How to engage Product Owners?

One of the major challenges the agile teams face is the disengagement of product owners with the agile teams. If there are no proper interactions of product owners with the teams, teams will be wondering what to deliver, whom to approach in case of clarifications, and the end product may not meet the stakeholders’ requirements.

Product owners have to be engaged so that their teams deliver the right increments at righteous times. Here are a few inputs on how to get product owners more engaged with the teams.

1. Clearly define Roles & Responsibilities of Product Owners

Product owner roles & responsibilities have to be clearly listed out and communicated. Product owners should not be burdened with other works which will keep them away from the teams.

2. Identify Proxy Product Owners

If a product owner is overloaded, identify individuals who will act as proxy product owners in the teams. The proxy product owners should be given independence and decision making authority. The teams should not feel that proxy product owner decisions contrasts with those of product owner.

3. Identify Chief Product Owners

If there is more than one team, identify a chief product owner and product owners of the other teams should consult chief product owner in taking major decisions. Product owners should have enough decision making authority so that the teams are not given contrasting inputs.

4. Segregate Product Owners, Feature Owners, Component Owners

Few teams may be only working in certain features/modules and product owners of these teams should be classified as Feature/Module owners. Certain teams may be working only on components and their product owners are classified as Component owners. Feature owners and component owners should interact with product owners and get their product backlog ready accordingly.

5. Freeze volatility of requirements

Requirements being highly volatile may be one another factor which will disengage product owners with the teams. Product owners should ensure that they get the right vision of the product and should minimize the interventions to the teams. They should clearly understand the market requirements and identify the right sprint lengths which avoids disruptions to the teams.

These recommendations will help teams in getting more engaged product owners

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