Protecting Dev Teams as Product Owner

Protecting Dev Teams as Product Owner

There is always a term we often come across, that is "Product owner must protect development team". Well as per me protecting team means

  1. No stakeholders should directly assign task to team without consulting with product owner
  2. Product owner must not say yes to all requirement coming from stakeholders

Now let's figure out how to achieve the above.

For the first point(mentioned above), as a product owner you should know your stakeholders and for that you should first draw the stakeholder map. The stakeholder can be anybody, a business owner, customer or any other team who are directly or indirectly using your product. Couple of template of such stakeholder map could be
Example map 1:

Example map 2:

Once you know your stakeholders, then bring them closer to development team by inviting them for sprint reviews.

Note 1: Apart from deliverables, sprint reviews also provides transparency on development progress and impediments

Have regular meeting with your stakeholders to discuss about ideas, features and road map.

Note 2: Such meetings provides transparency on new ideas and future development plans that the team is going to work on.

Also you can inform your stakeholders to approach the product owner instead of approaching development team.

Note 3: This will not only help your team to be focused, but it will allow you to make your plans better.

On the second point(mentioned above) "saying no to stakeholders". Saying directly no is not a healthy way of doing business. As per me we can achieve this indirectly by understanding the reason behind the need and value to gain. Once you know the reason and the value then place them into your development plan. It can be your daily plan, weekly plan or quarterly plan. e.g., below is a template of quarterly plan

And discuss the plan with your stakeholders. By having such discussion about your plan, you can achieve the following

  • You can make your stakeholders aware about the required effort and the value gain from their requirements
  • You can make your stakeholders aware about the time line, by when they can get the features.
  • Also after knowing the details, stakeholders are in a position to re think on their priorities.

Note 4: It goes without saying that as a product owner you must be a good negotiator

I believe by doing above is the right way of protecting teams.
Please share your opinion and ideas.

Nice reading about stakeholder map Miro Blog