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Product Backlog Grooming: Does the Product Owner really do everything ?

When you think of the role and responsibility of the Product Owner, a number of people who I spoke to divide the roles and responsibility quite clearly between the Scrum team – the Product Owner was the one who had the prime responsibility of the Product Backlog and its prioritization, while the Scrum team was responsible for execution of the tasks in each Sprint (which included the estimation, the update to each other via the Daily Scrum meeting). However, when questioned on where there was over-lapping of these responsibilities, there was a lot of confusion especially when we got into a discussion regarding the amount of discussion that needs to happen during the process of preparation of the features and the User Stories that go into the Product Backlog. I have been writing about the Product Backlog Grooming process (read this post about the objectives of the Backlog grooming) and how this is a regular meeting where the Product Owner, the Scrum master and the Scrum team get together to discuss the features / User stories in the Backlog on a more detailed basis and in some cases, can even come up with rough estimates for the User Stories.
So, back to the topic of the post. Is it really possible for the Product Owner to do all the steps in the User Story definition, detailing, and so on, till the Sprint Planning stage ? In previous posts, it was pretty clear that there are a number of areas where the team has more details available than the Product Owner, or there could be specific cases such as the Product Owner being new to the team or to the product. The Product Owner has to depend on the team for a lot more details, especially when it comes to detailing the one-line or two-line functional requirement into more details such as workflow steps and flow of information in and out (and these are typically required before the Sprint Planning step, the Product Owner needs to have these levels of detail clear when there are queries for the same from the team).
But, if the Product Owner starts conducting detailed meetings with the team in advance of the Sprint to discuss the feature in detail, then the team does get involved in the steps of discussing the requirement, and even getting into some level of detail (where there could be complexity or where the experience of the team in highlighting conflicts can be very useful). This means that for the question above, the Product Owner does not do everything. In fact, the Product Owner continues to have the overall responsibility of the User Stories and the workflow (along with the user experience / workflow designer), but there is to some extent a shared responsibility with the team about the definition, scoping and detailing of the User stories. If the product owner is more of a person who does not like the concept of involving the team in terms of sharing responsibility and making them feel that their contributions are not valued, then it is less likely that he / she will get the required cooperation from the team for all these tasks, which will impact the productivity of the entire team. In our case, the Product Owner would start off by explaining what his idea of the feature was, and then get into a discussion. In between one of those sessions, the workflow designer would throw up some designs, and that would form the basis for the next part of the discussion (but with the requirement that the entire design and detailing does not happen during the Backlog grooming session).

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