hours worth of planning (we
        do two-week sprints).

        This means the PO is not able to attend the retrospective: We do that
        before the planning day. So, how bad do people think this is? I think
        there's a lot of things that would benefit the PO by being at the
        retrospective, so should I and how might I go some way to making up
        that benefit to them despite their inability to attend?

        Cheers,
        Simon

         

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