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Product Owner in Scrum – the mismatch between being the voice of the customers and working closely with the team

I work for an organization that has a mix of teams using Scrum, using Waterfall, using iterative, and other software development methodologies. Corresponding to this, we have a Product Management team that works on the different projects that are in execution; these Product Managers are responsible for the various projects that we are doing for multiple clients. They get requirements from clients, and for the couple of products that the organization handles, these Product Managers also play the role of working with potential customers, getting to know the market, doing surveys, attending industry meetings and conferences, trade shows, etc. They have a fairly hectic schedule and are responsible for ensuring that the output of all their efforts are distilled into feature requirements that are handed over to a development team (who was working on the waterfall development methodology). Typically the Product Manager would be involved again once the team has got past the Beta stage, in order to evaluate the feature set and see that everything is fine.
However, some time back, we decided that due to the changing nature of requirements for these products, it would make sense to get the Product development process onto the Scrum bandwagon, and we put the team into the Scrum training, ensuring that everybody was fully involved with how the Scrum process works. However, soon after, we started seeing that the interaction between the Scrum team and the Product Owner was getting strained, with the feedback being that they were not able to get as much time of the Product Owner (for queries, for showing the end product around the Sprint demo) as they were told during their training.
Talking to the Product Owners got us much more information about the nature of the problem. What had happened was that we had taken 2 roles and put them both together into the role of the Product Owner. We expected that the Product Owner would continue to do all the heavy client interaction, the meeting of customers and running all the interactions they had with the industry; in addition, they were also expected to be spending far more time with the Scrum team, so that the team got all the answers that they were looking for when they needed them. Combining both of these led to a shortage of time, and in many cases, the Product Owner was out in the field when the team was looking for them to be physically present with them.
What solution ? Well, we had to look for some additional responsibilities to handle the heavy team interaction area – we were lucky that we were able to get an additional person who had the primary responsibility of working with the Product Manager who was external facing, and being able to convert these to interact with the Scrum team.

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