Becoming a Product Owner, Part 2

Here is part 2, a week has past. I think as I write so it is a bit different in style and content than my other posts here.

It has been a hectic week, this first week as PO/SM. First of all, it was only four days thanks to national day. Then there were two new developers from Russia which meant twice as many developers as we had before, not counting me. Simple, you just tell people to pair program. That works out if they are well enough to come to work. Which they weren’t. So they russians were left a bit hanging. I had a lot to do just to keep the team running, at least according to my standards.

Note to self: people does not spontaneously pair program even if it is on the board under “continue with”. Not even when there is an evident need to introduce a new team member. On the contrary, new members are foreign so its harder to approach them.

We had sprint planning which was of course even more interesting than ever before. Apparently we do not have much of a product backlog. I am certain that we are not entirely on the right track, not even conceptually. Later, I groomed the backlog and removed stories that had been done (due to other stories overlapping) or become irrelevant.

The latter is an interesting observation. You write a story that expresses a feature you think is relevant to the product. You try to estimate it. You prioritize it against other stories. If it does not come out on top, it may become irrelevant before the next sprint finishes. Why is that? I believe it is a somewhat necessary outcome from the fact that you learn what you want as you go. But I am still a bit worried, though. Are we coming down to details to early?

Gojko Adzic talks about deriving scope from goals in his book “Specification by Example”. Got to read more of that. Our goal is to replace a legacy system but that is a crappy goal, you can only be a bleak copy if that is your sole goal. We also have the goal of reaching a higher level of automation, a bit of a saving grace.

Note to self: find goals that are S.M.A.R.T.

I learned also that there are many stakeholders but only reached indirectly through others in the organization. If you have a customer and their system is integrating with yours, you need to have contact both with their business side and their IT-department. A few of those is cool but I believe we have 40. It is certainly a challenge to modernize the integration and have 40 different opinions on why, how and when. I mean 80, there will be two for each customer.

And modernize the integration, that’s what I want. Not only change from using text files to XML, that would be lame. What is the business value in that? Not much. No, something more that lifts this steaming business further.

The week included a meeting with the owner of the company and the CEO. That’s a dynamic duo that is very frank and visionary. Seems to me that there is room for improvement for the new PO in terms of communication, at least.

Will there be a part 3?

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