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product proxy owner

Let a Proxy Product Owner increase project efficiency

The Product Owner (PO) has the final say. At least, that’s what his job title suggests. In practice, however, the PO can’t be everywhere at the same time. That’s when the Proxy Product Owner (PPO) comes in to make the difference.

Equalminds is specialized in agile coaching and agile consultancy. We make sure our clients’ business and IT teams work smoothly together. This efficiency is particularly important during software development. That’s why we like to play an extra card: that of the Proxy Product Owner.

Overview

At the start of a development process, a story mapping workshop takes place. This is a brainstorming session that results in a document, the backlog, in which the Product Owner lists and prioritizes all high-level requirements of the new application from a business perspective. He is the brain behind the product and, in practice, most of the time also sponsors. His input should make things clear both for business and IT.

This backlog combined with a couple of one-pager visuals allows the PO to keep the overview throughout the project. It needs tight organization though. Processes are being subdivided into blocks, components, and elements so that there’s a framework. This allows the PO to easily prioritize the crucial parts, and to locate further questions and concerns.

A wide range of tasks

In practice, however, it isn’t always easy for the Product Owner to fulfill his role. The PO has a very wide range of tasks. He follows up on the development and evolution of the product from a business perspective. But he also stays in touch with the development team, because they provide feedback on feasibility, progress, capacity planning, etc. This input is crucial to functionally elaborate the different stories. Furthermore, the PO needs to validate the stories in the test environment. He needs to understand what, how, why, and where every ticket comes from, which deliverables he can or can’t accept, and more. The PO often turns out to be overloaded.

Why’s that? Apart from managing the backlog, read a full day-time job, he’s managing business teams and their processes. And moreover, while in need of digitalization, he most likely has his hands full putting out fires across the process chain… If the PO wants to restore his focus, he can only do it by creating a relationship of trust. He needs someone who can take over part of the work. He needs a Proxy Product Owner (PPO).  

Breathing space

By relying on a Proxy Product Owner, the PO creates more breathing space. While the PO cannot always participate or be part of the project team, the PPO is in the team, at all times. This considerably reduces the distance to the actual project. As the trust between the PO and the PPO grows, the PPO will get more chances to make decisions on his own. That surely helps to avoid unnecessary delays.

After some time getting aligned, the PPO might even support in reporting on the budget, but more importantly, the PPO becomes the spokesperson for the project. He’s the glue with the holistic view. He helps ensure communication goes both ways. The PPO also returns the feedback from the developers to the business. Thanks to the short distance to the project, he understands best what the options are, and he can translate the technical story in an understandable way for the business. The PPO becomes the PO’s right hand and helps to keep the project on track.

Would you like to know what a Proxy Product Owner can do for your project? Contact us!

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